Friday, 30 June 2017

NZSA Manuscript assessment accepted!...

Pasifika Greens (6" x 6") Acrylics on boxed canvas 2017 collection
Having just finished painting my first series to sell (currently being sold at SAAB Sei Oriana store in Mangere) as so excited today to announce that I've just heard that my debuting novel manuscript has just been accepted to be assessed by experienced writers for reviewing towards publishing in the not too distant future.

Wow! thank you NZSA New Zealand Society of Authors of which I have been a member (on and off) since undergoing my Masters in Creative writing back in 2012 as they have recently started offering 12 of these 'scholarship' type awards annually with funding from Creative NZ to assist more NZ writers towards publishing their works and I am so privileged to have been shortlisted and now looking forward to sending it off for reviewing. Such a humbling privilege.

It's really funny because it was my eldest who brought my manuscript back to mind this year as when she asked about when I was going to have it published, having read it as a pre-teen many years ago, I realised that I had quite forgotten about it as have been so busy publishing my older written material that I had quite forgotten about some of my newer material that I would like to publish as a part of my publishing business plan.

So now I feel that it's getting closer to that time of 'birthing' i.e. in bringing my first novel to light which is a bit intimidating and daunting as in the expectancy of a new child as a lot of effort and time and love went into writing this first novel and now it's almost time for 'the big reveal' as they say but there are a few more tweeks and considerations that I need to make first before printing and that's the excitement that I'm starting to feel as we get closer to the anticipated day/year although I still have a couple of projects that I need to work on beforehand.

Suffice to say that's a YA or Young adult novel, something that I think I would have enjoyed reading when I was a lot younger in my teens as I was a prolific YA reader when I was a senior in high school and now I hope to bless some other young people with stories that will be challenging in some ways, disconcerting in others but always about giving hope that there is someone out there who cares.

More will be revealed as we get closer to the time... Chee-hoo!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Contemporary vs Traditional - cultural clashes...

'Hibiscus Blues' (6"x6") Acrylics on canvas
I've had some very interesting conversations over the past few weeks as I've ushered in a new class for this Semester in the Cert. in Indigenous Research and also in my capacity as a Pacific People panel member for the Auckland Council.

Those interesting conversations revolve around what is often seen as the clash between what is deemed as the cultural 'traditions' which some academics don't like to use the word 'traditions/al' because often it equates with old, the non negotiables, being stoic and on the other hand there are those of contemporary generations who often don't agree or know a lot about 'traditional' culture and will often call to question various ideas.

I think for me, the non-negotiables are the principles by which we abide by that have been passed on from generation to generation and as a Samoan it is about respecting our elders even if we sometimes don't agree with them, the 'va fealoa'i' or keeping the space safe within our relationships we walk alongside.

It's sad to me that people with qualifications have often usurped areas that were traditionally occupied by people who were steeped in wisdom and knowledge because we as indigenous peoples have been colonised to think that having education somehow manages a better understanding of the world around us and to some extent there may be some truth there but I've come to learn that with age and experience comes a lot of wisdom and understanding about life and life's cycles.

I must say the people that I most respect and look up as my heroes are my parents with the foresight and knowledge that they both had to where we are today. Success to me is not about making mega dollars or accumulating wealth but it's more about living life in accordance with principles that bring about other's success (i.e. being generous) and leaving a legacy of faith, hope and love to the next generation and that's what I've come to know through the example of my parents of which I have been blessed with.

So for me, it's about learning from our elders experiences in order to forge a shared renewed understandings of faith, hope and love of which we pass on to our own children and that they will pass on. The difficulty comes when we look in the mirror and realise that we have become so 'palagi' or western in our nature and have rejected the very principles that have been passed from the generations or even more difficult if we don't even recognise our prejudices.

The paintings that I paint are very much about the re-newed understandings that I have about my cultural identity in being 'SamoaNZ' rather than a NZ born Samoan because there are inherent differences of understanding and meaning which in teaching the Indigenous Research course has really helped me to reflect upon.

The cultures don't clash for me because as I reflect upon the principles that I've been brought up with, each situation calls for clarity of mind and to seek spiritual guidance upon which decisions need to be made. It's about tapping into the grand Master of design and asking for that divine intervention that will bring about a holistic understanding not about clashing but about contrasting and complementing. It's learning about how those beautiful colours/clashes complement each other...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Paintings at SAAB...

My books and paintings at SAAB Sei Oriana, Mangere, Auck.
After my recent exhibition, I've been inspired to paint and have started painting 6" x 6" acrylic canvas boxes with Pasifika themes and colours.

It's another dream come true in the sense that although I loved to write in high school and reading books through primary school, art what what I particularly liked to do from a young age was to create different things i.e. be it origami or making a craft or colouring etc. using books that I'd get out from the library.

Now I have the freedom to not only write but to also paint whereas a few years ago, I was stuck with the idea that I needed to wait until I retired or won the lotto before I could get the time or the inclination to do so.

I'd encourage anyone who has a passion for the arts or a goal that has been put off for years to let go of fear or convention and to go for it as it's been so satisfying to do what I enjoy and it also helps to inspire my children and friends to do the same.

So no more excuses for me and doing what I enjoy and hope you can too...

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Thanks SAAB for a neat book launch...

Today, was another blessing in having my latest book launch at SAAB Sei Oriana store in Mangere, Auckland.

In fact, we went 'live' on Facebook (thanks to my niece) in letting some of our friends and family also join in on the celebration for those who were overseas or wanted to join us but couldn't due to other obligations.

The launch started with a prayer by my father who will be returning back to Samoa next week for other important family occasions and then continued with my beloved, who was the MC and then I was given a chance to say a few thoughts about the book.

My friend Mele said a few words and then blessed our food and we ended with a celebratory cake and refreshments kindly supplied by SAAB. A big thanks go to Leitu (Managing Director) and Jody (Marketing Operations Manager) and neat staff who made the launch a very special one with their lovely smiles, a beautiful layout and with special finishing touches.

It was neat also to meet one family of an ex-pupil who had attended the high school when I was a teacher there many years ago and remembered me as a teacher there. It reminded me of the dream that I had had as a teacher in knowing that although I liked teaching, I knew that there was more to come and I thank the Lord for making dreams come true.

This is the 11th book to date and now my books and paintings are available to be bought from SAAB Sei Oriana, Auckland store, which is such a blessing, or you can contact me directly via email on: for further inquiries about upcoming books or questions etc.

The paintings are also available to be sold as sets or as individual 6" x 6" block i.e. acrylics on canvas with much more to come as am considering to publish a colouring book of the 'tala o le vavau' series due out in the next couple of months...

Friday, 16 June 2017

Manu Samoa vs All Blacks test...

Today watched the Manu Samoa vs All Blacks Rugby test match which was a disappointing for Manu Samoa fans, although to be fair they did put up a good fight in the first half but it was a land slide victory for the All Blacks with their 78-0 win.

Throughout the week there's been a build up with many fans buying and wearing supporters Tshirts (like the one I bought for my dad) and flags to wave around at the match or small ones for sticking on cars and although they lost by a large margin, it was funny to see so many Samoans playing for the All Blacks and also dominating in various plays.

I'm definitely not a die-hard rugby fan as I leave that to my father and beloved but it's always good to sit down for a meal with the family and to enjoy watching games between nations (and particularly rugby with both Samoa and NZ) with much anticipation hoping that by some miracle the underdog will win (like in the movies).

But when they don't, we say "oh well, at least they gave it a shot and next time, you never know". Being Samoan doesn't necessarily mean that you give up when the going get's tough but it's to figure out what to do for that next time.

Tomorrow, there may be many sad faces or disappointed fans out there but not to worry as there are still many young men fired up wanting to change that fate and willing to train hard to make that happen. There are probably lots of parents right now taking their sons and daughters to rugby training hoping that they will get into those premiere squads that will represent NZ or Samoa.

However, tomorrow I'm looking forward to the book launch but also in launching my acrylic paintings sets that I'll be trialing to sell at the store that depict my identity as a SamoaNZ or NZ Samoan. So considering to go 'live' on Facebook or will take picks and post up on the next blogpost.

Have a happy weekend...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

New book launch 'Fale Samoa'...

It's been a very busy few weeks with the exhibition planning and workshops delivery, then graduation for my first class in the Certificate in Indigenous Research and now the launch of my first book for the year and the 5th book in the 'origins' series or the 'tala o le vavau' (ancient Samoan stories) series.

This was a particularly interesting book to research because there is very little documentation or stories told about the origins of the design of the fale Samoa i.e. the traditional domed shaped roof with corresponding poles that hold it up as well as the foundation.

I came across this story many years ago and a couple of years ago on social media and thought that it was important for our next generations to know about one version of this important story.

And when it came to painting up the book, it presented some interesting challenges in understanding it's design and the environmental ideas that would have been taken into consideration when framing up the roof and the ingenuity and innovation of our forefathers who went about designing and building a house that was entirely environmentally friendly.

Sadly, in Samoa, few of the traditionally made houses are in existence as easier built, palagi styled, houses are now the norm in Samoa and hopefully the traditional art of making the frames of these houses will not be lost in time.

Looking forward to this Saturday midday book launch at SAAB Sei Oriana bookstore in Mangere, across from the town centre. It's also neat to be celebrating the housing of at least 8 of my books there that will also be sold on the day and awaiting Samoa in the near future...

Friday, 9 June 2017

Wonder Woman brief review...

On Queen's birthday weekend, I went on a girl's night out movie watch and we viewed "Wonder Woman". As a kid I enjoyed watching the TV series during the 1970s with Lynda Carter as the main character and I remember always thinking that compared to her male counterparts i.e. super heroes that she never really hurt the antagonists much and that she was very beautiful (by Western standards).

Her costume changed a little over time and she had the belt of truth and would swing around to change her clothing into her costume. She also had a crush on her partner and I remember first watching it on a black and white TV which later changed to colour so my expectations were quite high when we went to watch it.

And I wasn't disappointed. Some 30 - 40 years later, it's okay for women to kickass big time and to even beat up so many guys that it makes the bad guys look like girls (ha ha) although they did have to make her into a god to be able to explain how she was no normal woman.

There were some neat elements to the story especially the beginning explaining her Amazonian background. I didn't think her meeting with her naked co-star at the beginning being very necessary to the story and then it did seem over the top a the end of the movie but I did like the way they tried to explain the war to her and also how she couldn't understand why women dressed in such restrictive clothing.

When I reflect on how the role of women has changed drastically over a few decades of my lifetime, that now there is more freedom for women to pursue their dreams and goals, and that women are now able to take on roles that were traditionally only for men. I still think that women have been given a gift to be able to bring life into this world in our role as mothers, for those who wish to and nurturers for those who want to.

Wonder Woman, the movie, reminded me that no matter what happens or who's in charge that at the end of the day, it's the act of love and loving that conquers all that the greatest act of love is to sacrifice your life for another/others and I think that that was one of the neat themes of the movie...

Monday, 5 June 2017

Exhibition workshops with over 300 local students...

Install day of Pacific Hibiscus exhibition. Photo credits: King Kapisi 
This Queen's Birthday weekend, I've recovered and am so overwhelmed by the support of many people who helped to make last week's 'Pacific Hibiscus' exhibition with workshops for local schools a neat success in celebrating Samoan language week at Mangere Arts Centre.

I saw over 300 local students in 10 workshops with teachers and parents with some of whom it was their first time into the Mangere Arts centre facility. It was a privilege for me to share some of my stories, the 'Tanikoniko' Maori art exhibition in acknowledging the special place and relationship that we have with TangataWhenua (people of the land) and in workshops discussing dreams and Samoan ideas through creating zines or colouring the characters of the ancient Samoan stories.

I'd like to acknowledge my God for blessing me with such a wonderful experience, my parents who flew in from Samoa for birthdays and who attended this special occasion, my beloved Tofilau Fritz who helped out with the workshop especially as it was his birthday break but still took time out to support the cause; my wonderful family and friends who were at the launch or who couldn't but have supported me along the way. Faafetai tele - Many thanks.

I also want to thank Anna who is the Exhibitions manager and her team at Mangere Arts centre, Sally the Mangere Otara arts broker, Lydia and her team of board members of the local Mangere Otahuhu board and Alf, local Auckland councillor who all supported the exhibition. I even got to meet King Kapisi who took this photo and who shared some of his digital media experience knowledge with me. Faafetai tele mo le faasoa (thanks for sharing).

A big thanks goes to Laura from the Samoan business network of whom gave me a space at the mini-expo to display my books etc. at the local town centre which gave locals a chance to meet with me and I had some interesting discussions with many about publishing, writing and on a variety of subjects.

A truly humbling experience and one that I won't forget for a long time...

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Bookstall at local markets...

Bookstall at local markets with Samoan business network
Yesterday, I was very busy with an early morning wake up to set up a bookstall with my middle child at our local markets at the Samoan business networks mini-expo. There were several stalls that included: selling Manu Samoa Tshirts which sold like hotcakes; a Real Estate agent; an Early Childhood Education awareness campaign; a Youth fundraising group; 2 banks; 1 Pacific loans group; SAAB: Samoan Bookshop and a Samoan music/CD outfit.

I'd like to thank the Samoan business network for this opportunity as it gives exposure to Samoan businesses and products to the general public but it also helps to profile entrepreneur enterprise in encouraging us to consider entering the business world and not to always work 'for the man' so to speak.

The neat thing was being able to talk to many people in being approached by members of the public who were genuinely interested in talking about the subject matter of the books and my research. One of the interesting comments that I received was the pride of knowing that we can write and produce books and not only Palagi.

Now considering my time and making a more regular appearance at the local markets to give an opportunity for people to discuss books and subject matter with me rather than through email queries. It's also important for me in sharing a lot of the knowledge that I've acquired, over the years, and not only in classrooms.

Definitely food for thought as there was a lot of interest in some of the old stories, research methodology and also views on being multicultural for indigenous and non-indigenous people groups. Watch the space...

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Father's 80th birthday celebrations and many more...

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
Pic of my parents and Aunty Talosaga (right) at the exhibition launch
 This last week has been an absolutely fabulous and busy week! (hence not much activity on the blog). It started with the celebration of my father's 80th birthday breakfast in the morning and then we rushed over to the Mangere Arts centre to launch my first exhibition kindly sponsored by the local Mangere Otahuhu board and then off to the Orbit Restaurant in Skycity to celebrate his birthday.

The pic above of my parents and aunty Talosaga showcase my paintings boards in the background as my parents flew in from Samoa to not only celebrate my dad's birthday but to also attend my exhibition launch and a family wedding. I honour my parents and aunty as they have always been there for me and have supported me on my journey along the way and I thank God for them.

It was really special for me to have them attend as this was another dream come true for me. As a child I loved art at primary school and in intermediate I remember going to an exhibition of one of my screen prints that a teacher took to an exhibition and my parents took me to view it. I never took a pic but I remember being so proud that we got to view it with other student works.

And in taking Art in senior high school but not getting enough marks to enter Elam art school at University was a set back for me but it didn't stop the dream of wanting to paint and now the books have allowed me to express the artistic side of me that was suppressed for so long whilst pursuing academic credits in a teaching space.

This week I was given the privilege, through the kind funding of the local board to run workshops for local primary, intermediate schools and early childhood centres around my artworks in celebrating the Samoan language week. I was able to hold 10 workshops, give away books with 6 different schools which was such a blessing and got to be a guest speaker at my old intermediate school after some 40 years last entering a school assembly there.

Today, I'm off to continue celebrations with a stall at the Mangere markets in collaboration with the Samoa business network where we are showcasing our Samoan businesses (15 stalls) and this is such a neat opportunity to share my books and meet with our local community (although I usually shop locally to support our local businesses.

And then I'll be looking forward to winding down for a bit before the next book launch which is scheduled for this month and looking forward to launching 'Fale Samoa'...