Saturday, 30 September 2017

My story in less than 60 secs...

I've been playing around with various digital presentation platforms and thought to create a presentation that tells my story (generically) in under 60 secs. It was quite a neat way of exploring different ideas and will definitely be working on changing it up.

I've tried 'prezzie' but found it can be a lil' nauseating if the features are over done with the zooming in and out and at different angles. Although 'power point' is a neat presentation platform, I feel a lot of people have been power pointed out and are over it.

With 'powtoons', it was one of the first animated presentation platforms that I found pretty good to work with but it does take up a bit of time and energy to learn the various skills needed to coordinate it.

Which brings me to 'spark abode' a neat platform that allows a bit of creative and gives some neat options that doesn't tax your brain so much as in trying to work it all out. What's neat about it also is that a lot of thinking has been done for you and there's just your creative work to put it.

So here it is, enjoy...

Friday, 29 September 2017

How would I teach differently in high school?...

Image result for indigenous classrooms Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting my eldest's high school subject teachers at their annual teacher conference before the final external exams and it brought back memories of when I used to hold teacher/parent meetings and I was usually the last person standing as most of the parents wanted to speak with me about how their child was doing in their learning.

In talking with our eldest's teachers, it was neat to confirm the insights that they had learned over time in working with our eldest and the different ideas/ideals that we had tried to instill over time and it made me reflect about what advice or what hints I would give, firstly as a first year teacher to myself as a 24 year old back then, and to those who would be willing to listen.

I think genuinely caring about students is and was very important to me as a teacher in that it wasn't a job for me as much as it was a mission to support the students from different cultures in their learning journeys as I believed that any child could succeed as they put their mind to it, depending on the tasks etc.

I definitely believed in choosing materials that students from indigenous backgrounds could relate to whether through universal themes or stories that rang true and I believed in having fun as I definitely wasn't the strict 'sit down and shut up' kinda teacher with power issues etc.

I think from where I teach now within the Indigenous research space that I would definitely think about ways of decolonizing the classroom within the confines of what and how we teach. So that although we use English as the medium of conversation, I choose not to use the same power structures in the ways that I situate the class i.e. I often choose not to stand, students voices are affirmed in their sharing although they may not always agree with each other and another important consideration is setting up the class in being a "safe space" in which to share within.

I find my teaching style is more facilitative and that I draw conversations around background experiences and personal understandings. We also talk about indigenous principles which although are specific for all cultures share some important universal ideas i.e. looking after the environment, looking after each other, looking after other beings eg. animals etc. and not being wasteful etc.

These are just some of the reflections that I'm considering to write more seriously about at some time...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Hacksaw Ridge movie - highly recommended...

When I first heard about the movie 'Hacksaw Ridge', I assumed it was the name of the character as I heard that it was based on a true story but when I watched the movie, I realised that it was the name of an actual ridge that the American soldiers had to climb over in order to advance and take over ground during World War 2. Mel Gibson was the director and it's a faith based movie that I would highly recommend for viewers to watch.

It is based on a true story about a young man who is Seventh day adventist and doesn't believe in carrying firearms but enlists into the US army which brings about much animosity from military high ranking officers and colleagues that he is eventually court martialled and was expected to leave all because he wants to serve as a medic instead.

However, his dad intervenes and his wife supports him which brings him to where he bravely saves over 75 men on 'Hacksaw Ridge'. It's definitely a movie about faith under fire and it begs the question of ''what would Jesus do?' if he/we were in a similar situation.

It's a compelling story that makes one reflect on how seriously we take our faith especially when looking at the Ten Commandments which states that 'thou shalt not kill'. Private Dow, took this as  literal but others in the movie discussed ideas of needing to kill the enemy or be killed.

It's definitely not a movie for the faint hearted as Mel Gibson filmed war scenes that looked very realistic in the bombing, shooting and killing of both the allies and the enemy. And it told a story about how one man, despite not carrying firearms into battle, was still able to save lives. His story was told 10 years after he died in this movie... Lest we forget...

Visiting lecture from Dr Elana Curtis...

It was so refreshing to take my class to a seminar by visiting lecturer Dr Elana Curtis from the Faculty of Medicine from my first alumni uni of Auckland University. She is currently a senior lecturer and leader/director for a programme and course of study that supports Maori and Pasifika students into the school of Medicine.

I think what was so encouraging for me was that she talked about issues for indigenous peoples and especially Maori, within mainstream education, that we used to only think about and talk about in personal conversations back in the 1980s and 90s and were not able to address openly.

Now with leaders such as Dr Graham and Dr Linda Smith forging ahead with Kaupapa Maori research, they have set the tone within research that allowed Maori and other indigenous peoples in NZ (and overseas) to discuss the issues that have been so damaging and damning by Western researchers.

I became well aware of this in naively thinking that I could become a researcher after I'd return back to uni after teaching 2 years in South Auckland, it was in the "field" that I learned that a lot of indigenous communities had suffered from the affects of Western researchers and actually "hated" researchers, particularly in Otara, with a vengeance. It was there that I decided against that career path.

So listening to her was neat to know that the classes that we are running at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, in Indigenous Research is working alongside the ideas that Dr Elana Curtis discussed. It is about racism and inequities, it's also about privileging and colonisation as well as what we need to consider as indigenous researchers in our positioning.

Looking forward to more encouraging stories to share...

Monday, 25 September 2017

Starting to share weekly hints on succeeding in South Auckland schools...

It might be a lil' presumptuous of me to write that I'm going to start sharing weekly hints about succeeding in schooling in South Auckland schools because there's a need for it but that's exactly what I'm going to do because it concerns me that so many young people aren't making it in the school system, the very one that I engaged in as a student, a teacher/educator and now a parent.

Perhaps it's because when I started teaching in a South Auckland high school in the 90s that I thought that that was the worst that it was going to be and that things were going to get better. Boy, was I in for a shock when still today a lot of discussion mentions the "brown tail" in that many Maori and Pasifika students are not succeeding in our education system although pockets of schools tell another story.

I think it will take a conscientious effort from teachers, students and parents/caregivers to turn this around. There are systemic problems that are also in the mix but by in large a parent / caregiver and a student only have one shot at this during the teenage years and unfortunately for many, if they miss that opportunity then it limits opportunities for students to the future.

That's where I've met adult students who want to make changes in their lives in realising, as adults, that they are should have taken more responsibility as students and then begin to look at an alternative path to their current life's path with the door to success being in wanting better educational qualifications.

This is not the only route to go to gaining successful employment or in a business but it was one that my parents saw earlier on in my educational journey in realising that education opened up opportunities for better employment and life style as well as managing life's financial capabilities.

On the flip side, I've worked with many students who, having gone through the difficulties of living on a 'benefit' see the constraints put on their families and now want to seek better opportunities through gaining degrees to support the employment areas that they already have life skills in. It's so encouraging to see how you can still remain true to your culture and gain tertiary qualifications.

So transforming for families that I would like to now also share understandings from my experiences to how to 'make it' in mainstream education system...

Sunday, 24 September 2017

All the best to Joseph Parker in Manchester...

Image result for joseph parker vs hughie fury After watching last night's election results with the current government possibly still to negotiate it's future with a minor party it will be interesting to see the result of NZ's Joseph Parker current WBO champion (NZ Samoan) fight against Hughie Fury, an English contender for the belt in the Manchester Arena in England.

It's sad to reflect that only a few months ago at an Ariana Grunde concert that a bomb took the lives of many innocent people as well as injuries and particularly the sadness for many families who's young ones had gone to the concert at the Manchester Arena to listen to the US singing Diva. This is the first big event at the arena since that sad occasion.

I wish Parker the best as we did for David Tua and others who have given the sporting arena their best as a career goal. My dad is a big boxing fan (as with Rugby) and it's the only time that he doesn't attend church on time in supporting a fellow Samoan in their efforts.

We wish him the best as Samoans wanting to encourage other Samoans with Samoa being a tiny dot on the world map but in making our mark in many different ways and breaking glass ceilings within mainstream opportunities globally.

I know many other Samoans and within the boxing community will be watching this bout with a lot of interest and hoping for the best. He is definitely cool and collected and a very good role model for many young Pacific men out there showing that with talent and dedication as well as a supportive team, the world is your oyster...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Voting in NZ 2017...

Image result for vote nz 2017It's the only place where it doesn't matter what your nationality is, the amount of $ in the bank, educational qual's or the lack of, where you live, what you drive (or don't drive), where you holiday or don't... everyone is supposed to be equal when it comes to voting on the day. It's the voting outcome that doesn't always equal who you voted for.

Tomorrow is the last day of voting and I've saved my vote to the last day of polling as I have traditionally done since I first started voting. The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that everyone has their own idea of who they are voting for and why.

Traditionally, I used to vote for the larger parties when it was first past the post i.e. only one vote but now with MMP where you get 2 votes i.e. one for the political party and the other for the local M.P. I now exercise my vote by seeing which party and persona matches my values and beliefs and neither of the two major parties fits the bill.

Suffice to say that I vote with my conscience and not for personalities and try to be aware of the issues at stake and what is in the forefront of what party political spinners say. I've also found the resource by Family First to be very informative about what each of the major and minor parties stand for in terms of values related to the family and society as a whole.

Tomorrow, it will be interesting to note if we are waking up to a new government (much as USA did last year) or will it be more of the same if the current government continues to remain. I think every 3 terms people get sick and tired of the same rhetoric and want to change government only to find that the next new party can come in with it's own agendas.

So when I vote tomorrow it will be through being well informed, equal to everyone elses and as a NZ citizen by birth...

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Visiting the Stardome Observatory...

Image result for stardomeA couple of days ago, I visited the Auckland Stardome observatory with my daughter's class. It was another interesting day as we viewed the various exhibits and paraphernalia associated with space travel and some of the space journeys that have happened in history.

One of the interesting exhibits for the children were the lego sets that had been built up around the various space travels and I noted how this was far more attention grabbing for them than the actual factual scenes around.

We had a tour guide and he took our group into a room to discuss how earth gets night and day and it was an interesting lesson in listening to the various answers that children would give to him. He also discussed the various orbits of planets and their moons around the sun and our solar system.

Our young tour guide then went about discussing how earth was made through a nebular explosion in which the earth was formed and that we were made from the same thing that stars are made of. What he didn't mention was that it was only a theory, one of many, and it was interesting for when some children called out that God or Jesus made the earth.

We then went into the observatory (round room) lay back on our comfortable seats and looked at some of the 88 constellations that had been "discovered" long ago with the Southern Cross being the smallest.

The most interesting constellation for me was the 13 or so stars that make up "Maui's fish hook" which has been popularized by the "Moana" movie and is said to have been used by the early Polynesian navigators to reach NZ

We then watched a movie of which I must have fallen asleep to because I remember watching the beginning and then waking up to the end. That's what I get for waking up at 5.30am in the mornings. And then off we went back to school on the school bus. All in all a very interesting day and each child got a free ticket to come back with a paying adult. I think I'll come back to learn more about "Maui's fish hook"...

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Visiting the Auckland Maritime Museum...

 It has been so busy that I haven't had time to blog in a while but this weekend I got to take my class to the Auckland Maritime Museum which is located in Downtown Auckland and a lot more to see than when I first went there with my family a few years ago.

The Museum itself is free entry to Aucklanders with a handy carpark nearby and it has themed buildings to walk through and view the various artefacts that are on show for the public. I had some fave places that I enjoyed viewing and it was the initial Pasifika arena with a historical look at some of the Pasifika water vessels being that our (Pacific) ancestors were skilled navigators was neat to view.

My second fave area was to look for the boat replica that both my parents are used to migrate to NZ back in the 1950s-60s called the Tofua and to even find out that one of my groups inlaws had been named after the boat. There was also a neat holiday bach that showed some of the household products that were prominently used in the 1960 and 70s.

It was interesting to also be reminded about there being a Tahitian high priest named Tupaia from Ra'iatea who had accompanied Capt Cook on his 1768 travels to "discover" NZ. Tupaia was noted as being an expert geographer, astronomer and in navigation by Cook's scientific expert Banks. Tupaia could already map 130 islands that he assisted Capt Cook in mapping and learning about and the NZ Maori held Tupaia in high esteem.

This then acts as confirmation that Pacifics ancestral peoples had long been sailing throughout the Pacific and already "discovered" all of the large island groups, many of which were already inhabited and it was only in the 1700s that the Europeans were able to find them.

There was so much to see and be reminded of and a neat day out with the class...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Reprints now available for the "tala o le vavau" series...

The Reprints have arrived and SAAB Sei Oriana Samoan bookstore has been re-stocked with more copies our "Tala o le vavau" series or Ancient Samoan stories of:

  1. Sina and the Tuna (eel)
  2. Mount Vaea and the tears of Apa'ula
  3. Tagaloalagi and Fue
  4. The footprint of Moso
  5. Fale Samoa
These stories are so special to me in that apart from the story of Sina and the Tuna, the other stories were unknown to me until I went back to Samoa for my first Masters degree research in Falealupo, the land of my forefathers/mothers and it was there that I re-learnt the stories initially from the late A'eau Taulupo'o Lafaiali'i from Falealupo to whom I will be eternally grateful to, with more stories to come.

It's sad in that many of our younger Samoans know about the stories of the Disney Princesses and other English fairy tales but it is my mission as well as others to retell these important ancient stories to revitalise the environmental ideas and cultural/moral ideas that were passed down from generation to generation.

I'm looking forward to researching upcoming books but also being mindful of family commitments and making sure that my children are looked after well before taking off on business ventures, even if it's in the mind. That's because two of my children are getting ready for Samoan white Sunday or "Lotu Tamaiti" for another year.

So now, so glad to have been able to complete that mini project. The next project is working on a colouring book featuring the "tala o le vavau" paintings that I presented at the 'Pacific Hibiscus' exhibition earlier in the year that proved popular with primary schooled children. Life is never dull nor boring for an author...

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Te wiki o Te reo Maori...

Image result for maori language week Tena koutou katoa.
This week we are celebrating Maori language week as a Nation and it is so neat to be able to understand more of Maori language that I had very little knowledge of when I growing up. I think it was also exacerbated by the fact that many of my early educators were European and could not teach me much about my own culture or that of the tangata whenua (indigenous peoples of the land) who are Maori.

In fact, sadly enough a lot of racist ideology was taught in those early days in that the European culture was the only way to learn things and my own culture and especially that of Maori were marginalized especially in not knowing much about either cultural world views.

That somewhat changed with Maori and Pasifika teachers coming into the fore but often, as I experienced, they (we) were often marginalized into silos of looking after pastoral care and not always towards academic classes or being encouraged to grow into senior management levels.

Today, things are so very different in that there are now students of Maori descent who are being taught from early childhood centre in Te Reo Maori all the way up to Wananga (tertiary education) and this is so encouraging having met many young people who are fluent in two languages and often tell me that they think in Maori and then have to translate it over to Pakeha/European language.

This is so neat in also now hearing mothers talking to their children in Te Reo at the parks in the playgrounds, something that was unheard of some 20 years or so prior. It also makes me reflect about how backward NZ has been in relation to languages in that English is only one of three official languages being Te Reo and sign language but they aren't taught well in schools.

In European schools, I hear about how many children are encouraged to learn and are fluent in at least 3 languages and it is such a shame that many NZ children only learn one language yet there are so many benefits in learning more than two languages that I have come to understand.

So this week, I am proud to celebrated our first official language of NZ of "Te wiki o Te Reo Maori". No reira tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.,.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Po Fiefia in Mangere...

Last night, I had the privilege to be able to attend a Po Fiefia (Tonga celebration night) with my beloved husband for Pasifika recipients of the Queen's Honours awards over the last 2 years. It was a night that was put on by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples in Mangere which was a real bonus in being out in South Auckland at the largest Tongan church complex in the nation.

It was a neat night that recognised efforts of individuals such as: Sir Michael Jones who is the first Pasifika person to be knighted as well as Dame Valerie Adams who is the first Pasifika woman and youngest Dame to have the honour, however, she wasn't able to be there as we were told that she was heavily pregnant and expecting her first child soon.

It was a neat night M.C.d by the humourist Tofiga who had us laughing from the get go and it included speeches from various dignitaries in having Pasifika candidates from the major political parties, ministers, other recipients and it was neat to see Cook Islands, Niuean, Samoans, Tongans etc. coming together to celebrate the success of their Pasifika brothers and sisters.

It made me reflect that in Western society, often if individuals are honoured that it belongs to that individual but for Pasifika peoples often success is shared with the community in the recognition that many would have been there to support that individual towards their success and last night was a part of acknowledging the support of the 'village'.

I was invited by the Samoan Business Association, as was another 15 other businesses, to display and promote our services, products etc. without selling on the night and I was able to gift 7 books free as spot prizes and give away prizes.

The entertainment was neat with Cook Islands drum dances, Tongan Taualuga and Samoan Mauluulu and even a creative dance whilst the dinner was on for around 350+ invitees. A who's who in Auckland Pasifika's scene and saw many Pasifika leaders who were being honoured whom I'd come in contact with along my life's journey.

I think it was neat to take some time to reflect also upon the journeys that many of Pasifika people took in the risk of leaving Island homes, much like my parents, to live in a society so different and so promising and now to see some of the fruits of that success has been good...

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Work Training - Tetrahedrons...

Today I'm on a 2 day work based training regarding Assessment which is one of the basic outcomes of teaching and that is to assess that your students have learnt what you have taught through assessments.

The neat thing (and also the thing that always surprises me) about Te Wananga o Aotearoa training is that it is so different from mainstream (Western) in thinking and delivery of concepts, we always have a laugh even through some very difficult situations and conversations and it can be very difficult for those who have always been within Western thinking spheres.

For example today we looked at Assessment and how we assess through our Tetrahedronic spheres i.e. as Fire, Air, Water and Earth. I'm definitely Earth with my get things done attitude but Air is also up there with my processes driven logical factors.

The funny thing is that on the flip side I'm also very Fire with the creative side of my writing and painting and the neat thing about this training is the fact that we are all one of the four but also more prone to moving between 2 spheres depending on our personalities etc.

So tomorrow there is more training and then I think it's time to implement it from a different perspective. Another neat thing is that students get the benefit of this through us being able to make genuine connections through the assessment with the students and the work that they are to finish in order to pass the assessment.

Signing off to get some R & R and then to do more of what I need to do for assessment i.e. marking...

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Careers day speakers...

Last week, I had the privilege of being asked to attend a Careers (half) day with some Year 8, Middle school students at a school that I was a Board member of and that my daughter had attended back in 2014.

It was an interesting day because a past colleague I knew organised the day and got us into groups of careers to showcase to the students with 15 minute talks about our fields.

I was written down as an Author/Illustrator which I found very interesting as I have been first and foremost a teacher for most of my working life (post graduation) and self publishing has only been in my life since 2015 although I had dreamed about it long ago.

I found myself in a group of three people which included a local politician who is currently running for election at the local area for the upcoming elections; a Samoan architect who had formerly been a Manu Samoan Rugby player who'd travelled around the world as a part of his rugby exploits and then there was me.

Each speaker shared about some of things that I needed to do in their 'jobs' and I shared about how I had enjoyed art since primary school and writing stories in high school but didn't get high enough marks to get into Elam art school at Auckland Uni so turned my attention to teaching for only 2 years, I said at the time, which has since become a lifetime career.

But in the back of my mind I still wanted to publish writings and continued writing plays for local high schools which were quite popular with the local communities in the 1990s and there was a teacher whom was listening to my talk and spoke up that she had watched some of the plays that had been performed and attested to the interest of local communities at the time.

I also shared about starting a second Masters degree in Creative writing as an almost last ditch effort to reignite my writing interest but acknowledged that when it came to self-publishing that there was little information available for me to access and so I went onto the internet and started piecing it all together and finally after a life changing conversation with a special lady called Maria Fastnedge, the rest they say, is history.

Afterwards, a few youth came over and asked for my autograph (although I didn't feel that I was famous at all) but hope that I inspired some of them to reach for their goals and to have learnt that sometimes things don't make sense at the time, but later they do.

As I shared about teaching in high school as an English teacher: short stories, plays, novels, poetry, Shakespeare's writings and not thinking that it had anything to do with my own goals and now realising that it was a neat platform for me to learn from and now I write short stories, plays, novels, poetry and a remake of one of Shakespeare's writings from a Pasifika perspective. A real neat day for sharing with youth about life stories and careers...

Monday, 4 September 2017

Happy Fathers Day yesterday...

Yesterday it was neat to celebrate Fathers Day with my dad and the Father of my children, my beloved Fritz. It all started with breakfast in bed for him and gifts then off to church for a special Fathers Day morning service at Life Church South where all the dads were gifted with a special hombre tacos chips with mince and salsa - yum. Yes, I got to have a taste too!

Then I gifted my beloved with a special 'Men's Conference' registration which they're having during the last weekend of October and he got a special ginger beer for that. Then off to my parents, who are back from Samoa and had a lovely lunch together before going to a second Samoan service at my birth church with my parents.

As an additional Fathers Day gift, our youngest took her dad to the pools,instead, where they were able to soak up some well deserved R & R. That was neat too as when we watch the Samoan ladies at church displaying specially prepared items for Fathers Day, it was so fun to watch and it reminded me of my days writing plays and performing items for church growing up.

We then came home again and took it easy, however, in my haste to bake my family's favourite self saucing chocolate pudding, I forgot to add the hot water and it was a great disappointment as they were so looking forward to it but not to worry as I will be making another later on in the week as a make up.

All in all, it was a special day for special men in our lives who make such a neat difference: my dad being the patriarch of the family who taught me a lot about organisation and discipline, to seek the heights and to succeed and then my beloved who loves doing things together with our children and having fun and laughs along the way, is very patient and has been a dad for some 15 years now. So blessed to have these men in my life...

Friday, 1 September 2017

Spring has sprung!...

Spring is my favourite season of the year and pretty much every year, I look forward to when it's officially spring and then begin to expect more sunnier days and more warmer nights. I guess I can't help it being Pasifika but for some it's all about summer - for me summer's over rated. It's all about spring.

Back in the day, when I had a lot of time on my hands, I used to love gardening both indoors and outdoors. Mainly ornamental but every now and then I'd plant something that you can eat. I find gardening both therapeutic and creative in being able to be co-creating with God and spring is the season to get it going.

Nowadays, it's about creating and crafting stories or poetry that stretch a person's thinking and understanding to new places. I'm also blessed to live near enough to water so that every now and then I get to take my children out to the park or to a beach or water nearby. At my parents place in Samoa, it's right on the water and it has such a calming affect.

So roll on spring, I can't wait to see what this season brings and also what the end of year entails. In some places you only get to experience 2 seasons but for me it's sometimes 4 seasons in a day (with the exception of snow). Wow! so much to look forward to...