Saturday, 28 October 2017

AWAKEN Exhibition at Nathan Homestead, Manurewa...

 This week, I went with my younger sister to view an art exhibition called "Awaken" held out at Manurewa's Nathan Homestead and it was neat to view the various paintings and sculptures by some local/national artists to raise awareness and funds for the Hagar organisation.

It was so sad to read some of the stories of the ordeals that women and children have had to go through i.e. forced slavery, horrific sexual abuse, human trafficking and this is in our so called post modern society which is a shame and a force to be reckoned with.

As a Christian women Pasifika artist it's about seeing how I am able to support other women who are in difficult situations with the gifts that I've been given be it supporting through signing petitions or demonstrations (a lot more when I was younger) and now considering how best to support given other responsibilities now.

So if you have the time and inclination, I would thoroughly recommend a day out especially for women to see if there is something that you can to do support such a cause. It's like a reminder that NZ seems so far away from these types of situations but with consolidated support from caring people, it becomes a message that such types of abuse are not acceptable in this day and age.

Definitely go see this exhibition (which is free!) and AWAKEN!...

Friday, 27 October 2017

Pacific Panel at Auckland Council...

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and indoor
Attending Pacific Panel's open meeting Oct 26, 2017
(Photo credits: Faanana Efeso Collins)
  It's been a good learning to curve in being a part of the Pacific Advisory Panel for the Auckland Council as there are many groups involved and for me, it's about finding ways of supporting/promoting our Pasifika communities within Council and informing of views that would be beneficial for our communities.

In that although "we" as Pasifika are diverse communities and there is no one Pasifika voice, there are many shared values and in some case, shared histories that allow our voices to be united in similar causes and with the close proximity of Island nations to each other, there are sometimes language similarities of numbers, staple foods and other nouns etc. that sound very similar.

However, it is still important to also allow for the differences to be known and in many of our meetings these different experiences and cultural practices are apparent in rituals or special events/occasions like traditional tattoo, dance, rituals, rites of passage etc.

It was also interesting to learn that perhaps Port Moresby can boast having the most Pacific people in a city but Auckland is still able to boast that it has the most diverse Pacific populations in the world something that I still believe, as do many panel members, of the potential that hasn't been fully realised.

I still like the idea of having a PCC Pacific Cultural Centre near the airport, similar to the Oahu, near Brigham Young University partnership, in Hawaii that allows for students to work as tour guides, dancers, in hospitality etc. whilst still being able to study in a supportive environment. This was definitely a highlight for me and my two eldest when we visited Hawaii in 2015 as we spent a whole day at the PCC viewing with our Samoan tour guide, visiting the various villages, sampling the food and having an overall neat time.

With much more to share over the next year, watch this space...

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Mom/Mum types...

Image result for mothers Last night a radio programme about 4 generally speaking types of mums peaked my interest and thought I'd listen to it on the way home from picking up my beloved from work. The list goes as following:

  1. Pine tree mum - she keeps the peace in the family and tries to ensure that everyone is feeling good but the problem for her might be that child who is strong willed and doesn't want to feel the peace
  2. Palm tree mum - she's the one who likes to do lots of fun things, she's often fun to be with and never quite got over her childhood. She likes to enjoy herself and doesn't always have routines but likes her children to just enjoy life.
  3. Rose bush mum - she's the mum that has high expectations for her children and she's not afraid of letting them know it. She will make things happy so that her children will do well in life. The problem is that often she is far too overbearing at times.
  4. Box-tree mum - she is flexible and will try to fit things into schedules etc. for her children. She is often well organised and has little charts, star charts, behaviour charts, schedules etc. to run her household.
As for me? I'm more of a rose bush mum with the end in mind but have had to reign in the pressure as I would like my children to run the race and win on their own merits I would help only if they needed that help. But also I think, as the commentator spoke about also, that mum's have a little of each but that it is good to have a balance of those things in our life with our children...

Monday, 23 October 2017

'Hagar' helping fight modern day human trafficking and slavery...

Image may contain: one or more people and text Yesterday, at church, I went to write down my name to volunteer in the 'Creative' team as I've been so busy doing other things that I knew that it was time to support my local church with the giftings that I'd been given i.e. "don't put your light under a bowl" so to speak.

So I went along and got a cup of tea, muffin and a neat welcome from the team at Life church and waited for the talk to happen. Anyway, so as I was waiting, a lady started up a conversation with me and I spoke about being a 'creative' and discussed my creative life story in a short 5 min intro. That's when she told me about the organisation "Hagar" that she works with.

Hagar is an organisation who are about helping give support to people (mainly women and children) who have suffered extreme human rights abuse, often through sexual abuse (putting it very mildly) and have been a part of modern day slavery which I have learnt is worse than it has ever been in history which is so shocking in our so called modern day civilisation.

I shared with her that I had heard about her organisation over the weekend in listening to a Radio Rhema interview an artist who was having an exhibition that supported the cause of bringing awareness to these human rights issues. She promptly invited me to have a look and I hope to have coffee (although I don't drink coffee anymore) with her to discuss my support.

As a woman and a Christian, I have always had a heart for those who are the 'underdog' so to speak and to hear about the atrocities that some of the women and children have faced and lived through at the hands of other humans is heartbreaking. And as an artist, I would like to give my artistic support to a cause that gives 'life' back to others. Looking forward to what the partnership will bring about.

You can check out their website on: or Facebook page called Hagar New Zealand to lend a helping hand...

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Art Exhibition(s) for 2018...

Pacific Hibiscus Exhibition painting (Acrylics on canvas, 2017)
Starting to look at applying for a couple of community art exhibition venues for 2018 and it's exciting to be contemplating this.

If you know my back story it's about taking art through high school and passing the Bursary (senior high school marks) and then not getting enough marks to go to Elam Art school at Auckland Uni and instead taking on an academic course to a Masters level.

From there it was then about serving within my local community as a teacher and thinking that my dream had died and I'd have to wait until I retired before ever picking up a paint brush! Instead, a few years ago, I started painting small canvases just as a way of starting painting again and I haven't looked back since.

This year was the first year that I put on a small art exhibition called "Pacific Hibiscus" which showcased the paintings from my books. I hope to be able to repeat it in another community to highlight a variety of artworks and also those of my collaborating artists of whom I've worked with on my books.

I also hope to host an art exhibition with poetry that I've written over the past few years that have been published in a couple of books that have been published. With the exhibition, I hope to host some workshops for local high schools to talk about poetry, my life as a writer and to support youth at school who are contemplating a career in the arts. This is because there are so many more opportunities available than when I left school, way back in the day.

So looking forward to what the new year will hold and more...

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Enjoy the labour weekend...

Image result for labour weekend This weekend will be chilling at home and getting rested up on some well needed R & R. Will also be catching up with family and working on some assignments (4 of them) as well as getting some painting and writing in there somewhere.

With the onset of a new government, it's neat that NZ is finally getting back down to business (after this long weekend) and will look at policies that will be able to help the NZ people especially those who are the most vulnerable in our societies and communities.

I am so blessed that I have the support of a loving family and insight from parents who had foresight and now trying to pass on some of those gems to my own children and the next generations. And I love holidays and long weekends spending time with loved ones and doing the more important things in life.

Have a blessed long weekend everyone...

Friday, 20 October 2017

Gone with the wind - civilisations epic journey...

Last night I got to watch again 'Gone with the Wind' (1939) which was based on a book by Margaret Mitchell published a few years earlier which I read many years ago before I watched the movie. There was never a sequel written after this one by the author as she finished the book on a 'cliff hanger' but there was an attempt by another author to write the ending many years later, however, it didn't quite live up to it's predecessor which makes this story quite unique.

What was interesting about the movie was that although it was an epic story set around the civil years in the American Southern states that it still has universal themes about love and betrayal, envy etc. particularly by the main character Scarlett O'hara. The two leading actors of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable played their parts so well that there are some lines in the film that are quite iconic.

It also depicted the Southern States in their 'glory days' of thinking that it was quite alright to have slavery as a part of their society. Things have changed so much since those times and it was interesting to watch how people saw that period of time as being so glorious when in actual fact it was at the cost of other peoples happiness and lives.

The story was set around the 1860s which would be around the time that my great, great grandparents were alive. What is also interesting about that period of time was that as well as the US going through birthing pains as a nation, there were many people travelling to different parts of the world and an explosion in the information that was available outside of the slave/master relationships in travelling to other civilisations such as the Pacific Islands, the Americas etc. that were so much a part of the 1800s.

So glad that that past has been erased to history and now we live with different values, in societies that don't believe that slavery is acceptable although we still have so much still to learn...

Friday, 13 October 2017

Watching 'Emoji' movie...

Watching the 'Emoji' movie over the holidays was a neat family trip that we went on yesterday to take our youngest to watch. Suffice to say that I saw the first part and then the last part as it has been an exhausting week with so much going on with the last couple of days of the school holidays left to enjoy.

It was also funny to reflect on how this movie wouldn't have even been made a decade ago in not having the technology nor the understanding of the metaphoric innuendos of what each of the characters stands for but sure loved the animation and colours - wow! talk about bright.

It was the usual story of a 'guy' who doesn't fit in and then goes on a quest to find the answer to his problem (self identity?) and picks up a couple of 'misfits' along the way to spice up the story. And then there are the baddies who almost always get to catch him but then are foiled in some way, shape or form.

So when I woke up in the last 15 mins of the movie, I hadn't really lost out on the plot and got to see the twist at the end and the resolution of how all ends well with the 'baddy' in prison of sorts. The usual 'feel good' ending so that children (and adults) can walk out of a movie feeling that the world is not such a bad place after all. And that's my brief discourse analysis for the day...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Watching Denzel Washington's "Fences"...

I'd heard about this movie and thought to watch and I must say that I had mixed feelings about the storyline of the movie and the theme/message that it had. I watched it as my beloved likes watching movies with Denzel Washington but this movie left me asking more questions.

I think it reminded me very much of the play that I studied back in high school called 'Death of a Salesman' written by Arthur Miller which told the story of the life of a salesman. This story similarly told the story about Troy, a garbage truck collector/driver and his values and impact that his life experiences has on his family.

Through studying indigenous research principles, one of the important principles that is asked is whether the themes etc. are positive or negative for the culture that is being studied/written about etc. I guess there's been a saturation of the negative stereotypes, characterizations and studies about minority groups that seem to perpetuate the same negative stories about minority and marginalised groups that there's been a reaction against such storying in indigenous research which is why I am so blessed to have read up about.

Therefore I won't be recommending this movie except to say that it is one of many life stories but that the stories that I am most interested in supporting and recommending are ones that offer hope and support dreams, are realistic about life circumstances but then allow those obstacles to be ways of building character and overcoming difficulties along the way. Stories of not giving up or giving in to the 'fences' that block us in society...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Annual White Sunday celebrations...

White Sunday (Lotu Tamaiti) celebrations at PIC Mangere
 Yesterday, my family celebrated the annual White Sunday or Lotu Tamaiti (Children's church) which has been an annual occurrence at my birth church since I was young. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of October and I was told it was a historical event birthed by the LMS London Missionary Society or similar churches in Samoa in the early days.

I remember, for our church in the 1970s, my father telling us to learn Psalm 1 in the Samoan language and then my elder sister, younger brother and I recited it in church as a commemoration of White Sunday that occurred in Samoa and the elders thought it was a good idea that it became an annual event at the church to what it is today.

In fact, it was something that my parents told me was bigger than Christmas growing up where each child was given a new set of white clothing, shoes and a big meal as this didn't often happen in Samoa for families with not a lot of money.

I continued well into my 30s participating in singing the songs, learning the bible verses, conducting the choir one year and another year I remembered playing Jesus when one of the ladies thought it would be a good idea if I went topless and let my long hair cover my breasts. I was thankful when that idea was thwarted and I wore a white top instead (or was that for the Easter play :).

Since my children were about able to stand at around 1 - 2 years old to the teen years, I've encouraged them to attend the practices and to learn either bible verses or play (skit) lines given to them by the teacher of their particular age group in the Samoan language.

For some, it's a mission in trying to learn the pronunciation especially if they are not well versed in the Samoan language but at the end when there is a big combined feast in the hall for both those who participated and those who attended, it's a blessing to share in festivities and an historical event that still continues to be celebrated today...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

'Ei' making at the new MIT Pasifika Education centre...

 A couple of days ago, I went with my youngest (loves going everywhere with her mum) to check out the new MIT Pasifika community centre at MIT. When I worked on a short contract for MIT many years ago, there wasn't such a Pasifika centre although it was situated in the heart of Otara, a highly Pasifika populated area. Now very neat to see this having opened last year and in being recognised within a mainstream education institution which probably has it's pros and cons.

The reason I'd gone was to attend the Cook Islands 'ei' (flowers garland headband) making session at the centre as when I go to writers festivals/conventions etc. I'm usually the only Pasifika writer and making my own makes sense to incorporate my love of colour, creativity, hibiscus and tropical flowers and in having been a wedding flowers stylist many, many years ago (sold flowers for over 200 weddings) throughout NZ but again, that's another story.

What was neat about going to the workshop was that there were many Cooks Islands women and a couple of men from Aitutaki, Manihiki, Penrith, Pukapuka, Rarotonga etc. who wanted to learn the technique and there were also others, like myself from other cultures eg. there were European, Asian etc. women who attended as well which made for a big large workshop of up to 30+ of us.

So now I've started looking at different colour arrangements, styles and flowers and am absolutely loving it and will be posting some pics online. Can't wait to see how it all turns out...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Memorable musical theatre - Lloyd Webber...

Music has always been a blessing in my life in how it's a universal language that touches the soul from learning to play piano, guitar, ukulele, to singing in church choirs and just for fun and now watching my children enjoying the gift of music is such a blessing.

One of the other genre that I enjoy very much is watching musical theatre and Andrew Lloyd Webber is an amazing songwriter and this song is one of my very favourite love songs from the musical 'Phantom of the Opera.' There are many renditions but his has got to be one of my favourite in the interpretation of both artists.

The beauty of this is when the song adds to the atmosphere of the play/theatre and summarises the feelings that the actors are feeling at the time. It's also one of the reasons that I started writing plays for high schools in that it was like art imitating life. Such beauty when both come together by singers who touch the audiences as this song does.

Enjoy... :)

Monday, 2 October 2017

8.30 am Karakia at Te Wananga o Aotearoa...

Image result for te wananga o aotearoa I've been working at Te Wananga o Aotearoa since 2010 and I must say that there are a lot of things that I have learnt that are very different mainstream universities. One of the main areas that I thought was sadly lacking in mainstream tertiary education was the integration between the spiritual/esoteric values and physical/psychological etc. worldviews.

Here at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, one of the main principles is the belief in a greater good for all people and in a higher celestial being(s)/belief and this is demonstrated in one of the key principles that unites all Te Wananga o Aotearoa campuses of having a joint/united karakia (corporate prayers) every morning between 8.30 am and 9.00 am. In fact, it is probably the only tertiary campus that I know does this in NZ.

At this early morning karakia, songs are sung, before and after, prayers are entered into in different languages, greetings are shared, stories are told, important events are spoken about and visitors are welcomed. It's a special time when everyone can come together and share and then go about their day feeling blessed.

It doesn't mean that everything goes smoothly everyday but there is a sense of unity and working for something that is bigger than ourselves or a salary. Students are also able to come to this special time and over the years I've learnt Maori himene (hymns) and waiata (songs) and have to learn more about the language through whaikorero (speech making).

Definitely, something to consider in those mainstream universities where theories are told as fact, and realities of those in power are imposed upon those who have little say. Definitely a humbling experience for many...