Monday, 27 November 2017

Holiday break at Philip Island, Australia...

Image result for phillip islandIt's been a real blessing to be able to visit Philip Island off the coast of Melbourne with my family, a two hour drive from the city, for a bit of R & R although I often have to remind my family that I'm also holiday (as being a mum you never really rest).

It's nice here as there are quite a few sights to see: like a koala park, chocolate factory, penguins march etc. and lots and lots of fishing for those who are really interested. Also a lot of rugged coastline to see with many tourists out visiting as well.

Am really grateful for this break as it allows our family to be together and make memories whilst relaxing and looking forward to what Christmas and the new year brings. So it's a celebration of our wedding anniversary, my birthday and our eldest's exam finishing national exams a day before we got on the plane.

We still can't get over the shopping cart where grocery shopping is almost double what we would buy for the same price in Auckland and petrol is even at a better price than we would be able to buy it for in NZ.

Looking forward to bringing in December in Melbourne and then flying back home in early December with lots more marking of assessments and goodbye dinners before Christmas. After this rest and relaxation... bring it on! :)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge exhibition...

On the weekend, I took my class to to view our first Master's in Applied Indigenous knowledge degree exhibition called "He Waka Hiringa - transforming communities". It's an exhibition that celebrates creative indigenous knowledge as well as academic paradigms and is currently open at the Mangere Arts centre until 20th of January 2018.
It was neat to see the culmination of 2 years work of indigenous knowledge shared with our communities through paintings, weaving, visual and audio media etc. and it was particularly interesting to see a wealth of knowledge shared from different cultures i.e. Maori, Tonga, Samoan etc. 
I'm also very interested in the next cohort of Masters students starting their studies next year as some of them were graduates from the two classes that I taught in the Cert. in Indigenous Research and they are more than capable of contributing new knowledge to the academic community which often upholds Western theories above indigenous knowledge.
And I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to teach and learn from this indigenous research course as it helped me to value the knowledge that was passed to me by my parents, relatives, Samoan church community etc. growing up in South Auckland. 
It also allowed me to draw from my own early experiences as an indigenous researcher reclaiming Samoan indigenous stories in Samoa in my 20s although initially in the field of Geography and later as an educator teaching youth mainly from indigenous Pasifika and Maori cultures. 
It also helped me in being able to contribute to my Granma's final faaSamoan rituals before her burial last week in honouring her memory of being able to walk in tri-une worlds and then passing that understanding onto me of her embracing the faaSamoa, Christianity and Western perspectives. 
It has been my journey of the past few years and now I'm privileged in seeing so many students understanding and redefining their cultural identities more positively. Definitely an exhibition to consider viewing with much more to come... 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

So thankful to my Granma...

My late Granma: Maria Mareta Asia Su'a in her 40s
 Today, as I reflect upon the week that has passed, I am so thankful to be a part of a family (my father's mother) who worked together to commemorate a very special mother, grandmother, great x 5 grandmother, auntie, friend who taught us so much during her lifetime and ours and I am so grateful for the privilege of being a part of her legacy. Thank you God!

In her 98 years of life, she taught us all to be loving (fealofani) to each other, she had a neat sense of humour and laughed, danced and enjoyed life. She was so confident in her faith that she wanted no one to mourn or wear black during the funeral/family service (although I wore black intermittently as part of my own mourning) but it was a testament to how she lived and what she believed in.

She loved her family and prayer for us continuously and her extended family, even those in the villages and that was demonstrated in the many people who gave testimony at her family service and funeral service of the ways that she had brought so many people from Samoa in the 1950s to the 1980s and gave them an opportunity to live in NZ. She looked after children, as her own as a widow, in her mature years and many mourned her passing.

She embraced both the faaSamoa and the Western way of doing things and that was evident in the dual cultures that she had walked in. I am so grateful that her funeral reflected her cultures in using both languages throughout the time and in the church service, the hymns in church, during the various rituals and finally her coffin was swathed with tapa before the burial.

Her faith was the strongest pillar in her life of regular fasting, praying and naming each family member and children/great/grandchildren. She was encouraging and demonstrated to us that although she was blind in her latter years that she wanted to live independently. It was a 'never give up' kind of spirit with so much tenacity and generousity in giving things away and not storing her treasures on earth but in heaven.

As a family/aiga we met upon the final night, after the funeral and decided to have a family reunion around the same time next year to commemorate her legacy as well as an unveiling of words on her tombstone with Grandfather. I hopefully will be able to collate a book with the help of family members around her life and times as a pioneering woman and the legacy she left behind to bless at that time.

She has passed but her memories will remain forever in our hearts. I do not say 'ia manuia lou malaga' (may your journey be blessed) Granma but say 'ua manuia lou malaga' (your journey has been blessed). Thank you for the legacy that you gave to us Granma as my final post to lay her to rest...

Monday, 13 November 2017

My late granma's legacy in my writing journey...

This weekend, despite the passing of my special granma, I attended the Auckland Book Festival with fellow writers and it helped to ease the pain and loss and I know that my granma would have wanted me to continue with such an important part of my life now which is about connecting these stories with their readers.

The neat thing was that I got to meet librarians, teachers, other writers, people from the general public who were attracted by the bright as paintings but also some who wanted to talk about writing or sharing hints about how to get started in writing and where to go, some were also genuinely interested in connecting Pasifika students with stories that reflected their Pacific backgrounds and that was neat to know too as an ex-teacher librarian back in the day.

It was a gentle reminder also that through my granma's legacy, I'm able to do what I was called to do so long ago and it's about using the God-given talent for that special purpose for me about my writing somehow reaching into the past and then picking up those special stories and re-writing them into the present to cast into the future (hope that makes sense).

I'll always be so grateful to my granma for taking that time to be with me in her support so many years ago, that started me into this writing journey from the old stories in Samoa as I mentioned her in my first Masters Geography thesis.

So as I continue on this new life's journey a thought struck me (gently) on Saturday to help write my granma's life story with permission from my family so that the memories and the neat legacy that started with us continues...

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Maria Mareta Asia Su'a: sunrise 1919 - sunset 2017...

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup
My late Granma with my dad in the background
 Yesterday my paternal Granma, one of the few great influences in my life, passed on to the next realm to be with our Lord. She died peacefully at the ripe age of 98 leaving a legacy of faith, hope and love for her family and those her life touched.

She was the very last of her generation, born in 1919 in Samoa and then emigrated to NZ with my late grandfather, father and aunties in the 1950s. She was fluent in both Samoan and English and she lived a very full and meaningful life. Her life a celebration of someone who lived life to the fullest, in every sense (without the need for narcotics, tobacco, gambling and alcohol) ha ha ha.

She was a trailblazer, a true pioneer, not afraid of anyone or anything and although she became clinically blind in her 60s, that didn't stop her from travelling or living independently for she had a deeper faith in God which I think will be my constant reminder of her.

I'll always remember her for being fearless in being a widow in her late 50s, with her early morning prayers and evening devotions where she would prayer for all of her children and their children and name her grandchildren and great children for she lived her life in prayer and regular fasting on Fridays.

I'll also remember her spirit of generousity, her tithing and giving to the church, to family faalavelave, to the needy, sharing her food and things that she was given with those around her for her treasures were not stored on earth but were being stored up in heaven.

There are milestones in my life that I will always be grateful in sharing with her and many neat memories that I will always hold dear. She travelled with me to Samoa to support me in my Masters fieldwork (when I was a poor Uni student) in my twenties which later kickstarted my current writing journey and she came with my beautiful aunties to my wedding in my thirties in Fiji where we all had a ball.

She also blessed my children in my forties and I'll be forever grateful to God that my children had the privilege and opportunity to know their great grandmother which very few experience nowadays. And although she has gone, I only have to look into the mirror and see a reflection of her in my nose, my mouth structure and now in the colour of my hair as it turns silver (without the dye :)

And although a feel a deep aching and miss one of the great pillars in my life and know that she is now in a better place and is now rewarded in heaven for being a good and faithful servant. I thank God for such a blessing as my Granma, she will always remain forever in my heart...

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Well done APPA Choir concert at Auckland Town Hall...

It was great to attend the APPA Auckland Primary Principals Association Choir Concert tonight at the Auckland Town Hall with around 13 schools participating as well as staff and even some principals adding to the variety in the concert show.

It started around 7.30 pm which gave me enough time to pick up my family's tickets at the booth and then we watched with many other families to an almost sold out show that highlighted a lot of singing talent out in the communities.

I must say I particularly loved the songs and items with a Pasifika flavour like the songs from the Moana movie's soundtrack and some Samoan items that were pretty neat and I also enjoyed listening to the student orchestra, the many solos that showed that there was no shortage of talent.

It was even neat to see one of the principals conducting the choir, with 3 costume changes (ha ha ha) and then there was the new principal from Royal Oak Intermediate who played the saxophone and some of the other teachers and principals either participating in an item, conducting the choir or playing a musical instrumental.

One of the highlights was with one of the principals playing the huge pipe organ in the background for the final finale number which ended with a resounding AMEN!!! Wow, it was a neat way to end an otherwise busy day.

Afterwards, we were able to pick up our tired children to take photos as well as to buy a huge one of the whole group from a professional photographer for $20. We then went to a family restaurant and laughed our way home in recalling some of the songs and acts.

All in all, a very neat way to spend the evening in town with family. Well done Auckland Primary Principals Association... way to go...

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Thor Ragnarok - movie review...

A couple of days ago, I went to watch 'Thor Ragnarok' directed by Taika Waititi with my younger sister and we enjoyed watching this film with some funnier moments as directed by a New Zealander especially with Taika and his brand of humour (Maori male?) and much better than I'd expected.

It was funnier because some of the scenes/script seemed to be some off the cuff or rather ad libs that were cut into the scenes and made for a less than serious movie that allowed for a few laughs and innuendoes that I wasn't sure that die hard fans would fully understand or appreciate but I sure did.

I think the funnier side started with Taiki and some of the main actors saying 'thank you' to the viewers for watching the movie even before the movie had started and at the end of the movie after the credits had rolled, a short movie addition continued so that those who left after the close of the movie missed it as it suggests a further movie continuing from this one.

Of the actual story line itself, I found it interesting in that they introduced an older sister to the two rivalling siblings and a father who wasn't as forthcoming as he had been historically so there were a few dimensions that were different including having the Hulk play an important role in the story and a Valkyrie warrior as well.

All in all, if you are an adult looking for an action movie where you can suspend your realism for a time then this will be the action movie for you or even the 'Justice League' which will be released next week in the lead up to Christmas...

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Samoa vs Tonga rivalry...

Image result for samoa vs tonga rugby league 2017The lead up to the Samoa vs Tonga rugby league game in the Rugby League world cup has been an interesting battle with flags from both nations being flown all around South Auckland i.e. driven around on cars, flying on home fences and held by people on roads etc.leading up to this game.

Despite some arrests, flag burning and some hoons behaving badly (on both sides) it's been a friendly rivalry which is not only historical in that Tonga occupied Samoa for a time but then were fought off but it's also about cultural pride. Funnily enough, the Asian shops are probably enjoying their sales of both flags soaring with some shops selling out.

Samoa and Tonga are both proud nations and although Europeans might be shaking their heads with very little understanding of why there has been so much energy and interest in the game it's about two nations who have fiercely self-governed their own nations with Samoa being the first Pacific nation to become independent and Tonga is still self governing in being one of the only Pacific nations with a monarchy which is recognised worldwide.

Which leads me to my connections with Tonga. My maternal grandfather often visited Tonga with my namesake Great grandmother and I may have relayed this before but both were able to speak Tonga fluently. In fact, my mum told me that when my grandfather and his mother would get into heated arguments, that they would argue in Tongan if they didn't want anyone else knowing what they talked about.

One of my great grandmother's sisters married into a Tonga family and some came to live in Faleula with my mum and growing up with them, I knew them to be very tall and strong - genetics which set them apart.

So whoever wins this game (although probably Tonga) may the best team win!...

Friday, 3 November 2017

Happy 98th Birthday Granma...

Image result for 98 birthday Yesterday, my lil' family and I visited our Granma on the occasion of her 98th birthday which was on the same day of Halloween. We reflected that for my family we didn't do the whole 'trick or treating' around the streets as that's a more recent development starting with the Warehouse triggering the whole industry with its promotion of it.

Our youngest instead went to a 'light party' on the Sunday before and was able to enjoy time with other children. I remember growing up and not having such holidays which weren't either celebrating a special cultural event or something of significance to our faith. Perhaps Nov 5 as in Guy Fawkes is similar.

As for my Granma, I was able to reflect upon a diary that I wrote back in 1989 in starting to re-collect information for a novel that I am researching and remembered how she had accompanied me to Samoa for my Masters fieldwork and how helpful she was. My Gran was a formidable matriarch back when I was young and seeing her at this mature age reminds me of how blessed we have been to see her through to her twilight years.

She was born back in 1919, after World war 2 and she has survived many more since then. I think of how blessed I am in the legacy that she demonstrated to all of our family in her strong faith which has been passed onto my father and now to me and my family.

We're not sure whether she will be able to reach her 100th birthday but already we have been blessed in so many ways. In recollecting many memories of some of the things she did and was helps us to consider the type of legacy that we wish to leave for our children and generations.

So blessed to have seen the blessing in my Granma...