Sunday, 31 December 2017

Saying goodbye to 2017...

Image result for 2017 In saying goodbye to 2017, it's also a good time to reflect on some of the highlights and low lights of the year gone past. I must say that one of the saddest times was the lost of my granma who has been in my life for over 50 years and that loss had a positive impact in seeing how she influenced me earlier on in my studies.

On the lighter side, it was neat to see our children growing into their studies, something that my parents ingrained in me as a youngster and I continue with mine. It was neat to travel to Melbourne for a time to recoup but also to take our family away to see another country/city.

As for the books, I didn't quite make up the 5 books per year that is my goal to publish, but I was instead able to offer workshops and a small exhibition at the local arts centre to local schools and self published two books: a bilingual picture book 'Fale Samoa' and a collection of short stories and poetry which was the culmination of Mana Mangere writers' efforts.

It was a year of reflection in knowing that I didn't want to complete a Doctorate in Education and am in the throws of transferring to a creative Doctorate, something which I should have long finished. I also am changing my teaching focus from Indigenous Research to a focus on Indigenous Research through a Te Ao Maori (Maori worldview) lens which will be interesting as I take up learning the language more formally in the year ahead.

In my last blog of 2017, I thank God for the year gone by that brought about its challenges and triumphs and look forward to what 2018 will bring. To you all, I wish a very Happy New Year ahead...

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Jumanji (2) Welcome to the jungle...

Looking forward to viewing the film Jumanji 2 'Welcome to the Jungle' playing in Cinemas now. I remember watching the first 1995 film with Robin Williams and I didn't think much of it at the time but with 'The Rock' Dwayne Johnson featuring in the latest version then I know that it's gonna be action packed with lots of adventure and fun scenes within.

The trailer gives a hint of the impending action and also the main story lines with a touch of difference in each character becoming the avatar that they have chosen to play. I especially like having Jack Black's humour playing in the movie as he's quite a versatile actor with a keen sense of humour.

I also like the fact that there's a woman who is 'kick-ass' and that it's not always the 'damsel in distress' scenario that I was used to growing up. I've now also gotten used to quite a few movies reminiscing songs of the 1980s and 'Guns n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" (1987) song is an apt subtitle for the movie.

Looking forward to a family movie night out tonight...

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Holidays at the Beach!...

Rangitoto Island seen from Mission Bay on Christmas day 2017
Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing day! Yesterday, we spent Xmas day at the beach from lunch and left into the late evening. Our very first time of spending Christmas on the beach and I loved it so much that it won't be our last.

The pic on the left was the sight from our beach front site where we parked our beach canopy and makeshift HQ for the rest of the day.

The beach was at Mission bay where a missionary base was set up with a Selwyn church being established on the site since 1858 with rocks quarried from Rangitoto (volcanic) Island pictured here for the Anglican church. It now serves as a restaurant for discerning patrons for a meal and some wine.

The weather was sunny with a nice breeze and we could see that a lot of Aucklanders and tourists had the same thing in mind with car parks fill to brimming over and picnics taking place all around the beaches, under trees, in tents and anywhere that gave some shade.

This must take some getting used to for those who've travelled from the Northern hemisphere with snow and sleet and not having to wear more than a bathing suit and some sun screen. Having had this experience in spending Christmas time in Oregon, some years ago and experiencing chilly weather in late December.

Was also looking forward to spending Boxing day at the beach but unsure now with the rain pouring down outside but if not will be looking forward to spending more holiday time at the beach or in the pools and enjoying the festivities with friends and family these Christmas holidays. I hope you are too...

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Trip advisor reviews...

Image result for trip advisorOne of the neat things about travelling overseas with family into different countries is being able to share about the experience with family and friends and even on a 'trip advisor' website that values feedback on various travelling experiences.

I've been a member since November 2015 and since I love to travel, although I don't always have the time for the $, we do try as a family to visit different countries or cultures to share with our children a better understanding of the world around us and not to be stuck in the mentality of middle NZ.

Anyway, the website 'trip advisor' has allowed me the opportunity to share some of those experiences with a worldwide audience. I've so far only received 9 badges as I often forget to write about my travelling experiences but when you do you are able to climb up the ranks for various categories.

Some of those categories include reviewing: tourist attractions, accommodation, restaurants, transportation, markets etc. and to give any helpful or handy hints to any travelling in that particular place. Many have found my reviews helpful and it's similar to Facebook in giving 'likes' to the reviews found helpful.

So I would highly recommend for travellers to check out before travelling to give those handy tips that you don't often find out about unless someone tells you, or unless you find out after you've travelled to the place.

And I'll be sharing more on the website with more neat trips planned for our family in the future...

Friday, 22 December 2017

Summer library visits and book cases...

 One of the neat things that I've enjoyed over the summer break is catching up on my reading and it's been neat to have this opportunity to take my children along although there are now so many reading websites like Wattpad that teenagers prefer instead.

This last visit, I was able to view my books there in the background along with other reading options and so good to be have this opportunity to contribute in this way to the reading community as well as in the reading programme that my children have entered, one of the activities being able to tick off to read a book from another culture.

At home I also have lots of book cases around the house as over the years we've accumulated different books on so many subjects i.e. Pacific/Samoan books, recipe books, picture books for children, Christian books, craft books etc.

There's never a dull moment with books unless of course you've picked up the wrong book...

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Library reading programmes for kids...

One of the neat gifts that I've passed onto my children is the joy of reading as this was something that I really enjoyed growing up.

Granted that not everyone enjoys reading but I certainly did and now doubly as a writer and illustrator in sharing my love of books with the next generations.

However, as an educator, I also know how with video and smartphones, some children are less likely to pick up a book to read or a magazine and would rather play games or watch videos on their phones.

Another known fact is that children can actually go a step back in their reading if they don't continue reading their reading throughout the summer holidays and that's where the local libraries Summer reading programme called 'Dare to Explore' comes in.

For the past few years, I've encouraged my children to join up at the local library to read books, complete a reading log, finish tasks in their special book (as pictured above) and take to the library to be endorsed by the librarians. At the end of the holidays and after a minimum number of tasks are reached then the children are invited to a summer party and it's an enjoyable time for all.

I've been to a number of these parties with my kids some of which involved climbing up a tall rock wall, a talent quest, food shared, prizes and lots of fun. It's not for everyone, especially if you're not a reader but it does reward time spent reading and it's supposed to be a great de-stresser too for adults.

So why not give the smartphone of rest and pick up a neat book to enjoy...

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Announcing Sei Oriana's gift store's annual book fare...

Promoting Sei Oriana (SSAB Samoan Stationery and Books) Gift Shop's book fair on the 27th to the 29th of December after Christmas and Boxing day festivities.

I'll definitely be going not only because my books are sold at the store but would also like to support their cause and pick up some books of my own as they specialise in not only Samoan specific books but also on Pasifika books as well as stationery.

Growing up, I've always enjoyed reading and have passed this gift onto my children who also possess the love of reading as it magical when a written page comes to life in your head and sometimes even better than the movie version.

I'm hoping that I can pick up some of the older books that were written some 100+ years ago by writers such as the Rev. George Brown or Rev. John Williams as they were writers who documented about the old Samoa and were the anthropologists of their time who devoted much time to writing about Samoa as they saw the changes in Samoan society with the onset of Christianity and modern times in their day.

I'm also hoping to pick up some more contemporary works such as some of the more academic essay collections and recent works that of writers. I think also that my beloved will be interested in these too as he pursues his Masters degree studies next year regarding the faaSamoa and his topic.

So highly recommending to fellow readers to check out this sale at their store located on: the corner of Mascot Road and Bader Drive next to Fale Samoa or the big Samoan house as looking forward to this annual sale and hoping to pick up a few book bargains along the way...

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Donuts, doughnuts and other part time jobs...

 Went to Dunkin Donuts with my tribe as it's a treat and one of those 'occasional' treats that my family enjoys. They were also selling promotional drink bottles for $5 choosing between a Santa or a Snowman and of course our youngest chose the Snowman like Yulaf the snowman in the popular Disney movie 'Frozen'.

I reflected back upon when I was in USA in the 80s and Dunkin Donuts was in almost every state or main township but not yet in NZ. Now it's everywhere and in Australia when we visited there, they were quite popular with a variety of different doughnuts in different stores.

My favourite are the ones with custard or jam in the inside filling or chocolate coating (my sweet tooth) and I noticed that they have seasonal doughnuts like: Christmas trees and snowman donuts that were nicely decorated in Christmas colours of green, red and white.

Another neat opportunity with these shops (although they aren't a healthy food) is that they provide employment opportunities for students looking for part time work or full time workers. It's one of those comfort foods that people usually go to for those feel good moments and with mine, I usually pick up the dozen donuts and leave with a big smile.

Hopefully, one a part time vacancy for one of my lot? (big smile)...

Monday, 18 December 2017

Strawberry farm in Mangere with ice cream...

Popular local Strawberry farm with strawberry ice cream
 A local Strawberry farm offering strawberry ice cream is very popular in summer for it's mouth watering desserts that people from all over Auckland and beyond come to Mangere for. Not only because of it's handy location just minutes from the International airport but also because the ice cream contains frozen strawberries and fresh vegetables and strawberries.

Today, I took my young ones for a short road trip and ended up going to visit the Strawberry farm for some ice cream which is great for a $4 strawberry ice cream which is frozen vanilla ice cream crushed together with frozen strawberries on a waffle cone.

There are also other desserts that are offered such as their pancakes with strawberries, frozen drinks and dipping chocolate is also sold with fresh strawberries. No wonder there is always long lines during lunch times.

Good times, great taste :)...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

End of year celebrations and new directions for 2018...

 There were so many end of year celebrations that I wasn't able to attend due to commitments that I had but it was so neat to be able to celebrate with some members of my class at a popular buffet restaurant 'Happy Days' in South Auckland this last week.

They also gifted me this opportunity so I was able to bring my children along to enjoy their company plus the fact that every so often, I bring them along so that they (on both sides) can see me in action working with students or family.

A little sad that I won't be teaching the same course as it's being revamped with a more Maori focus and I accepted the challenge to teach it in its new state known as 'Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga' which loosely translated is: the gathering of world protocols (Indigenous research).

There are 4 components that there will be a focus on i.e. Mana Tagata, (supernatural power of people), Mana reo (supernatural power of language), Mana whenua (supernatural power of land), Mana Ao (supernatural power of world of strengthening abilities in research).

These are the basic components of any indigenous studies although Mana Wairua (supernatural power of spirituality) is missing but will still be drawn into studies through the other components. So now looking forward to starting my journey in learning te reo Maori language course next year and broadening and sharing my knowledge of indigenous practices etc...

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Daddy's Home 2 movie on fathering in the 21st century...

Almost forgot to write about another movie that we had viewed in Melbourne at the Crown Entertainment centre in Melbourne city on the last day we were there. Not my usual movie to watch but as we were killing time before our late evening flight, this was the only movie that was on at the time.

So if you're like a bit of comedy and don't mind watching 4 men talk about fathering, then this is the movie for you. We had watched Daddy's home 1 as a TV movie that week, so it was interesting to see how they extended the plot by adding the grandfather dimension into an already awkward situation.

I think it was better than I had expected although it had the usual sexual references that a lot of movies seem to think that they need to have to keep the adult audience interested (really?) but the storyline was plausible with a lot of blended families and especially the role of the father diminishing over time but also realising that it is a holds a very significant place in families and indeed in society.

I think what I learnt from the movie is that it's really important for a father to take their fathering role seriously and as I reflect upon my own father, I am thankful that he did take his role seriously and provided me with a firm foundation upon which to build my own family's understanding around. 

Because as we see in society today, if a father doesn't commit to his role as a positive role model within a family, then often the children will pay dearly but when a father does commit to being responsive and loving to his children, they will reward him with pride and joy. Like the biblical saying in Proverbs that says: A wise child brings joy to a father but a foolish child brings sadness to the mother...

Thursday, 14 December 2017

He Waka Hiringa - Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge...

My beloved next to Yarra River in the Central city, Melbourne
 A big congratulations to my beloved for being accepted into next year's cohort for an intensive 2 year study plan in the class of 2018 Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge aka He waka Hiringa at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Mangere campus.

This will be a culmination of many years of indigenous practice that my beloved has been involved in within our families and church settings, in our book launches and cultural gatherings, he has been at the forefront of representing our families at any given event and always is prepared to take on the leadership role and responsibility and now has the opportunity to not only write about it but in relation to his grandfather who made a significant impact on him growing up, much like my grandmother to me.

It will mean lots of writing and re-writing, reading and reflecting, considering, mulling, frustration, excitement all in the name of writing out an exegesis in the first year and a project in the second year. And it seems right for this time in being able to gather many years of honing indigenous knowledge and being able to share it with his family, friends and those interested in his study.

I think the faaSamoa is very complicated yet simple in it's principles but when applying it to life has many considerations and facets that need to be thought about in depth. Definitely, no easy feat but I have faith and trust that this is a God opportunity that will no doubt bring about an understanding of what life's journey is often about.

All the best, my beloved in your research (rangahau) journey and may God bless your journey ahead...

Monday, 11 December 2017

Shared lunches making memories ...

 Back from Melbourne and straight into Christmas parties and shared lunches, prize givings and Christmas planning. Just finished my last weekend teaching and looking forward to graduation for my students for next year.

It's been a while since posting any food or recipes etc. as I'm not really a foodie but I do enjoy the occasional cooking with a little bit of a difference. Like my youngest telling me about having a shared lunch which is banned in some schools due to unhealthy food choices i.e. junk food choices that some children make.

The choice made by my youngest was to make kebab sticks and so marshmellows and strawberries were her obvious choices and I added small balony sausages and cheese, grapes and chocolate pineapples (as pictured above) with a bowl of grapes, cheese and marshmellows in the middle of the bowl for seconds.

A similar recipe actually featured in one of my short stories in a collection that I published in an anthology this year in the Mana Mangere writers collective collection. The short story was called 'Sunday school party' and it was similar to what my mother made for me many years ago when I was at primary school and like my youngest, the plate didn't last long as everyone enjoyed it.

I remember my youngest walking proudly to school with her big bowl as featured above and then returned with an empty bowl and a big smile of satisfaction that she had made a food choice that the class had enjoyed. It also put a smile on my face as it was relatively easy to make and there were some health (and a couple of naughty additions) to the kebab.

Sometimes we don't think about the food choices we make for our children for shared lunches but I will always remember that special lunch plate of kebab sticks that my mum made lovingly for me. I don't remember eating any as it went to the teacher but I do remember how she made something that was a treat that we didn't usually eat at home but that it was special and that thought stayed with me and was written into a short story...

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Justice League Superheroes at the movies...

There's been a strong interest in Superheroes in cultural myths and legends and indigenous story telling from time immortal with the need that people often invoke for a supernatural/superhero intervention when things aren't going so well.

And this movie won't disappoint those who enjoy seeing Superheroes work together for the common good of humankind that brings 6 Superheroes together on screen i.e. Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, the Flash and Cyborg.

For those who haven't watched the TV cartoon (I only watched it when my children would view it) for a younger audience when it was released a few years ago, I found the story lines very dark in going into the pathology of each character which I thought wasn't appropriate for younger audiences.

This movie, however, doesn't but does touch on some more understandable conflicts between characters and Wonder Woman, of course, remains as my all time favourite in growing up and watching Linda Carter act in the role in the TV programme role during the 1970s and now the role lives on in this movie screening.

It does contain some humour, although not as funny as Taika Waititi's Thor movie, but it does have a similar protagonist who comes to take over the world with graphics that didn't look as good as Taika's movie.

All in all, a movie that takes you on a journey whilst you suspend your reality and then return to see that they are Super-human after all...

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Welccome back from Melbourne...

Yarra River in Melbourne CBD
 It's neat to be back home from Melbourne with a pile of paperwork to be done and also final presentations for my Indigenous Research class this weekend which I'm really looking forward to as a tutor/lecturer/teacher in this field.

I must say that it was really interesting in visiting Melbourne this time and to see the changes since I last visited some 20+ years ago. It is definitely a Metropolitan city but didn't see a lot of the indigenous peoples in the CBD which was a similar observation during my short time in Oahu, Hawaii a couple of years ago and in many Metropolitan cities I've visited over the years.

The CBD Central Business District, more often than not, is a visual display of the perceived economic prosperity of a country and if the Indigenous people feature in that space then they play a visible role in the decision making sector of that society but if they are not visible then other dominate cultures are in those places of control and decision making.

I compare it to Samoa CBD, an independent nation, now with influence from China and that is visible in the CBD. I also observe this in NZ with a smaller Maori (indigenous peoples on NZ) presence in the CBD. Often tourists will flock to those centres to spend $ on entertainment, food, accomodation etc. and businesses will fall or thrive in those spaces.

It was definitely neat to take my family away to experience other cultural spaces and cities but also neat to be home...

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Melbourne Arts Centre and Christmas is coming...

Image result for melbourne arts centre One of the interesting things about Melbourne is that it is also known for being an arts centre similar to Wellington in NZ. It was interesting to see that the Pop up Globe theatre is here at the moment and there are lots of theatre, exhibitions and shows currently on which I wish I had the time for and the inkling but there are so many other priorities on.

As for me, it's a neat place to relax and be inspired as working on several different writing projects ie. 2 bilingual picture books, my Granma's biography and birth church's early years account, a colouring book and a lot more in my head ready to spill out on paper. The environment here definitely has the right vibe for creativity.

With not a lot of time before flying back to Auckland, I've been able to catch up on a few movies with the latest Star Wars movie to be released back home to catch up on when I return as well as 'the Star' family movie that I'd like to watch for Christmas.

And Melbourne shopping experiences have also been all geared up with Christmas sales and Christmas decorations galore which reminds me of the US with a big emphasis on home decor for the holidays.

Another reason why we're looking forward to going home to family and friends for the Christmas and festive season...

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Sight seeing and shopping in Melbourne...

Image result for victoria markets melbourneIt's been good to sight see and go shopping in Melbourne with family and you can't go past the Queen Victoria Markets which is close to the CBD and has an array of souvenir shopping, local fashions and cuisine, fruit, veges and meat markets. With so much to see and taste. The Wednesday night markets is a must see with a live band and lots of local food outlets.

Another place we've been encouraged to have a look at are the various outlets stores like the DFO Direct Factory Outlets stores in Essendon and another in the city called Spensers Street DFO. Again, there is much to see and interesting to see the brands and stores that are similar to Auckland's but prices are often so much lower.

However, the weather has become erratic starting with warm weather temperatures up to 35 degrees when we first arrived and then with flash floods and stormy weather this weekend which is similar to NZ weather with 4 seasons in a day.

Have enjoyed our visit but also looking forward to going back home in the next couple of days...

Friday, 1 December 2017

Melbourne the world's most liveable city...

Image result for melbourne It's been a while since I've visited Melbourne since having a family and a lovely change in now coming with my family with so much to see and experience.

One of the things that I've learnt is that Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city for 7 years in a row and that makes sense in the cost of living which is not as expensive as Auckland; the free trams and bicycles riding in the city that takes a little getting used to with free WiFi that is available anywhere in the central CBD Central business district too.

I can now see why some Aucklanders and indeed many people from different nationalities have decided to settle in Melbourne lately as the city is a reminder of the US but on not as big a scale although the highways do go on for miles.

However, on the flip side, locals have talked about how prevalent drugs are with warnings of being very careful when going to parks as sometimes there are syringes dropped in public places. In public toilets there are also small bins available for drug users to throw their syringes into.

I also watched a local TV documentary that discussed about how one in four homeless people in Melbourne are children and it seemed that it had a lot to do with the drugs which some are trying to import into Melbourne with a huge million dollar seizure on today's news.

Still so much to see and do in the most liveable city, Melbourne...