Monday, 31 December 2018


Image result for happy new year 2019

Being bi-lingual/multi-lingual Samoan/English...

No automatic alt text available. Yesterday, I went with my family to farewell my parents who are travelling back to Samoa as we look forward to visiting Samoa again, at the end of next month before school starts.

One of the things that I think is becoming more important for us as Samoans is teaching our future generations of diaspora Samoans living away from the homeland, concepts and values of the faaSamoa as well as how to speak the language.

As a result, I've purposed to attend beginner classes at PEC Pacific Education Centre at MIT, Manukau Institute of Technology, at level 1 NCEA, National Certificate of Educational Achievement units and work through the different modules with our our eldest to learn the language in a formal setting i.e. learning sentence structures and grammar etc.

Being brought up in the 80s as a teen, the educational philosophy at this time was to assimilate all cultures into Western thought with speaking English as the priority, the current education philosophy is now about being at least bilingual and even more important multi-lingual to be able to understand more than one view.

In my experience, this has been very interesting as an indigenous researcher and creative. It means that various perspective can bring about a better understanding of some of our universal values of: love, grief, loyalty, happiness etc. and to teach our children in reinforcing that our indigenous cultural values are important that there are more ways of understanding this world than only the ideas that they learnt at school...

Saturday, 29 December 2018

'Aquaman' highly recommended viewing...

On Boxing day, I went with some members of my family to view the much-anticipated movie 'Aquaman' starring Jason Moamoa. To describe the movie in one word without spoiling it for those who are yet to watch it, would be the word 'epic'.

There were many subplots to the movie although the central theme was around Aquaman saving the world through being an heir to the throne of Atlantis, a highly advanced aquiline civilization who's leader wants to wage war on the humans on land for pollution on land and sea.

The neat thing was seeing NZ Maori actor Temuera Morrison playing the role of the father of Aquaman next to Nicole Kidman as the mother and how aspects of Maori/Pasifika culture was seen in a few scenes of the movie: in the hongi that father and son share, aspects of Mau Rakau (Maori weaponry) demonstrated in the trident sword fights and tattooing as depicted on Aquaman's chest.

So for me as a writer, the elephant in the room was that the movie discussed the Western narrative of Atlantis portrayed as being of a highly advanced technological society with the absence of a Pacific narrative that could have been woven into the story about superior navigational peoples who were at one with the sea with father and son having that relationship.

Despite that, the movie was well worth watching although I wouldn't encourage young children to watch it in the movies as some of the aquiline creatures are pretty scary for those who scare easily. There are some plot twists and interesting storylines and would highly recommend it that definitely lives up to the hype...

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Christmas 2018 Done and dusted...

 This Christmas season has been one of the busiest Christmases on record for me with so much to do and see and so neat to have my parents visiting from Samoa with many visiting over and to spend this together with them and family has been a real blessing.

So apart from last minute shopping, it was also lovely to attend our churches Christmas Eve service at Life South campus and then to count down (or the children did it) the last seconds until Christmas day and then to open their first present at midnight (family tradition).

Early the next morning, a sang nostagic Christmas carols with my beloved and then started the preparations for the day after having wrapped Christmas presents under the Christmas tree the night before with an eagerly anticipating youngster impatiently awaiting for Christmas morning to officially open presents.

So for Christmas morning, I spent three hours in the kitchen preparing our feast lunch/dinner which was another Christmas present to our family and so neat to see a big smile on their faces on the day which consisted of:

  • a dressed ham
  • potato salad
  • surimi salad
  • sapasui
  • chicken and vege curry
  • 2 x trifles (with ice cream and chocolate log)
A simple menu that kept us returning for seconds and thirds in the remainder of the day whilst enjoying the company of each other and watching the children enjoy their gifts and listening to Christmas songs and happy music all day long.

And then finally to spend time with my eldest watching a Christmas movie until the wee hours of the morning and realising what a blessing this Christmas season has been for us as a family to spend precious time together in understanding the real reason for the season as the birth of a child who literally changed the world... 

Sunday, 23 December 2018

C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. music nostalgia...

As we enter the last couple of days before Christmas, there are some neat Christmas traditions that I had growing up in my family with some of our traditions that I continue today with my family such as decorating the non-fir Christmas tree, Christmas present shopping, Christmas menu consideration i.e. ham etc., the Christmas day or eve church service.

Another memory I had growing up was with Christmas music that we had playing during the season and Jim Reeves' Christmas songs was a popular album that my parents used to play so much so that I know every song on the album by heart and even used one of his songs C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. for one of my Christmas service plays at church, many years ago, with lyrics that reminds of us the real reason for the season.

C - is for the Christ child born to you this day
H - is for Herald angels in the night
R - He's our Redeemer
I - means Israel
S - is for the Star that shone so bright
T - is for Three Wise Men, they travelled far
M - is for the Manger where He lay
A - is for All He stands for
S - means Shepherds came, and that's why there's a Christmas day...

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Christmas season with your families and friends as we farewell this year and welcome in the New Year...

Friday, 21 December 2018

Celebrating first job for students...

Celebrating at Krispy Creme donut shop
 This week we celebrated the independence of our eldest in gaining a temporary summer job through a recruitment agency to work in various employment establishments in Manukau city. In doing this the gaining of valuable employment lessons, learning important life skills and communication skills in the various places the agency has been a bonus on top of getting paid.

I've heard, in some spaces, that some parents shy away from allowing their children to be employed at fast food outlets, warehousing opportunities or other employment opportunities due (in my opinion) to their lack of understanding in the valuable lessons that can be learned in one's life than tarring their reputation of lowering themselves to these so called menial jobs which is very short sighted.

I started working at the age of 12 till around 17 years of age at my dad's former employer's catering firm and I'll always remember the valuable life lessons that I learnt as a pre/teenager whilst working eight hour shifts during the weekends which were usually monthly Friday nights after school till 10.30 pm and Saturdays from 2 pm to 10.30 pm.

The lessons included:

  • not wanting to work in a job that I had to stand up in for 8 hours in which I'd come home with smoke in my hair and clothes
  • I didn't want to work in a job that I had to wear a uniform i.e. a smock or hairnet (usually food related job)
  • I didn't want to work indoors all day and needed to have some independence in where I worked not having to sit in one place or remain standing in one place all day
  • learning to not treat people badly as a supervisor as I had seen in many work places where managers had power issues
  • learning to have pride in the work I did and not take short cuts that would cost the company or people I worked with i.e. having a good work ethic which I learnt from my parents
  • being careful when relating with people i.e. not get into the 'gossiping' group or hanging around people with negative attitudes
  • being able to help out those who needed support in the work place i.e. usually women who were older and having empathy for those who shared difficult life stories with me as a teen
  • learnt to arrive early to work and to leave after the work was complete or to make up for it in some appropriate manner
  • I learnt that value of $ and not squandering it after having worked hard for it and also seeing how others spent their $
there's much more but those are some of the values and idea/ideals that come to mind and so it has been very interesting in having those conversations with our eldest in realising that these opportunities allow for one to walk in someone else's shoes in that these jobs are some people's livelihoods and may not be the perfect workplaces but they do provide monetary value for people.

And so we found ourselves celebrating through eating Christmas treats at 'Krispy Cremes' donut shop with our eldest's new found understanding that there are people who work in these different industries either as full time or part time employees who rely on these jobs to assist in their families.

It was also neat as a parent to see a certain maturity begin to form in these newfound interactions with workplaces and people whom one might not otherwise have had contact with. It was also neat to see a sense of satisfaction in now being able to earn their own $ without parental involvement apart from dropping off or picking up from the venue.

It's definitely something that I would recommend for our young people to experience part time or temporary work not so much that they can continue to work in such places but in order to see these opportunities as a way of understanding how the world works and the place that you wish to take within as an employer, employee, entrepreneur, creative, manager, innovator, investor, cleaner etc. a real eye opener... 

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Quick stop to Samoa and back...

Aerial pic of Upolu Samoa
It was so neat to take a short visit to Samoa for a few days to visit family and to check on things and then returned back early this week for my last week of work. 

It's definitely something that my family wants to do more of to keep in close connection with our family in Samoa and especially our parents in their retirement years.

I also really appreciate the airfares being more affordable than a couple of decades ago when it was well over $1K for a return ticket and that's a big thanks to Virgin Samoa airlines that really started a price war that has kept prices at bay for families although often Air NZ is the preferred carrier for many travellers to Samoa.

This trip I didn't get to visit Savaii again but it was really neat in becoming more familiar with the roads and where family members live and in not having to wait for another few years before the pilgrimage back to the motherland.

It also gave me time to write and reflect on some poetry that I'd been meaning to write for the next prose and poetry collection next year. It definitely is a privilege to be able to travel to Samoa and consider the differences that the motherland and culture has to diasporic Samoans living faaSamoa values away from the motherland.

So as the three week holiday season begins for my family, I'm so grateful for the many opportunities that have been brought about to share stories, learn from and consider about the different principles and values that I learned from the faaSamoa to pass on to future generations...

Friday, 14 December 2018

Annual Prize givings and goal making...

This year it was neat to be a part of our lil' one's prizegiving as although she didn't get a class prize she was able to receive commendation for completing her first tryathlon (swim, bike, run/walk) in being the only one to represent the school (she wanted to compete as her elder sisters had done in other schools) and also was one of two students of the school to be published in our latest book as the youngest author.

As for me, I became addicted to winning prizes and would make it my goal as a youngster to try and get prizes at end of the year prize givings be it: school, Sunday school, piano exams etc. I think it might be like the athlete who likes to compete to win.

So although it's not everyone's cuppa tea, I certainly took those ideas into adulthood and continued with collecting degrees, working up through the ranks in the workplace and in a way that competitive spirit has been beneficial for me but I realise that it's different with each child with the talents that they possess.

So for any disappointed parents out there, no worries as not everyone is going to get prizes at prize giving and it really depends on the talents that each child has and how the year went for them in the different prize getting categories.

I'm just truly thankful that I get to spend some neat quality time with each of my children in getting to know how they tick, the different talents they possess and supporting those talents as best I can through clubs or watching something with them or just listening to their dreams, goals and priorities.

The worst thing we can do is to make them feel bad about it because not everyone likes school or even wants to be singled out. I just know that for me, it worked but for my children it's up to them to find out what makes each of them tick with just enough support from me...

Thursday, 6 December 2018

27th Annual Weetbix 'Tryathlon' in Manurewa...

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking our lil' one to her first 'Weetbix Tryathlon' in Manurewa that comprises of a 50 metre swim, a 4 km cycle and a 1500 metre run (or walk) and she had a ball.

I must say that it is so well coordinated and everything goes by clockwork with different heats all going at the same time and lots of support from families, schools, sponsors for the competitors.

Our lil' one liked it so much that she wants to keep competing and I don't blame her what with all the hype and the neat gear that they get for joining in such as the bag, competing Tshirt, swim cap, golden medal that is received after finishing the event! and lots of games to play before and after the event.

It was neat to see many South Auckland schools join in but like I saw last time, there were so many that didn't and ours being the only one from her school to compete but definitely worth missing a day from school to be a part of something that promotes a healthy lifestyle and I hope she will continue in.

As for the parents, many of us were there cheering the children, coordinating bike dropoffs, gear in the transition areas and general supporting our kids out there.  I would definitely recommend this event to all parents and caregivers for their children as now our older children have neat memories and encourage and have tips for the younger competitors. A day definitely well worth going participating in for all...

Saturday, 1 December 2018

25 days to Christmas countdown...

Image result for 25 days to christmas With just 25 days until Christmas day there's still a lot for me to do before work finishes for the year and children finishing in the next couple of weeks for the Christmas holidays with the local outdoor swimming pools opening today.

Next week I'll also be flying out to Samoa for a few days to check out our build and also see what else needs to be bought. Am also visiting the Mega SSAB store in Apia and other Apia stores to see what household products and whiteware we can pick up instead of shipping from NZ.

However, the most important thing will be visiting with our parents and other family relatives in Samoa during these days. I'm definitely looking forward to warmer weather but not the flies nor mosquitoes and tasting the local foods and especially the fruit such as mangoes, pineapples, fresh bananas etc.

And with some books that I'm currently working on now for launching within the next few weeks, it makes for a busy time with the Christmas rush and just looking forward to a lot of R & R (rest and relaxation) during the Christmas and New Year period which always seems to finish faster than it took to come.

Roll on Christmas in remembering the true reasons for the season...

Friday, 30 November 2018

Building project in Fasito'o-uta, Samoa...

 This year has been one busy year of study and celebration for our whole family with the five of us all in school (the children) and the adults in Wananga (Maori indigenous higher place of learning) and then the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Samoan PIC (Presbyterian Pacific Islanders Church) coming together to celebrate and then two family reunions to attend with one in Samoa and the other in NZ and now supporting a building project in Samoa.

One of the things that we are well aware of is that life for us is only for a short time so that leaving a legacy for our future generations is very important. This particular building project is in my father's village of Fasito'o-uta in Upolu and although this is a more modern house we are looking to have the more traditional fale style built at a later stage.

In my first poetry collection, I wrote a poem about the importance of my father's connection to his parents and I am currently working on my third collection that also discusses that important connection now with his children and grandchildren.

Now looking forward to strengthening those connections and travelling more regularly to Samoa with our children to strengthen those ties and to for them to know where their ancestors came from on both sides.

Also looking forward to blessing the house/fale for our parents, family and visitors but also for future generations to view and know that it was a blessing from God to be connected as Samoans, within the village of Fasito-o-uta....

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Malu lima, Samoan woman's sacred hand tatoo...

I'd like to make a big shout out to Tracie from SSAB (Samoan Stationery and Books) for getting my sister and I in contact with Cliff Cole of Tautua Ink in Avondale regarding a lima malu or sacred hand tatoo for Samoan women.

The first time I noticed one was last year during a community meeting that I attended and the woman who wore it was in her 70s and when I asked her about it, she didn't venture into any details.

Then when I was in Samoa, last July, I became aware of it through one of my sister in laws discussing how many Samoan women from overseas were travelling to Samoa and requesting the lima malu on hand and/or legs.

It reminds me of the taulima (or tattooed arm band or wrist band) in the 1990s and then in the last 5 years the rise and interest of getting the leg malu or original malu on the legs now followed by this new phenomenon of have a malu tatooed on one hand usually.

There is much history regarding the origins of the malu that have been lost in time but some of the iconology that is used still remains the same for example:

  • centipede
  • caterpillar
  • stars
  • jellyfish
  • birds footsteps
  • the sacred womanhood icon etc.
Other icons that have been added onto the traditional symbols are the 'cross' of Christianity, possibly the fish and people icons but I stand to be corrected as well as there is still much for me to learn about this important tattoo for woman.

One thing that I am sure of is that it is an honour to wear it and a very humbling experience as I believe that what a tufuga ta tatau (Master carver) tatooes on an individual is the tatoo choosing the person and not the other way around.

I would also like to ask for women wearing either of the tatooes to remember that one must be cautious and aware of this ancient form of tatoo that carries with it responsibilities and expectations in wearing marks of honour, love, belonging etc. 

One must wear it in a way that is respectful and in humility of not bringing disrepute to it and carrying it appropriately with dignity and mana as the intellectual property does not belong to you but to Samoa.

Definitely something worth considering of not wearing it lightly...

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Celebrating Mangere PIC Samoan groups 50th Jubilee...

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a Happy 50th Jubilee Anniversary to the Samoan PIC (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church) Mangere my birth church.

It was such an important event because as a church they formed together in November of 1968 with my parents being one of the foundation members and one of four families who are still with the church to this day.

My father was also blessed to be one of the last remaining elder Deacons of two other original deacons who was able to see this special occasion come to fruition.

He was also one of the significant people who was able to bring about stability to the Samoan group in it's initial years in bringing families together and sharing the vision of a place to worship with many.

That is quite some legacy as there were some 20 families who joined up at the time but some have passed on with others no longer attending the church but for those of us who have over the years, it has become our village away from the homeland and a place to call home.

It's the place where we are able to come together as a family with spiritual guidance and support as well as a place for rituals to be performed such as weddings, birthdays, religious celebrations like Easter and Christmas etc.

It was a neat celebration service that I was able to attend on Sunday with families wearing a blue and white uniform that was picked out and some neat choir songs that were reminiscent of my growing up days in the choir.

A video then was shown of the families and ministers over the time starting with Rev Sio and Rev Bob Challis who was originally from England and were pivotal in the church becoming what it is today. My father was the origin Samoa group secretary for some 22 years from 1968 to 1990 and still holds the record to this day for his continuous service over the years.

It was then followed by a feast that each family was able to share in and gifts were distributed to the different people who had made a significant contribution over the years. It definitely made me think about the things that God has blessed me with over the years and I thank God for these precious memories to share especially with my parents and something to look forward to for future generations...

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary...

Happy 17th Anniversary yesterday, to my dearest pele and love of my life: Tofilau Fritz Toeta Faapoi Filisi. Who would have thought that a chance meeting (God's plan - the day before I was to fly out to my family in Samoa to receive my matai - chiefly title in Samoa) on 23rd January 2000, we would meet and decide to keep in touch.

And then back to NZ and then losing my one way ticket to Australia when you were meant to fly back to Malaysia and then having our first date on Valentines day in 2000 with our engagement announced 3 months later with the wedding the following year in Fiji.

It hasn't been easy with so many things happening in the interim with our 3 beautiful children and now still continuing to study and work with a new direction in our writing and researching in sharing our precious stories with the next generation.

I have been so blessed in learning and growing with this wonderful man and I thank God for his patience, endurance and stamina in keeping up with a very busy mother, teacher, creative, artist, writer etc. who only sleeps at night because I need to.

I thank God for a neat father, friend and talented husband as you who has the best intentions for his family, his aiga, our friends and wider circle of families, including our church family. You try to see the best in everyone and everything and balance out the niggles that I have in things.

We were meant to be and this has been proven time and time again in the various goals that we have superceded in the blessings that have been bestowed upon our families during the good times and the bad.

May the Lord continue to bless our families and protect our marriage with the best intentions and purposes for the future. I also hope that our children will have an enduring love for one another as our parents have been blessed with and now that we share. Thank you God for this special marriage and family...

Friday, 23 November 2018

Call out for: Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau (Indigenous research protocols)...

 This week I officially begin our recruitment phase for our next year's class in this being my last week with my class some of whom have been together with me for two years.

This next year, I'll be teaching my second class of 'Te Kungenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau' which could be translated as 'a gathering of world indigenous protocols through indigenous research principles.'

The interesting thing about this course is that apart from being a 36 week course (full time/full year) it helps indigenous peoples to understand Maori tikanga (protocols), their own indigenous protocols and other indigenous protocols that are shared through the class from different cultures.

I feel that this year, I've learnt a lot about looking at faaSamoa from a different perspective in understanding how principles of old have changed to what they are today and this brings about future implications too.

I'm also recruiting for those in our community who would like to enrol in our Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge course that will begin enrolling next year for the 2020 intake. As this year, I begin to work with them on considering indigenous research principles and knowledge that would be appropriate for using in the Masters programme especially if they are Masters in their cultural practice/s.

So if there are any who are interested to enrol out in our communities, then please get in contact and I can give further information....

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Farewell to my older brother's family visiting from Sydney, Australia...

Image result for older brothersThis blog is dedicated to my older brother and sister in law and their family and is a big shout out to all 16 members of whom were able to join our NZ, Samoa and American Samoa family Reunion of the Ah Siu clan/dynasty (ha ha) and also the unveiling of our grandmother's/mother's headstone a couple of weeks ago.

My brother and his wife are based in Sydney, Australia with their family and it was neat to see 3 generations of them perform a feat of working together, coordinating, cooperating and also learning together as they travelled to two countries that of NZ and also Samoa.

It is definitely a practice that I would recommend in reminiscing of how I travelled with my grandmother to Samoa and all of the things that I learnt with her being there. It's something that I think more families should consider in sharing new learning experiences between the older and younger generations.

It was also a chance for my parents to meet with their great-grandchildren and it was such an amazing thing to see 4 generations of people come together, including my father and his sister's children, as we all had dinner together, prayed together and generally enjoyed each other's company.

I was so encouraged in seeing my brother and sister in law take their family on a journey to Samoa for the children and grandchildren to see where a part of their cultural heritage originated from and then also that of their Maori heritage in my sister in law's cultural background here in NZ.

My brother was brought up by my grandmother and so I missed out on many experiences of having an older brother about as "officially" he would have been seen as my uncle but I once joked that he could be seen as my uncle/brother and I've always seen him as my older sibling.

Samoa of old, used to hold the relationship between brother and sister to be sacred also known as a 'feagaiga' or a sacred covenant. Things have changed a lot but it can still be seen and is quite strong in Tonga and I still see remnants of it in my family.

It was so neat to have had them stay overnight and my youngest already misses her Australian Uncles/Aunties and cousins. Those connections are precious memories of which I thank my older bro for taking this neat opportunity of meeting together.

Tofa Soifua and may God bless your family until we meet again...

Monday, 19 November 2018

Weekend NZ Book Festival...

On Saturday I exhibited at the NZ Book Festival in Mt Eden and had a neat time. This would be my fourth time attending this annual event and it's been great to see how the Festival has developed over the 4 years that I've exhibited with them.

The first time I exhibited, I think I only had a couple of books released at the time but now I have some 15 books: 6 bilingual picture books, 2 poetry/prose books, 2 community voices collections (edited) and 5 play.

And there is more in the making as there are so many important ancient and historical stories to tell as well to share some of the important values that the stories contain.

Now I need a little book display (as shown) to showcase the various genre and to visually display the different books as I'd like each cover to be a piece of art in itself (quite apart from the stories/poetry etc. that are contained within).

It was also a good time to catch up with some of the other exhibitors be it: printers, other writers, bloggers, educators, self-published authors etc. Many who have been long time writers, like me, who've taken the leap of faith to self-publish.

I'm also planning on visiting some markets this summer to exhibit but to also talk with members of the public about the books and the stories contained within as well as encouraging people to pursue after their dreams as you'll never know where/ what that path will take you to...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Ah Siu Family Reunion - NZ 9-11 Nov 2018...

This weekend we had our first New Zealand Ah Siu (Samoa) Family reunion in Auckland with family coming from Samoa, Australia and American Samoa to join in the festivities.

As far as we are aware, my great, great grandfather travelled from perhaps Shanghai in China on board a ship from America to land in Samoa in the 1800s.

From there he was able to work perhaps as a cook and worked his way in finding opportunities to acquire land, shops and married a Samoan woman of whom he had five children with.

Their eldest child was named Aialaisa and he was my great grandfather who was a ship's captain who died trying to put out a fire on the ship. My late grandmother was his eldest child and my father her eldest child.

This family reunion helped me to put the pieces together of a puzzle that I hadn't really been able to figure out in not having all the pieces until the gafa or family genealogy was shared in which I am now able to make the connections to villages and names that I hadn't understood earlier.

It was also neat to be able to meet new cousins as well as to see my elder brothers party of 16 who came from Sydney for the unveiling of the tombstone for my grandmother which was also on the weekend.

I count my family blessed for having had this time together in honouring those who had passed on, those who are the current elder leaders of our family and also looking at the generations that we currently have with plans afoot for another family reunion in Samoa in 2021.

A real blessing and privilege to be a part of...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Today marks 100 years since fatal Influenza epidemic hit Samoa...

Today, in Samoa and with Samoans all over the globe, marks 100 years commemoration of a devastating event that would have far-reaching consequences to the history of Samoa.

In 1918, the 'Talune' as pictured beside left New Zealand with passengers who were sick with the influenza virus.

Already in NZ it had begun to take it's toll with up to 9000 people dying by the end of its furvour.

However, in American Samoa not a life was lost because of the caution of the American administrator at the time and the quarantine that was in force that prevented the Talune from docking there.

That was not so for three other Pacific Island nations of: Fiji, Tonga and Samoa that did not escape as the ship headed to each port and left devastation behind in thousands dying within days and weeks of coming into contact with the dreaded disease between November and December of 1918.

In Samoa, it is estimated that around 10,000 people died perhaps a quarter of the population and these are estimates only because no one knows for sure in what happened. My maternal grandfather told my mother stories of what he'd seen as he was only 9 years old at the time and the devastation of seeing loved ones dying and disease decimating village populations.

My grandfather's own father died during that time and was buried in a lone grave in Fale'ula. There now stands a church next to his grave and I hope to write a book that will tell the devastating story for many to learn about and not forget.

In 2002, the then Prime Minister, Helen Clark, apologised on behalf of the NZ government for the NZ administration who had been negligent and were responsible for the thousands who had died. How can an apology cover over the suffering and the loss of so many generations?

I am so thankful that many more are more aware of what happened in Samoa's history 100 years ago, about what I wasn't taught in NZ schools and what I know was the apathy of NZ administrators whose feet this falls squarely at...

Friday, 2 November 2018

'Hibiscus and Ruthless' movie...

I finally got to watch 'Hibiscus and Ruthless' by the makers of 'Three Wise Cousins' last night thanks to my youngest sister who got things rolling as I'd been talking about watching it at the movies but due to my busy schedule, I wasn't able to get there during the premiere etc.

So when I watched it with my own children, I couldn't help laughing at some of the Samoan jokes and nuances that I was aware of and that many other non Samoans might not understand especially the mum's staunch and strict upbringing of her daughter of which I could relate to through my father.

It was also funny because the Uni scenes were set at Auckland University where I spent the better part of five years of my life in the Arts Faculty and the Gym. Most of it's since been upgraded but it still stirred a lot of good memories in studying and the carefree life of being a poor Uni student at the time.

The storyline of the movie started quite funny in parts but by the middle of the movie it turned serious and sort of lost it's funny bone but still reconciled the two generations of the mother and the daughter with their different values and the daughter's pakeha friend who sometimes seemed to take on the Samoan values more than her Samoan friend.

Still, it was an interesting movie that I would recommend for Samoan young woman to watch with their families, especially if they come from traditional ones like the way I was brought up because I know of a lot of young women who rebelled and ended up pregnant or left home early or eloped because they couldn't reconcile their ideas with the traditional ones.

Highly recommended for a laugh at the beginning but then a serious message at the end, much like 'Three Wise Cousins'...

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Happy Birthday 99 years Grenma...

Today would have been the 99th birthday of my Grenma (my special name for my granma as a child) as it's the first year that we won't be celebrating her birthday as a family as she passed away last year soon after her 98th birthday.

Next week we will be celebrating the Ah Siu family reunion, the family from which her paternal grandfather came from, in China, and also the unveiling of the inscription on her tombstone.

She played a large role in my life having been the matriarch of our family for almost all of my life and it still brings to tears know that she has passed on as we shared some close memories over the years and I learnt a lot from her.

Her personality was characterised by fierce determination, independence, faith in God and she was quite the pioneer being one of the first members of our aiga (family) to travel to NZ in the 1950s and from here she helped to sponsor many family members to NZ including my father.

There's a family book that I've started working but that's a work in progress as I look towards family working together on it for launching on the memorial of her 100th birthday which I hope to celebrate with family in Samoa.

So that even though she has passed on to a better place, her memory and legacy live on in her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren etc. No doubt in the following weekend, we'll be sharing some stories about Grandma and the hard case that she was at times and also the softer moments.

She is definitely a role model for me in being stoic in what she believed in and there have been times when things have gotten pretty tough that I've thought about what my grandmother would have done and that reminds me to be courageous, to take heart and to not let anyone push their agenda around especially when I know that it's not the right thing to do. My grandmother was one tough lady, as pioneers had to be back in the day, but she also had a heart for people with her generousity.

So this Halloween day when children are running around 'trick or treating' I'll spend some time reflecting on the special times we spent together with her as a family, we'll visit her tombstone this evening and remind my children to consider some of the important things that she taught us in looking forward to the family reunion that she made us a part of and I thank God for her...

Monday, 29 October 2018

SPOTLIGHT on: Michel Mulipola artist extraordinaire...

This weekend has been full on and it got me thinking that each month, in this blog, I'll like to feature some of the amazing things that are happening for our Pasifika people out there.

This weekend I had the privilege of speaking at and participating in the inaugural 'South Auckland writers Festival' which was held during the weekend at the Mangere East village community halls and although the numbers were small (I've been accustomed to in our community with various events) I really enjoyed listening to the experiences and perspectives of different writers and artists.

One of those artists was Michel Mulipola (please excuse the spelling mistake on the pic as it was sent to me by someone else at the talk) and what was fascinating about him was that he shared about being an international artist (comic drawings), a professional wrestler and an International gamer who had made it recently to Las Vegas to represent NZ! So that not only was he good at drawing, which had been his dream in school but also in two other arena as well.

He represents himself as a Samoan artist brought up in Mangere and it was neat to listen to his down to earth, and funny, humble way of describing some pretty amazing artwork that he's done - which is an accomplishment for a self taught artist (as he describes himself).

For example: he's designed book covers for school Journals, illustrated David Riley's Pasifika heroes books, illustrated for school journals, and now currently drawing for various comic books in USA and particularly for Professional Wrestling comic books. As well as that he also defends his title in the NZ pro wrestling arena and teaches professional wrestling to trainees. He is also a gamer in his spare time having travelled to USA on several occasions for various tournaments and came second in an International competition this month.

He's definitely a speaker that I would highly recommend for our young people to listen to and to learn from about how you can make a dream happen by just taking that first step of giving it a go. He also was very humble in not taking himself too serious in just enjoying what he is doing at the moment and was very encouraging in that his office is in his backpack which he takes everywhere with him so that people can consider different ways of working and not having to sit behind a desk or stay within four walls.

He is definitely a Samoan artist, professional wrestler, ardent gamer who is living the dream...

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Whakatane...

Masters and Doctoral Theses at Awanuiarangi
Yesterday I arrived in Whakatane with our youngest to refine my PhD topic. Te campus of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi is a beautiful campus located right in the town with lots of eateries around and much to see and do.

However, because I'm not here on a sightseeing tourist visit, I've purposed to get much of my thinking and clarifying done which has been neat for me.

Yesterday, I also got to have a look at the library theses that have been submitted in the various Masters and Doctoral programmes over the years. It was also good to see a couple of Samoan Masters theses from the Apulu family who have been associated with Te Wananga o Aotearoa for many years and a Cook Islands thesis (although I might have missed a few). It has been good to see Pasifika people engaging with indigenous ideas in the academic landscape because come from a navigating spirit which has lain dormant and been lost for but is now reviving.

It's also been neat to see some of my colleagues from Te Wananga o Aotearoa and people whom I've met in my life's journey studying here for their Masters or Doctoral studies. This week many people have converged on the campus for PhD and Masters engagement with international speakers, catching up with the supervisors and writing, writing, writing.

For me now, it's about finishing what I started and going on a journey that hopefully will bring back much for our next generations...

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Tonga's 'Sea of Red' the real winners...

If you don't know what the 'Sea of Red' refers to then you probably aren't aware of Tonga's efforts to support their Rugby League team with the slogan 'Mate Ma'a Tonga' (die hard Tongan) to the international stage which has done wonders for Tongan morale and community spirit as the rest of us New Zealanders and the rest of the world watches on.

I must say that as a SamoaNZ, I look on with surprise, support and am pleased at how Tonga is representing on the world stage with their fervour, passion and red and white flags that have been seen blowing about on cars, house, fences and hands etc. especially in South Auckland.

You only had to drive around the suburbs of South Auckland to see houses decked out in red and white with cars decorated with red and white flags, tapa cloth and many wearing supporters red shirts, face painting, hair etc. to see that this was a real important event for many a Tongan with their high interest in sports and supporting their team which has a history all of its own i.e. in that high paying Tongan sporting heroes giving up high pay checks in Australia Rugby League to play for their country.

It was also amazing to watch the Rugby match live on TV last night with Australia vs Tonga. It was expected that Australia would win but in watching how the audience were almost all dressed in red and white with the lone Australian flag spotted, and singing their lungs out, the Tongans were the real winners.

The atmosphere seemed electric and English fans thought that they could sing their hearts out at their rugby/football matches but the Tongan songs that I think were meant to inspire the team was out of this world. Some, I overheard in one Tongan Rugby fans conversation with another, had even flown in from Tonga especially for match!

Tonga definitely made it proud and there were many winners in their efforts i.e. the companies who sold Tongan flags did very well, as did the sold out stadium, the Tongan Rugby league companies' paraphenalia, the airlines who sold extra plane tickets for the game and those who call themselves Tongan. Definitely team supporters to watch out for in the future...

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Mahana movie based on Witi Ihimaera's book...

Have since recovered after White Sunday where I noticed that there were far less children and families attending and also watched the New Zealand movie 'Mahana' about a Maori family with a patriarchal leader who rules with an iron fist played by Temurera Morrison.

It's set in the 1950's and is a retelling of one of Witi Ihimaera's books 'Bulibusha', who happens to be one of my fave Maori authors. I read the book many years ago and enjoyed his style of storytelling which often deals with issues with Maori land, culture and European clashes etc.

The ending of the movie was really interesting as it reminded me of some Samoan patriarchal male traits that often splits families apart i.e. having my way or the highway and when families are put under that kind of stress the children usually suffer and there are almost irreconcilable differences that are still not resolved after the death of the patriarch.

It's definitely a movie worth watching and interesting to watch the fave director, Lee Tamihori, in action as he directed the movie and some of the interesting scenes that took place like two Maori families racing to church in their cars to get to get to a funeral.

Have a neat week out there...

Friday, 12 October 2018

SSAB Sei Oriana shopping for White Sunday...

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing This year we've gone for supporting our local SSAB Samoan Stationery and Books store, Sei Oriana, located next to Mangere Town Centre Shopping centre for jewellery and our youngest's outfit. I'm thinking the same for when Christmas comes along too.

Unfortunately, a lot of other stores have jumped on the bandwagon of 'White Sunday' clothing and have started sewing up or acquiring white outfits that our Pasifika people pay megabucks for each year and they make significant profits from them too.

Might I suggest that we begin to use our $ wisely by either buying products made by our Samoan and Pasifika businesses (although shoes can be problematic unless there is a Pasifika business out there) or by making them up ourselves or paying a Samoan dressmaker like Cara's in old Papatoetoe or Yeng Tung in Mangere (I hope that spelling's correct).

Not only does it become tailored to your taste and made with love but you're also supporting local Samoan or Pasifika businesses and not those who are only wanting to acquire in profits without any obligation or commitment to our communities.

I say this in being aware that there are shop owners out there who are quite happy to make our Pasifika clothes or cook our foods but don't eat it themselves and are not interested in the health aspects of ensuring that the meat is of high quality and is not saturated in fats.

It's the same for our Pasifika clothes, often they are made for profits with little regard for those who are wearing it or for the reasons of why we are celebrating this event. As Pasifika people, we need to commit to supporting those who genuinely wish to support our communities and that is why I'll be supporting our local Pasifika/Samoan businesses, who work ethically, whenever possible...

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Lotu Tamaiti - White Sunday preparations...

This week is the last week for the annual 'Lotu Tamaiti' or White Sunday preparations. It's been held for decades since the missionaries docked on Samoa's harbour and proclaimed that the children needed a Sunday whereby they could wear white clothes, recite bible verses, sing hymns, perform Christian stories and receive a big to'ona'i (feast) at the end of it.

My parents both said that it was like Christmas where the children were served first in the toonai and getting new white clothes (or recycling the old ones) were like a very big celebration unless one didn't do very well in performing their part on the church stage, as they might be ridiculed.

Over the years I've had my fair share of Lotu Tamaiti roles starting with my father's inaugural induction of myself and my two siblings reciting Psalm 1 in Samoan to our church in acknowledging Lotu Tamaiti in Samoa in the late 1970s (before it was ever a part of our NZ church culture) and then from there playing Jesus (earlier blog), conducting the choir, singing various songs, bible readings or recitals, plays, you name it - I've probably done it and now that my children have experienced it, it's been interesting to watch their reactions too.

This year, two or our children are participating with our youngest doing a dance to Annie's song 'Iesu e lo'u uo alofa' which is one of my favourites of her songs. It has a fast tempo and when I watched my daughter's class dancing to the song, I think they did a good job.

This was one of Annie's songs in her younger years when her mother (my auntie) cut her first album. Since then she has gone on to produce two more albums of which I enjoy listening to. So I'll often hear her music at wedding receptions, at school dance performances or on the radio which is really neat. A music ministry that reaches out across the globe to many a Samoan needing inspiration.

So as the young people gear up for our annual Lotu Tamaiti this Sunday, the second Sunday of October, not only will there be a lot of white clothes and shoes snapped up, but also preparations for the feast and relief for many a child that their memorisation of long biblical passages or roles are over for another year...

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Book Festival 2015 Highlights

Looking forward to this year's NZ Book Festival to be held in Auckland at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on Saturday 17th November from 10am - 4pm. It'll be the fourth festival that I've attended and each year they offer more for book lovers and readers and have giveaway bags for the first 100 attendees.

The above You Tube clip features the 2015 Book Festival highlights and it was the first that I attended on the North Shore, the Festival has since moved to Mt Eden. At the time I had only self-published 3 books with dreams to continue on my journey.

Now three years later and some 15 books later, I'm really enjoying the journey and constantly anticipating the next book to come. I'm currently now working on a book that commemorates the 1918 flu epidemic that took the lives of perhaps 25% of the Samoan population in 1918.

It might also be the reason why there may be some things i.e. stories, genealogies missing in our Samoan culture and through the generations that weren't passed down due to so many affected by the killer disease.

But this clip is a reminder about where I started and the continuing journey that I hope will be an encouragement to others to never give up on your dreams, no matter how long it takes to get there - it's worth the journey...

Saturday, 6 October 2018

1918, 100 years since the devastating flu epidemic...

Tonight I went with my beloved to watch '1918' a dance theatre production by Le Moana dance and storytelling group on a one night show showing at the Q Theatre on Queen Street in the city. I'd heard about it on Facebook and decided to watch their rendition of this devastating story as a part of Samoan history.

It's one of the last shows with only 3 more to go for this year and it first was in Mangere Arts centre in 2015 of which I missed (hadn't heard about it) and it's been to USA, Samoa and has been shown in different centres with many positive reviews.

For me, going to watch it is a part of the research that I'm doing both as it will feature in my Doctoral thesis but also in that I'll be releasing a book in commemoration of this event in having lost my great grandfather during this time.

For the actual production, it was interesting in the dance routines but disappointing in the storytelling. Considering that it was a very traumatic story in that Samoa lost about a quarter of its population at this time, the storytelling of the production was very light on the information that lead up to the devasting event.

After the show, there were many comments but it was the last comment of the last commentator who spoke about the elephant in the room in being that it was the New Zealand administrator at the time who in fact allowed sick people to go to Samoa which brought about genocide of a people that resulted in Samoa being the first Pacific nation to become independent and that theatre can be a vehicle to make political statements.

It's also the reason for why our next book to be released will be in December in commemoration of this traumatic event and memory of many of our ancestors who lost their lives through no fault of their own. Lest we forget...