Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Auckland Anniversary long weekend...

Mairangi Bay beachfront
Long Bay's infamous Flying Fox
Auckland Anniversary was a neat long weekend break that was needed to break the monotony of work starting again with days before school starts for many families with the monies needed for school lunches, uniforms, bus/train tickets, stationery, school trips, after school activities and sports clubs etc.
Last week we went to two beaches in a day on the East coast with Mairangi bay and it's picturesque view with Rangitoto Mountain in the background and then later to Long Bay just a few minutes drive away with it's neat park for kids to play on.
Add to that a dip in the local pools from the scorching sun and a chocolate dipped ice cream from that Multi-national company with the golden arches and "Bob's your uncle" an expression of delight for those who are unfamiliar with that English saying. 
Needless to say that this summer has been quite neat for those of us who like the tropical sun but for those who don't - it's been quite exhaustive and it's been said that this summer is the hottest we have ever had on record (or since the records have been kept).
But not to worry, as I've figured that we only get summer for 3 months of the year and only a few weeks of full sunshine but the rest is pretty much cold, colder and coldest during our deep winters and with Autumn just over the horizon it won't be long before we're jumping back into our winter woollies but until that time, I'm going to enjoy my time in the sun...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

First birthday of the year...

Happy birthday to our not so lil' teenager who stands at almost 5' 10" and dwarfs me by comparison and has been commented by scouts for basketball and netball etc.

This is going to be an interesting year as entering high school with its many issues today on appearances, social norms and peer pressure etc. that often it's hard to navigate through 5 years of high school and come out of the other end happy and well rounded.

Will be keeping a close eye on things from an academic, social, spiritual and cultural stance etc. as it's what a mother does to support in navigating through these often turbulent years but also allowing for natural justice to occur when it needs to i.e. not 'rescuing' if there's a lesson to be learnt.

I think one of the things that state schools don't teach well at all (except for state integrated - faith based schools due to separation between the state and religion) is that of having a moral compass i.e. why choosing not to be a bully in school is better than being the one who intimidates others.

One is expected to just somehow learn the difference between what is 'right' and 'wrong' in a world that encourages the social norms of relativism. I'm more of the old parenting style who believes in choices and consequences i.e. to not go by your 'feelings' and that there needs to be a 'line in the sand' just like if you don't believe in gravity because you can't see it but jump out of a 5 storey building with no parachute then you better believe that some natural laws are going to come into effect.

It's a part of my Christian upbringing and it was also a conscience choice that I made as an adult to bring up my/our children with a faith based Christian values and a principled approach which often gets us into some interesting conversations when I talk with my teens about what the 'world' and school says and what I believe and teach them although they will have to make those decisions for themselves as adults.

Wishing our pleasant mild mannered, middle child a very happy birthday and a blessed year ahead...

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Goal setting with funding confirmed...

Image result for goal setting Great news for me today was getting the 'go ahead' or approval for an arts funding application that I made to my local board as a result of the success of last years exhibition and community book launch. This year I wanted to:

  • hold a series of week long writing workshops with local high schools in Mangere and Otahuhu as a part of a competition to seek entries submitted for a collection of short stories and poetry for a publication alongside the Mana Mangere writers collection who will also be the judges.
  • to self-publish a funded book to be launched on a topic that I started my first PhD in Geography at Auckland Uni back in 1997 (but never finished due to getting married and starting a family) called a 'sense of belonging'.
This is again one of my many projects that I'm working towards this year as I'm definitely into setting goals from one year to the next, making plans towards those goals and then working on the plan with determination to make it happen. Then to reach the goal and celebrate it later i.e. I'm big on celebrations and sharing it with a community of people (even if that means just my family).

As one of the values that I learnt from my parents and in working within my Pasifika community is about learning to share knowledge and allowing others to also learn from those experiences so that they too can succeed. This does mean teaching about self discipline and working with integrity but it also means allowing for mistakes to happen and that means not always 'rescuing' people from learning about valuing others and the resources within an environment.

So now that I have the 'green light' go ahead, it's about organising and gathering all the different people and resources to design the workshops and the book which is no easy feat by any means but it is an opportunity for learning that I never had when I was in high school.

Now thanking God for these neat opportunities of working within the community and sharing what I've been gifted with for our next generations...

Monday, 22 January 2018

A new routine - Gym!...

The gym where my 'New Year's Resolution' 2018 is cracking...
 I have a new routine that started last week and it's keeping a New Year's resolution that I made many years ago - ha ha ha. Yes, it's going back to the gym and it's been neat so far. Plus there was a 25% discount for the year if you join up this month so that was a neat incentive to get serious and make a start.

I must say that over the years one of the hardest things since being fit and having our last baby was the motivation to get everything sorted and now that I have, it makes me wonder how I was able to do it at all. So now as well as my work bag, I also take a big workout bag that contains:

  • My gym gear for the workout including: pen/gym notebook, shoes/sox, gym clothes, gloves (for the weights)
  • water bottle and small towel for sweat
  • watch/fit bit and key tag
  • office clothes to change back into, hanger
  • toiletries: soap/shampoo/conditioner, towel, comb
One of the things I've learnt after many years of going and then not going for ages is start with an assessment and then work out a programme (or get someone qualified) to write up a workout plan for you. One thing also to keep in mind is not to burn yourself out in the first week or even day and then not attend anymore.

The programme that I've decided to go with is a 6 day split body workout over a week with some Cardio. It's a fairly simple workout that will ease me back into things as follows:

Day 1: Warm up / Stretches / Upper body workout / stretches / cool down
Day 2: Warm up / Stretches / Lower Body workout / stretches / cool down
Day 3: Warm up / Stretches / 20 mins Cardio / stretches / cool down
Day 4: Warm up / Stretches / Upper body workout / stretches / cool down
Day 5: Warm up / Stretches / lower body workout / stretches / cool down
Day 6: Warm up / Stretches / 20 mins Cardio / stretches / cool down
Day 7: Rest up and Chillax

So far I'm up to Day 5 of my 30 day self-challenge with a re-newed outlook and a lot more energy than I used to have. In fact, in the first day, I could feel my muscles tingling as well as realising how stiff I'd become in not stretching much over the months, years so it's back to training those muscles to come out of their hibernation and to give it heaps.

I must also remember about the usual health warning to go and see a Doctor if you haven't been exercising for ages if you're taking any medication but other than that give it a go and you'll be surprised at what you can achieve.

I must say that the endorphins definitely kick in after the workout and the best part of the workout for me over the years has been the long shower afterwards which is by far my favourite stretch :) So why not give it a try and do that 30 mins workout whether it be gardening, dancing, walking, yoga, hiking etc. you're body is your friend for life...

Sunday, 21 January 2018

New poetry and short story collection...

Image result for short stories collectionIt's an exciting time as I'm currently working on my first short stories collection with some poetry. This is the collection that I have been working on since launching my first poetry collection called 'Pacific Hibiscus' in 2015. In fact, I'm currently in the throes of reprinting the poetry book and a couple of our other more popular books that are out of print.

This particular book will feature some new and some older poems that I didn't include in the first collection. It also builds on some of the themes that I started discussing in the first collection regarding legacies, identities and indigenous knowledge.

I'll also be publishing some of my earlier short stories that I've had time to mull over and rework / rethink in paving way for my novels which are still in the reworking phase. The first short story I published was last year (2016) in the 'Mana Mangere Voices' collection with other writers from the Mana Mangere writers collective. It is the closing story called 'Sunday school party' which was based on an experience I had as a child.

The thing I like about writing and reading short stories is that with a limited amount of space one must craft a story that hopefully will be memorable for the reader as well as thought provoking or invoking of thoughts and emotions. Will post on this blog when all is said and done...

Friday, 19 January 2018

'Star Wars - The last Jedi' part VIII...

Got to watch 'Star War's - the last Jedi' yesterday and thought it was quite an interesting storyline with three of it's main stars no longer in the movie i.e. the character of Hans Solo was killed by his son in part 7 and in this movie Luke Skywalker disappears presumably to the after life (although he could make an appearance again later) and Princess Leia has died in real life and won't feature in the next movie except perhaps her funeral?

I presume that there will be a Part 9 because there is one last Jedi (who happens to be a woman) left and a remnant of the Rebel cause but her past hasn't been revealed in detail. This leaves this 3 part triology in a quandry because throughout it's almost 50 year history these 3 characters have played a major role in the hearts and minds of their fans.

I remember anticipating the first 'Star Wars' movie back in the 70s as a child and being astonished by all the special effects that were amazing on big screen. There were unprecedented unimaginable feats that were screened for the first time on the movie screen that we now take for granted with the saturation of digital effects being a commonplace thing on TV and in movies.

Perhaps this film will signal the last movie and final trilogy that perhaps needs to come to its own natural end as although the fight between the perceived 'good' and 'evil' continues much like the Chronicles of Narnia (by C. S. Lewis) series where all was well when the main characters left but upon their return they must restore order from chaos long left behind from long ago.

I must say that I really enjoyed the first three movies in their heyday and the lost interest in the second triology, although I did watch all three of them, but now in its third trilogy I've regained interest and in watching the development of the movies over the years, Lucas Films has really pulled together an endearing series of movies for fans who will be interested in perhaps the last installment of its films in the next movie screening.

For now, I congratulation George Lucas Master film maker and director whose vision, must like Steve Jobs with Apple and I phones etc. were master crafters and visionaries who took us with them on a journey from their personal and professional discoveries to somehow try and make this world a better place...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Unsung Pasifika Heroes - Bob Lemalu 'Real Estate Angel'...

Image result for bob lemalu I wanted to write a testimony and a regular monthly blog on 'Unsung Pasifika heroes' highlighting Pasifika people in our community who go that extra mile to support our Pasifika communities.

Over 10 years ago we took the risk and jumped into buying a rental property with little understanding and a 'let's see how this goes' kind of attitude. It was a very steep learning curve and fraught with lots of paperwork, $ funnelled all over the place for repairs, maintenance etc., some difficulties with damaged property, overdue rents and getting to know what it was like dealing with 'tenants' and being the 'landlord' and the laws and responsibilities around it etc.

10+ years later, we were ready to sell up the property and release ourselves from some of the inevitable headaches that we took on (instead of hiring a property manager) and thought to look for someone to take care of selling it.

Bob Lemalu's card turned up in our mailbox, and having thrown away so many over the past years, I decided to give this Samoan (I guessed by the name) Real Estate agent (now angel) a go and we have never regretted it, have never looked back and highly recommend him to you.

From the get go, he was very understanding of our needs and listened to our thoughts patiently, he walked alongside us and when our first campaign didn't end up in a sale, he continued giving us support and prayers as well as giving suggestions and never giving up hope.

We have now sold the property and cannot speak highly enough of him. He cares enough to ensure that we know what is happening every step of the way. Over the years, I have met with different real estate, insurance, banking, contractors etc. and within the first few minutes of a conversation you get a vibe for whether this person is going to look out for your needs or solely for theirs.

Bob was not that kind of guy. He is the kind of person that you can trust to watch your back and to go into bat for you with his Pasifika values of caring and respect, he is considerate and honest, something that you don't see too much in the market place with so many compromising their values for the mighty $.

Bob doesn't know that I'm writing this (I'll contact him after I've published it) but I wanted to share this blog with others as a way of sharing our story about an 'Unsung Pasifika Hero' who made a significant contribution at a time when we needed someone to trust and work on something special on our behalf.

Thanks Bob and blessings to you and your family, and I hope that many, many more people will support you in what you do well...

NCEA levels 1, 2, 3...

Image result for ncea results 2018A neat congratulations to our eldest who received first New Zealand formal educational qualifications through NCEA level 1 with excellence endorsement as a 15 year old. I saw the hard work and was able to support late night efforts with encouragement to give it the best for time permitted.

I must say that having read the stat's on NZ high school qual's in being a lot of pressure at so young an age and for three years where as most OECD high schools have the last two years of secondary school exams as being the time for formal exams.

And having been within the educational system firstly as a 5 year old and now an educator, it's a concern that so many of our youth get left behind in a rigorous education system that takes no prisons and leaves anyone behind who doesn't conform to its rigors.

What does that mean you might ask? In our education system, young people quickly make choices in their first two years of schooling that already begins to narrow their options for later choice i.e. In year 10, second year of high school, they must make decisions as to what subjects they will be examined for in the following year/s in their 5 year stint in high school.

That means that as 13 - 14 year olds, they need to have a supportive environment both at school and at home to be able to support them into making the right choices according to their interests and abilities and schools need to be able to offer them those choices with good teachers who can teach those subjects well and a home environment that nurtures success.

It is no wonder that not all our youth have that synergetic support at school or at home and its really a balancing act to get that combination right in order for the child to succeed. I know it in my own home when things can get chaotic but we as parents/care givers need to put our best foot forward in order for our children to gain successes in their lives.

It's also a balancing act about teaching our cultural principles and values to our children through our own actions as opposed to a school system that values individualism, competition of the fittest/smartest and qual's as being the measurement worthy of mention.

We need to be there to support and help navigate our young people through these white waters/black waters rapids of education so that they don't 'tip' or get left behind on the banks or 'drown' in the fiery waters. We also need to be there to remind them about not being arrogant or conceited but to be reminded of our Pasifika values of humility, having empathy and supporting others where we can.

I congratulate our eldest and also many others who have succeeded in this season of their lives but am also reminded that this is the first of perhaps many years of study, or setting goals to pace oneself and to not be complacent, to remember that there is a spiritual realm that is very real and to set goals that will inevitable path the way to a healthy and a happy fulfilled future...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

'The Great Map of NZ stories'...


Image result for map of nzLast week, I came across a website called 'The Great Map of New Zealand stories' that seeks to locate books that mention NZ landmarks, geographical features, towns and cities, monuments or anything else that people have written or have read.

I then thought about the books that I had written that mention NZ towns and have uploaded the covers of 3 of my books so far:

  1. 'Tagaloalagi' (2015) a play that is located in Otara, Manukau
  2. 'Pacific Hibiscus' (2016) a poetry collection with poems about Mangere
  3. 'Mana Mangere Voices' (2017) a collection of short stories and poetry by people who have either lived, worked or have studied in Mangere with some writings located in Mangere.
Again, this has been a privilege to have been a part of and will be revisiting some of my other books to see which books have specific NZ place names etc. within them. As most of my picture books mention Samoa.

It does, however, encourage me to consider writing more about the country/island that I live in having travelled throughout the North Island and having visited some of the South Island areas. So in my next poetry collection will be considering to write about Queenstown and Wanaka, Christchurch as I remember it before the devasting earthquake and surrounding places in the North Island.

If you are interested, why not check it out in the hyperlink above...

Sunday, 14 January 2018

South Auckland Writers Festival 2018 in Mangere...

Image result for mangere east community learning centreYesterday, I met with Holly Langley, the coordinator for the inaugural South Auckland Writers Festival, which is proposed to be launched in Mangere for the weekend of 26 - 28 October 2018 and utilising the Mangere East community centre as the hub for planned activities during the weekend. She is also looking for more South Auckland writers to join the event and she can be contacted on hollygeneen@gmail.com for further information or to register your interest.

This is a great opportunity for South Auckland writers, particularly Indie or self-published writers to share their books and stories for local communities to access rather than having their books gathering dust on library bookshelves or forgotten stockpiles in garages etc.

It's also a neat venue in that in the last decade the area has had a revamp with its various associated sites and has become a hive of various activities with its associated venues i.e. the new Mangere East library that I had a book launch at a couple of years ago, the old Metro theatre which is adjoining that once was a movie theatre but now utilised by the local community, the community centre which has become a hive of activities with its after school clubs and evening/day classes, the bowling club and adjacent netball courts, soccer/rugby fields and clubs that my children have joined up over the years, as well as the 'village green' where the annual cultural festival and December evening markets were held, not to mention (almost forgot) the Massey Homestead which was once home to one of New Zealand's early Prime Ministers and a place I used to frequent as a budding artist in the 1980s and then writer in the 1990s.

This is such exciting news as I have been to various writers and authors book events all over Auckland but none in my hometown so this will be the first to showcase South Auckland writers to the various communities out there and a chance to network and share our stories with local high schools, organisations and interested people in our local communities.

This is a far cry from the time that I first went to the local high school and the only writer that I could identify ethnically with, as a 13 year old, was Witi Ihimaera, a Maori writer from the East coast who wrote short stories about his Maori community in his 'Pounamu, Pounamu' collection. I remember reading his books and being fascinated by some of his stories that I could relate to as a young SamoaNZ and it was a book shared with the class by my dearly beloved English teacher who later became a friend, the late Ms Mary Kayes.

She probably was one of the catalysts for why I loved learning the English language and in fact thinking back on my teenage years, I had some pretty neat English teachers who fostered in me a love for reading and learning to understand and decipher this mysterious language with all its nuances.

I've offered my services to support the committee, as a local, to share my local knowledge for such an event and looking forward to how it unfolds and the possible workshops and activities during the weekend that will connect writers with the local communities and look forward to this being an annual event at different localities.

Definitely an event to look forward to, so watch this space with more news to follow leading up to the event.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

'Goodbye Christopher Robin' movie...

Last night I watched the movie 'Goodbye Christopher Robin' with my family and found it very sad to learn about the backstory to the popular 'Winnie the Pooh' series by A. A. Milne. In fact, it is still so popular that a century after he wrote it, it is still being promoted through childrens' books, movies and merchandising that the characters appear on.

I brought up my children reading and knowing each of the characters and we laughed as we recited the different characters of: Tiger, Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Eyore etc. whilst watching the movie. The sad part was that Christopher Robin was actually based on the son of the writer Alan Milne and he later regretted the popularization of the book that ruined his childhood through exploitation and bullying from his Boarding school peers which continued for most of his early life.

So much so, that if was documented that he even refused to receive any money from the profits of the books etc. it had had such a devastating effect on his life that he wanted to live without it and instead married and kept a book store.

It's definitely an interesting but sad story for those who loved the 'Winnie the Pooh' series books and are interested in its history...

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Teaching a new Indigenous Research paper 2018...

Image result for indigenous research This year I am teaching a new Indigenous Research paper with a focus on Maori perspectives. This is going to be very interesting as it has 4 parts to it: Mana tangata (people), Mana reo (language), Mana whenua (land) and Indigenous research. Important components in Indigenous research.

It's a level 4 paper or first year foundation Uni equivalent paper that has been very interesting to teach over the last couple of years. The new focus in this paper recognises the position of tangata whenua (indigenous peoples) of NZ i.e. Maori as the first peoples of this land and the mana that they hold in their bodies of knowledge.

It's also a fees free paper that gives the opportunity for many community peoples to access the information that is not always accessible to them from University communities. In fact, from the last two classes that I've taught, some students have pathwayed into degree courses and further studies including several winning admission places into the Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge at the campus.

One of the things that I've been very grateful for in teaching the paper was that I learnt so much that I wished I had learnt as a first year Uni student so many years ago i.e. about the principles and importance of indigenous research and that indigenous ways of being and knowing as legitimate knowledge.

In remembering my early days as a high school teacher in my early 20s, I would highly recommend this course especially to teachers and educators who are teaching in mainstream schools particularly with Pasifika and Maori students. I wish that I had been armed with a lot of this knowledge as an educator as it would have sharpened my teaching skills ten-fold and would have been great for the students too.

I also think that it's very important that children and youth in our schools with indigenous backgrounds are given this important information to inform their identities and challenge the mainstream bodies of knowledge that think that Western paradigms are the highest forms of education because they are not and that is why we are facing many challenges with environmental issues, societal issues and behavioural issues that can't be cured through the medium of science  and Western education only.

If you are interested in knowing more about what this course offers, please contact me for further information as we go on field trips to various information and resource centres, we visit places of indigenous understandings and Marae. We also look at genealogical research for family trees and building up bodies of knowledge and understandings for indigenous cultures. We also have weekly tutorials with the option of day or evening classes.

And looking forward to this year's graduating class of Indigenous researchers from the classes of 2017, in July of this year, in celebrating work well done...

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Greatest Showman movie - Highly recommended...

Tonight our family went out for a treat to the movies and watched 'The Greatest Showman' starring Hugh Jackman, Zendaya and Zac Efron to name but a few. I must say that I wasn't really expecting much as I had been wanting to watch the next Star Wars franchise sequel.

However, I was pleasantly surprised as it was set in the Victorian era i.e. (Queen Victoria's 1800s) with all the racism, prejudices and bigotry that was rife in that age and it was a movie that at the heart of it was a celebration of humanity with all its differences and variations, yet still showing the ugly side of humanity as we also know it to be.

I won't spoil the storyline except to say that it showcased some neat music, dancing, singing and acting which is what makes for great musical theatre and a captivating movie that took audiences on a journey about fulfilling dreams but not forgetting what it's really for.

I would highly recommend this movie to all and hope that there are more movies like this to come...