Wednesday, 28 February 2018

"This is me" inspiring song sung by Keana Settle...

Have had this song in my head after watching the movie and then learning more about the story behind the making of the movie after watching it. 'The Greatest Showman' had got to be one of the best musicals regarding inclusion and discussing prejudice i.e. racially, physically, psychologically etc. that I have ever viewed and I had never really thought about it in terms of a circus.

I also think the lyrics of the song are very inspiring in allowing for people to accept themselves as they are despite what prejudices, bigotry or 'hating' is out there and when I listen to Keana's story as the main singer behind the song, it's really encouraging to see someone who has been on Broadway and living in New York City for some 25+ years, to be finally be able to come to the fore is inspirational.

If you view her arms, she has some Maori heritage and tatoos, and her voice is absolutely amazing as I know some with Maori heritage to have. I also listened to a couple of her interviews and she has also been nominated for an Oscar for 'Original Song' "This is me." Her voice takes the song to a new level and if you watch the movie, she owns its! which has made this song so inspirational for many around the world. Such a neat phenomenon...

Monday, 26 February 2018

Mt Maunganui on the weekend...

Mt Maunganui in the background and plenty of beach in the foreground
This weekend was out on a road trip to Mt Maunganui and had a neat time with the family. We passed through: Thames, Paeroa (with the big Paeroa bottle by the roadside), Waihi (gold mining history), Katikati, Te Puna and then to Mt Maunganui.

It's been a while since we'd taken our children there and quite a surprise as I can now see why it's become such a hotspot for many tourists with the deep sea harbour that cruise ships dock at. Plenty of roadside beach to take in and full of tourists from all over the world which took me quite surprise and reminded me of Surfers in Australia and Queenstown too. Beachers were packed and with so many youth out on such lovely weather, I can also see why it now beats Auckland as having higher house prices.

Another point of interest was seeing lots of souped up cars driving around the city strip some vintage i.e. 1950s etc neat to see. There was also a big line outside the ice cream shop and fast food shops were full to the brim.

So glad we were out of town for a while to see what's going on just 2 and a half hours out of Auckland...

Friday, 23 February 2018

Moana merchandising ...

This week when I went to my local Warehouse, I came upon these 'Moana' dolls and was quite surprised to see a big display that hadn't been there for quite some time.

In an earlier blog (circa 25 Nov 2016) I wrote about how fortuitous it was for my family to be in Fiji celebrating our 15th Wedding anniversary (as we'd been married at Sonaisali island resort on 24 Nov 2001) and as my birthday was the following day, we got to see movie before it came out in New Zealand.

However, upon our return, I expected to see a lot of merchandising for Moana but to my surprise I only saw the 'Frozen' Disney merchandise still be sold long after the movie's peak. Even when I went to Melbourne looking for some 'Moana' merchandise for our lil' one, there wasn't anything available except for the usual Disney princesses and the Disney movie franchise dolls.

So it's been interesting to observe this with Manukau having the largest numbers of Polynesian peopled city in the world with very little in the way of Pacific dolls being toted for children. Now, however, a couple of years later, I start seeing some in shop windows. Maybe the demand has out-stripped the non/availability and an acceptance of brown dolls being just as beautiful (if not more) ha ha ha...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Ancestry DNA Kit...

I've finally done it and ordered my own 'ancestryDNA' kit online for around NZ$125. It took about a week to ship from USA and came well packaged in a box with: Instructions, activation code, saliva tube, collection bag, response paid book to Ireland.

For some it is quite controversial as to what happens to the saliva samples afterwards i.e. whether destroyed or stored and who 'owns' the samples after the tests have been run.

These are questions that I've had to consider and after attending an 'ancestry' seminar last year with my class, it gave me the confidence to go ahead with some questions that I want answered regarding my own genealogy i.e. in checking what I already know with what might show up in the results.

These are some of the questions, considerations and issues that we discussed last year in the Cert. in Indigenous Research. Something that each person has to consider individually regarding what information they will access and which ones they won't in regards to their own individual cultural principles and values.

Looking forward to seeing what this brings about...

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Siva Samoa classes for the next generations...

One of the benefits of living within a Pasifika community growing up within PIC (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church) was learning the different Samoan cultural dances that include the: sasa (slap dance), ma'ulu'ulu (graceful group dance); Cook Islands drum dance and Niue cultural dances as well as whatever the contemporary European dance of the time was i.e. disco, line dance etc.

This week, I've encouraged ours to attend Samoa Siva classes which are being held at a local community centre by a skilled Samoan dancer.

I think this is a neat opportunity for ours to learn the graceful hands and synchronized dance movements of the Siva Samoa and all the nuances that come with it i.e. smiling while you're dancing, watching your finger movements and being graceful along the way.

The only things that you need to take with you are: a bottle of water and a lavalava (I'd add a good/teachable attitude) that goes a long way to learning the movements that can often be hard to a new comer as well as ensuring that the actions that you are dancing to fit the words that are being sung and the melody and beat of the musika.

All in all, a neat initiative to pass on these ancient forms of dance in a contemporary setting in a foreign land to the next generation...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau (new Indigenous studies) course...

 Only a couple of weeks away from teaching a new course called 'Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau' that loosely translates as 'the gathering of world protocols' i.e. indigenous studies - research. It's a level 4 course and foundational to the Masters in Applied Indigenous knowledge course that is offered on campus.

With only a few spaces left, it's exciting to see my last two year's course transition into this new one which is more in depth and also still retains an understanding between western, Maori and indigenous ways of thinking, understanding and learning etc.

This year is similar to last year's with weekly Tuesday tutorials of either morning or evening sessions and 8 weekend noho which are Friday night to Sunday lunch weekend classes with the option to sleep over at a Marae or the campus noho space with meals provided.

I also included within the weekend noho, field trips to various Research spaces with Indigenous knowledge that are accessible to the public: be it Research centres, library spaces, art galleries, museums spaces, landmarks, geographical spaces etc. guest speakers and viewing indigenous arts whether digital or live.

It's an exciting space for people with indigenous backgrounds or those who are interested as it encourages viewing from various different perspectives in viewing Maori perspectives, western perspectives, ones own perspective and also others within the class.

The 4 main components of our indigenous studies will be viewing: Mana tangata (people power - loosely translated) with an interest in Maori and indigenous leadership; Mana whenua (the power of land/s) and connections; Mana reo (the power of language) particularly with an interest in learning te reo Maori, the Maori language and own indigenous languages; Te Mana Ao Turoa (the power of knowledge) through indigenous knowledge and exploring, understanding, indigenous world views.

It's a fees free course (no fees to be paid) for the whole year i.e. from March to November with a 2 week mid year holiday and I would highly recommend this course for educators and particularly those who are working with children/youth from indigenous backgrounds so that you don't actually have to come from indigenous ancestry but if interested then it does give a good background of understanding in how to work, understand, perceive the various world views that are out there.

If anyone is interested, please contact me with only a few limited spaces available ...

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Oral hygiene, orthodontists and dental care...

 Yesterday I went to take my youngest to the dentist for a checkup and it was a positive experience for her and it reminded me of when most primary schools had dental clinics, when I was growing up, and at primary school you sometimes got all sorts of treats in visiting them.

I remember back in the 70s that some would get little 'bumble bee' wads made by a dental nurse which had a tooth hidden inside as a gift to the child whose tooth had just been taken out. We could choose a colour of jellybean we'd get after the appointment and usually after our appointment, we would get to tell the next 'victim' that it was their turn to go and see the dentist.

I've had a long standing relationship with dentists starting with volunteering after school, when I was a senior in primary school, to clean the dentist's implements and enjoyed the experience very much. I also had to have braces when I was in Intermediate school (recessive genes from my late paternal grandmother I think) and that meant extra appointments with an Orthodontist (specialist dentist) for about 5 years and the results were amazing.

At that time, my braces only cost my family about $300 which was a heck of a lot of money in those days. Nowadays it would have been so much more expensive starting at around $3,000 for a full set of braces and I am so blessed that none of our children will have this expensive, still it is a recessive gene that I've probably passed on to them.

Over the years, I've had lots of sessions with dentists some costing me a couple of hundred dollars and others costing into a thousand. I suspect that some dentists are out to make a huge stash and charge accordingly but it also depends on the amount of work that they do on your teeth and the time that it takes.

I'm overdue for my 6 monthly checkup and I'm very much in favour of free dental care or subsidised dentist treatments for those on government welfare payments and the elderly. At present, it's only free dental care for children and young adults until their 18th birthday and then one is expected to pay full rates but it would be wonderful to see this service in our communities at reduced rates so that teeth can be in a smile for a lifetime...

Friday, 16 February 2018

Pasifika tatau talanoa...

Participants in the tatau talanoa discussion
Yesterday evening, I attended a very interesting discussion hosted by the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel (of which I'm a member) in association with the Mangere Otahuhu and Otara-Papatoetoe local boards inviting Pacific communities to discuss tatau and the Health and Hygiene bylaw review which occurs every 5 years.

Tatau known as tattooing has been a very important part of Samoan culture despite the waning in many Pacific cultures of indigenous tattooing practices due to early missionaries and other western influences saying that it was a 'heathen' practice and 'natives' needed to be refrained from doing so.

Samoans still continued to practice this very special rite of passage, identification marks that were very tapu (taboo) in nature that brings together gafa (genealogy), Samoan spirituality, aiga (family) etc. So that the discussion despite being able the bylaws review was also very pertinent as with the recent rise in interest in the tatau for our younger generations.

Many subjects were discussed and as an indigenous researcher it was interesting to gauge the themes and varying perspectives that were being discussed from the ardent traditionalist to the younger tufuga ta tatau (Samoan indigenous tattoo master) and the younger generation of Samoans who were considering whether to go under the 'tapping' to get their 'markings' of tattoos traditionally or with electrically.

I definitely came out of that discussion wiser, more aware of some of the worldviews and things at stake. Many questions were asked including whether traditional ta tatau (tattooing artists) should/would/could be licensed and subject to inspections, that tatau was essentially tapu and should such an activity be subject to regulation outside what traditional ta tatau are already doing and has been passed down for centuries.

I was definitely an interesting subject for our eldest to listen to in deciding someday to also seek the services of a ta tatau...

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Valentines Day celebration...

Had a neat Valentines day with my beloved, yes, I know it's over-commercialised and something we should be doing everyday (or as often as one can) but it's always a timely reminder of things that we can be thankful for.

Yesterday, when I listened to Radio Rhema the hosts talked about not only celebrating romantic love, but also love within a family i.e. parents and children, owners and their pets and the list goes on.

My beloved decided to take us all out (which we've been doing since the children came along) and we started our celebrations day before with a rose each that he gave us and then yesterday we had dinner at a Filipino restaurant which had an interesting menu which our children weren't too keen on so we ended up picking up some takeaways as a fast food restaurant before going home to a celebration cake, some bubbly (non alcoholic of course :) and some churros the raspberry kind.

All in all, it was a neat evening out on the town, tasting exotic foods and out in the nice night air. I now definitely need to hit the gym with the calorie overload but it was a neat time of celebration, with my parents celebrating in Melbourne. A family affair :)...

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Shrove Tuesday - pancake day...

Image result for shrove tuesdayWas funny to listen on Radio Rhema today about those who celebrate Shrove Tuesday being the day before Lent when some churches observe 40 days fasting (from some type of food or activity) before Easter begins.

Upon reading about the history of Shrove Tuesday, it was a day that foods would be eaten before the fast began and pancakes became the norm (in Europe) to use up the eggs, butter, flour etc. with whatever topping you wanted.

This wasn't the case for me growing up but I see some of my friends observing it especially those who are Anglicans and some Catholics who still keep the observances of their church traditions through the time of Lent and Easter.

My kids still enjoy pancakes for breakfast and very occasionally for a snack after dinner but this takes it definitely to another level...

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Reunion meetings and 'Cro-nuts'...

'Cro-nut' part Croissant / part donut
Ever wondered what a 'cro-nut' was? I'd be driving over in Royal Oak and would see a sign tempting me to go and find out just what it was but because I'm usually on a roll from town to my home, I'd never quite had the time for a stopover to see what is was all about.

That was until yesterday when I went to our Reunion Komiti/Committee meeting at a cafe in Onehunga just down from Royal Oak and after our stimulating conversation and a lot of laughs, I decided to drive down further to make a U turn because traffic was quite busy for me to turn around.

That was when I again saw the sign and thought "I really shouldn't" because I'd just had an early morning workout and I was on my way home and I was also on my 6 weeks work fitness challenged and I hadn't had time for breakfast but because I was feeling in a curious mood and it was raining outside and I did have to make a 'U' turn, I thought I might as well park out and give it a go, for just this once as I probably wouldn't have the chance to do it again.

I asked the bakery owner what exactly was a 'cro-nut' and he said that it was a croissant and doughnut (hybrid) with custard and chocolate drizzled over it and with a sugar coating. I should have known then just from the description but I was still very interested and decided to give it a go as he said that it was very popular with his patrons. Well when I tasted it I realised that it really wasn't such a good idea as it was crispy but soaked in oil and because I'm not a big custard fan, although I could understand the interest in it, I knew it would definitely remain as a 'once in a blue moon' food item.

Not only because of the calories and fat saturation but it would be a killer diabetes kind of food that I definitely wouldn't recommend except to taste it as a one shot. So I drove myself home stimulated by our Komiti conversations but feeling a little sick in the stomach from having 'given it a go'. I guess even at my age you still learn from your mistakes...

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Indigenous Research - looking back to now looking forward...

Image result for indigenous researchThese last couple of days, I've been in a H.A.K. Hui a Kaupapa (Maori phrase equivalent to professional development) in which we've delved deep into some interesting issues, concerns and also pathways for indigenous research not only for students but also in term of thinking for kaiako/educators.

I always feel blessed and privileged to be in this framework of thinking as it has totally challenged the things that I learnt through my undergraduate years at Auckland University with my two Masters degrees and still with A.U.T. (Auckland University of Technology) and feel that I have been placed at the cutting edge of educational transformation in understanding education from indigenous viewpoints.

So much so, that the new course that I will be facilitating/teaching will be along the lines of looking back to what is happening now to what might/should happen for future generations. Interesting conversations and considerations are also being discussed with the role that technology plays in the mix as more people see the benefits or hindrances of allowing technology to be a part of tikanga/protocol practices.

Really looking forward to how this course pans out and what new learnings will be had along the way with my Semester A full year class. Roll on the academic year starting in March...

Thursday, 8 February 2018

5+ things to do in Mangere...

No automatic alt text available. Found this promo and thought to write a short piece about these 5 general places to visit whilst in Mangere i.e. where the International airport is situated as the gateway to the world!

1. Ambury Farm/Park: This was actual Maori land, once upon a time, and there are lava caves in some parts of the park that have been fenced over where sheep continue to graze. I go with my family during the Spring/Summer months where there is lambing and a nice place to take the family to visit the open farm that has pigs, cows, sheep, a drysdale horse, chickens, goats, turkey etc. I've also had a couple of early birthday parties here which was fun. There is a ranger who lives on site and a place for camping.

2. Butterfly Creek: This is a later addition and has developed over the years with a crocodile attraction, butterflies and other critters in the same vain as a theme park with a sovereign type shop for tourists. I think it also has a train ride and farm area to take pics with the family. It also has a nice cafe area which can be hired out for corporate, weddings and birthday events.

3. Mangere Mountain: still proves to a hit with walkers and those training or nature lovers. I still no people who have never ventured out to climb this accessible mauga (mountain) which has quite an interesting history to it as it was once a Maori pa site that was raided by another using cloaks on a shell ridden path to quieten their hostile take over. It's now an Auckland council and manawhenua (original people of the local land) partnership.

4. Strawberry Farm: located some 5 mins from the Airport and proves very popular with its Strawberry ice creams that Aucklanders drive for miles to consume as well as the pancakes, blueberry ice cream in season and fruit smoothies. It also has a small vege store and the strawberries are sold throughout the Spring and Summer seasons.

5. Cafe Culture: Mangere isn't really known for it's cafe culture although the Mangere Bridge area shops have become a hub in recent years with chairs and tables outside the shops for breakfast, lunch and dinner especially during the Spring and summer months. There's also a new healthy alternative pop up cafe/coffee shop at Mangere East and this is neat for those wanting to refuel without going far into the city for a coffee/cafe fix.

There are many other local places missing that didn't make it to this 'top 5' type brochure like the Ihumatao Stonefields, the Airport look out, the Airport shopping area, the new ropes and climbing frames area near Butterfly creek, the waka ama or outrigging clubs, the Driving range and Paint ball etc. but those 5 were only to name a few...

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Samoa's favourite Taro chips...

This packet of chips shown happens to be my family's favourite taro chips imported from Samoa. They are marketed as "Samoa's favourite Chips - Flavoured Samoan Taro" as there are many different types that you can buy in Samoa.

So whenever my parents come home, this is what they bring for our children and their grandchildren. I'm still not sure what the 'flavour' is as it tastes like chicken salt but when I go to have a look at the contents, there isn't a mention of what it is (so I hope that it's all legit:).

Anyway, I won't be eating anymore of these for a while, not only because they are eaten so quickly when they arrive but I've also taken on a 6 work healthy lifestyle challenge this week at work with a weigh in, calculating the BMI (body mass index) and goals for the next few weeks.

It was even neat to see so many of my work colleagues joining in and I'm hoping to bag me one if not a couple of prizes if I continue on the journey that I've been on since 15 Jan. It does mean sacrificing my sleep time somewhat and trying to work in my gym workouts around my children's school morning schedules.

Which will definitely start looking tight when my teaching classes start in March of Semester A academic year i.e. up at 6 am, into the gym around 6.15 am, out for a shower around 7 am, transport the high schoolers to the bus at 7.30 am, get the primary schooler ready for drop off at 8.30 am and then into the office by 9 am with classes starting at 10 am or working till 2.30 and then picking them all up etc. with studies and other important things in between.

So goodbye to the 'Samoan taro chips' for now until we meet again in a few weeks and a few kgs lighter...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Waitangi day work...

Waitangi Day 2018This Waitangi day am taking it easy and spending some time catching up on unfinished work and some projects that I'm currently working on hence the 'Google' image above in that I'll be spending some time on the laptop.

Waitangi day has had a checkered past and I remember not knowing very much at one time until I took the 'Mauri Ora' course at Te Wananga o Aotearoa which opened my eyes into the injustices that Maori people have had to overcome since signing the treaty at Waitangi.

I've been to Waitangi several times with family and work over the past years and if one hasn't been schooled in understanding the two treaties that were signed at the time i.e. one being in English and the other translated into Maori with worldviews that didn't match as there were a lot of differences in the two understandings.

Suffice to say that sovereignty and partnership is still being debated today but that once the Treaty was signed it opened up the door to full scale immigration of British subjects to Aotearoa, New Zealand where in 1840 when the treaty was signed Maori were probably 98% of the population owning the same amount of land to today where they are only around 10% of the population and owning around 25% of the land.

In Australia last week whilst we were celebrating our Auckland Anniversary, some indigenous Australians (named Aborigines by the colonials) expressed their distrust and disdain for successive governments and government departments that still continue to marginalise them, so much so, that they protested and called their anniversary day "Invasion Day".

This would have been a timely reminder to many non-indigenous Australians that the indigenous people of Australia want to voice their views on historical and current issues. Similarly, Maori voices are often heard during Waitangi day to air protests in areas that they are still attempting to redress.

So this Waitangi day, it's important to take stock to not only celebrated the partnership between Maori and the crown but also to be wary of the things that marginalise Maori from what they were entitled to upon signing the treaty...

Monday, 5 February 2018

Bilingual books promo at Sei Oriana store...

Bilingual books promo at Sei Oriana SSAB store
Yesterday, I drove past my local SSAB (Samoan Stationery and Books) store and saw that some of my books were on display on the Samoan Bilingual books stand and thought to take a pic of them for my records.

Was also approached by the American Samoan SSAB store manager to trial our books in their market and those have been sent away and hoping for the best as well, as their stories may be a little different too.

The neat thing is that now there is more of an acceptance and an understanding of the benefits of people being bilingual and even multi-lingual in being able to communicate in more than one language i.e. being monolingual definitely has it's draw backs.

And as I continue to my journey into learning also more about te reo Maori I can reflect on my Samoan language and English language understandings and there is definitely a different mind shift in all three languages medium not to mention sign language which I was able to trial here at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

It was also neat to see a poster on Facebook, the other day, which said something along the lines of "those with broken English can speak another language" and I reflect on how, not so long ago, people would be teased for having broken English when racist and supremacist attitudes prevailed in societies but now there is an understanding that English is but one of many colonial languages that can sit alongside indigenous languages in having worldviews that differ but also reflect similarities as well.

So am very humbled to be in a privileged position to be able to share in thoughts and ideas outside of mainstream English/Western views and to add to the knowledge of indigenous cultures that if not shared for this generation may be lost for all time...

Friday, 2 February 2018

A powhiri into a new educational journey...

Yesterday I went to the powhiri (Maori welcoming ceremony) of our child entering high school with hundreds of other Year 9 students.

It was quite funny in that as I watched her anticipation, it reminded me of when I was teaching in high school and all of the organising that we did to ensure that the Year 9 were ready for their first day into high school.

The powhiri ceremony went really well starting with the assembling of new staff and students outside the hall, then being called into the hall by staff, board members and Year 13 senior school. They were then ushered onto the right side of the hall and the speeches began with the Principle and a waiata (song sung of support for his speech) then this was followed by a reply of thanks for the manuhiri (visitors) in fact a pakeha who spoke in te reo (the Maori language) which was neat and appropriate and a Maori short waiata sung by the new students and parents etc. A hongi (pressing of noses) or hand shakes/hugs completed the formal proceedings and announcements were made for the next phase.

Afterwards, the new students were ushered into their new house teams: 5 of them with their house colours and flags and biscuits were given out to the new students which is the final process of the powhiri which is to whakanoa (neutralise) the tapu nature of this esoterical ancient ritual.

Where upon parents were dismissed and able to go about their usual day knowing that they children were in good hands with timetables to be given out and introductions to teachers and other class mates on their first day and their lives will never be the same...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Seeing but not seeing last night's moon phenomenon...

 Last night I didn't have much luck in trying to view the 3 stages of the very rare super blue blood moon eclipse in which one was supposed to view:

1. the blue moon
2. the supermoon
3. total lunar eclipse.

It was reported that the last time this happened was in 1982 with the next not expected to happen until 2037 although I've seen information saying that it only happens once every 150 years.

So I got up at just before 2 am having gone to bed earlier to be able to get up to view this auspicious event/s and went outside and saw the moon with a yellow haze but because of the dense cloud cover, I wasn't able to get a good picture as by the time I'd click the camera outside an upstairs bedroom window, the clouds would cover it again.

So suffice to say that I gave it a go and waited until after 3 am to see if there was anything else that I might see but with the clouds it wasn't what I had anticipated. Although having seen pictures published on the internet, in other parts of the world, they got a better look at what happened.

It makes me think that there is some divine design that somehow such events are naturally occuring and that there is a pattern to their appearances that can be somehow forecast, in which the 'big bang theory' doesn't add up to and other matter from chaos theories. There's got to be an intelligence behind all this :) Just saying...