Saturday, 28 April 2018

Life church conference - Ronji Tanielu...

Ronji Tanielu
 It has been a real blessing and privilege to attend this year's Life Conference at the Vodaphone Events centre. Over the years I've been busy and have only attended the evening sessions which was always a blessing but with the foresight of my beloved, our whole family was able to attend the 3 day conference which really fired us up but also a lot to reflect on and consider as in a course of individual action.

One of the Master classes that we attended was a 'Community' Master class which I hadn't considered attending having worked within 'the community' over the years but this particular year, my beloved had attended, quite by accident too in missing the bus to attend the 'Business' Master classes, so on his encouragement we both attended.

At that Master class, I heard Ronji Tanielu's testimony of visiting 33 countries within 2 years to support and encourage the persecuted church. He visited with his wife (and I assume no children) and are back from their mission to save up in order to go again.

His particular discussion was about the 'State of the Nation' report that the Salvation Army researches and puts out every year for interested parties to read. As a past geographer, he strolled through graphs and figures and expressed the important areas that NZ had to consider for the future regarding: the housing crisis, the increasing incarceration rates, child poverty and much, much more.

It was a blessing to listen to him and I remember his family as they first immigrated to NZ, Mangere in the 1980s and attended my birth church and then most of his family have now immigrated to Australia but to see this young man grow and now have an influence, both as a lawyer and policy analyst for the Salvation Army is neat to see.

He also has a heart for the persecuted church around the world and as you can see by the article, there is much to do with Christians all over the world still being physically tortured for their faith. 'Voice of the martyrs' is one such organisation that is supporting those who are persecuted Christians in overseas. For further information visit:

It was quite a challenge to hear about so many things that are happening in our New Zealand society and also about the upcoming abortion law reform discussions that are currently being considered and you only have to read the research on Bob McCoskcrie's Family First website on to know that Christians need to have their say on the sanctity of life whether you are 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice'.

So much food for thought, the way that it's supposed to be. Thank you Pastor Paul and Paster Marie for this insight into the state of our nationhood...

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

ANZAC Day - Commemorating connections with Samoa...

What many Samoans may not know was that in 1914, New Zealand military head's were told by England's military to take over Samoa from the German powers who'd been there since the late 1800s. This was to be the first act of war for New Zealand away from it's soil (please view 'Tagata Pasifika's' YouTube clip above)

What is sad about that act was that 4 years later, a New Zealand administrator, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Logan (name and shame - post humous) allowed the New Zealand ship with sick people aboard with the deadly influenza virus to disembark in Samoa to which an estimated 8,000+ people died within a couple of months, that's over a fifth of the population.

The following year my late paternal grandma was born but my maternal great grandfather died and was buried in an unmarked grave in Faleula, which I assume was to have the body buried in his home village rather than in a mass grave near Apia.

This ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corp) day for me is not only in remembrance of the many who gave their lives for freedom of our nation but it is also a commemoration of 100 years since that fateful day in which Samoa's history was completely changed forever...

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Latest Peter Rabbit movie...

Last week, got the chance to take out my children and accompanied by my sister to watch the latest Peter Rabbit movie. I'd seen the shorts and as our lil' one wanted to watch it, the older ones weren't too keen to visit.

We were pleasantly surprised in watching the movie and laughing at a whole of Peter Rabbit antics that kept getting him in trouble. I remember that a friend gave me a whole set of Peter Rabbit books and I enjoyed reading them in their small state i.e. like tiny books that a child could read with the neat little pictures written and drawn by Beatrix Potter, in fact, her life's story in also a fascinating movie.

So I'd highly recommend them for a family outing especially if you have small children as there are a lot of scenes that are funny but also for children to consider if some of Peter Rabbit's antics weren't as good in his intentions.

Sam Neil (NZ actor) also plays a small part in the movie right at the beginning before his character goes off into the 'great blue yonder' and his nephew takes over the cottaage but all in all a family friendly movie with lots of laughs along the way...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Research? Rangahau? Tofa sa'ili?...

Image result for research When I left Auckland University in the late 1990s, having been a graduate of the Arts Facility in two of many departments i.e. Geography, English, Anthropology, History and Art History (and the gym - ha ha), I learnt a lot about research and wanted to become a researcher, however, that all changed when I started my career in education in the "real world" and found out that indigenous peoples in various communities hated "researchers".

Those experiences totally changed my views on research and I vowed not to become a researcher but to do other things that would support our communities. You see, I thought that research was supposed to help communities but then to find out "in the field" that in most cases, research and researchers were quite harmful, it made me re-think what I wanted to do in the field of research.

A couple of years ago I was asked to take on the position of teaching the indigenous research course and I grabbed it with both arms and enjoyed teaching it for two years until it was revamped into the new course that I am currently teaching.

What I learnt from that year long course was some very important principles when engaging in the field of research. In fact, in the current indigenous (academic) tertiary circles that I walk in the preference is to use terms such as "Rangahau" which is to weave one's journey or to gather information from the four winds with related obligations, connections, reciprocity and world views of the indigenous peoples.

I'm currently considering to write some of my thoughts ready for a presentation at a symposium towards the end of the year at our Wananga I'm looking at what some of the marked differences are between research as opposed to rangahau and tofa sa'ili, the latter being a Samoan concept for deeper information gathering. One of the common themes being to write about things that enhance the indigenous communities' worldviews rather than deficit perspectives.

Looking forward to engaging with 'research' in a new way that enhances the understandings of indigenous perspectives...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

PopUP South near Maritime Museum...

This week, I'll be taking some lunchtimes, this week, to go out and read at the PopUP South Collectives market space which is located just down from the Maritime Museum and Wero Bridge in Downtown Auckland.

It's a neat space with a couple of open containers filled with local authentic Pasifika arts and crafts from South Auckland artists, artisans and crafters etc.

It is an initiative that started a couple of years ago and encourages South Auckland locals to display their talents whilst developing an economic base sell their wares with monies flowing back to the community via this PopUp shop.

This is the second year that I've supported this initiative as I think it's a great way to showcase the various talented crafters and artists out there. There's tivaevae (Cook Islands quilting), Pareu (Cook Islands printed lavalava) etc. there's also lovely Cook Islands dishes with their food caravan, my books, and much, much more.

So if you happen to out and about these holidays, why don't you 'pop in' to the PopUp shop and meet with the lovely Mia who is currently the organiser and coordinator for the shop. She also has a passion for business and a staunch advocate for community based businesses being sustainable over time.

A neat space to be in...

Monday, 16 April 2018

DNA Ancestry profile...

Since teaching Indigenous Research starting in 2015, it somehow coincided with the start of my writing/author pathway and reigniting an interest that I've always had of wanting to know my genealogy.

I remember returning to Samoa in 1985 and being so interested in wanting to know my gafa (genealogy) that I started asking questions, especially of my parents, regarding our familial relations.

At that time, I became aware of a 'loa' (hollow grave enclosure) that was painted white and was on the mother's families' communal property in Faleula next to the house. That was where I found out that my Great, great, grandparents (I assumed from Germany) bones had been housed but over the generations, it had fell to ruin and no one had looked after it.

There were many stories that my mother told of my part German grandmother, whom is my namesake Eleni and so with the family reunion coming up, I wanted to know more and to confirm the bloodlines of both my paternal and maternal lines.

Hence it took me a while to come to the idea of having a DNA saliva test as there are tapu (forbidden) in some families, cultures around the body. However, my 'need to know' greatly outweighed the other considerations and last year I sent for the DNA kit and almost 6 months later I have the results.

To describe it as an amazing tool is to say the least. It definitely confirmed that I am Samoan (82% Polynesian) as often people don't believe that I am because of my lighter complexion than the average Samoan but then it is explained by both my maternal and paternal bloodlines.

The 7% Asia South DNA is due to my Great, great Grandfather, whom we believe left China possibly from Shanghai and somehow made his way to Samoa in the early 1800s where he married a Samoa lady and I am the fifth generation from their union. I did meet one of his children whom was my grandmother's uncle in the 1980s and he was still driving in his 80s in Samoa then.

The 7% Scandinavian ancestry was a real surprise because I had been told that my great, great, grandfather had come from Germany. However, upon more research, I learnt that he lived on an island off the coast of Germany on the North Sea and the territory had first been under Danish rule, then British and then in the late 1700s and early 1800s the Germans took over which made sense that although my ancestor was probably seen as a German national, he was Scandinavian of origin. He also married a Samoan lady in Falealupo and tah dah - here I am.

Wow! I have been able to share this with my family and so for them they are aware of their origins in living in NZ of their DNA ancestry and from the various 'corners' of the world or as in the Maori worldview from the four different winds.

I am so blessed to have been gifted this opportunity to learn this information using modern technology to answer some of the questions that I wasn't quite sure about and that there were no oral records or few written records. I only wished that there were photos but then sometimes things were meant to be and are instead carried through DNA and features of the generations to come...

Friday, 13 April 2018

Thank you 'Mama' new song by Stan Walker...

Loving this new song by Stan Walker as a beautiful tribute to his mum who has been a big support to him throughout his life and especially at the time that he has been going through his personal ordeal with almost loosing his life through a genetic condition that has had his stomach removed as viewed through a recent doco on what he's been through.

It's also a testament to his faith in being able to overcome such a massive ordeal and still come out singing. As I understand it, some members of his family have died from this condition and I have also recently found out that my family also has a genetic condition that could be passed down genetically down so that my children could also have it.

It's quite an eye opener in knowing that somehow through our ancestry our DNA has been passed down through ages and we have content that makes us who we are and also will continue to be passed to our next generations which is why suicide is such a devastating situation as not only for the family but for future generations as a legacy stops continuing.

I'm glad that Stan sang this song which reminds us all of the important role that our mum's play in our lives and I'd say that in the same vein my mum is the woman that I must esteem, respect and love as a woman of character and creativity who helped to shape me to who I am today and some of that's also been passed on to my children.

I like Stan's music video that shares his Maori cultural heritage is set at his home Marae (I assume) and it shows the urupa (graves) of a family relative and also the moko (chin tatoo) that his mother received as a sign of continuing their Maori cultural heritage. Her prayers for him are also mentioned in his song and I am grateful that over the years our grandmothers, grandparents and parents have done the same for my family and for ages to come

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Freelance magazine feature article...

Thanks to Freelance Magazine for the feature
Last week I received a copy of the latest 'Freelance' quarterly magazine which is a magazine designed to help writers in their writing. At one of the Book festivals that I'd attended, last year, I had met with one of the editors and she asked if I would be interested in sharing my writing journey to feature in their magazine.

I submitted my writing and they were happy to go ahead and add it as a feature article in their 'A Writers Journey' section. It's titled 'Helen Tau'au Filisi's Labours of Love' and it shares about my journey as a writer and the different paths I've taken in my writing.

Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of humble beginnings and about having a dream that you never give up on. I've also since learnt that sometimes things happen for a reason, that it's meant to be and that often the timing is never too late but just right on time i.e. some of the life lessons that I've learnt about over the years.

I'm still humbled when I reflect on the different paths that I've been privileged to walk upon in life and that there is always a reason for the season that we never quite comprehend about at the time but in hindsight, most of it makes sense - I guess it's part of believing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself and for me it's about living a life in faith in that things just don't happen but that there is a plan and a purpose for my life.

I hope it's a story that can inspire many other 'would be' writers to start picking up their pens, typewriters, laptops, digital devices etc. to start writing those stories that matter and that can shed light on matters that still need to be talked about. I still have some short stories that I'm currently working on and I'm thankful that there are ears to hear...

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Samoa wins gold at Commonwealth games...

If you've been following the current Commonwealth games held in Brisbane, Australia i.e. 4 - 15 April you'll know that Samoa is winning gold in Weightlifting not only for males but also for females and a teenager at that.

Am so proud of our tiny nation making their mark on the world as our ancestry has some hidden clues in our DNA about endurance, passion and power that has somehow been diluted through colonisation in ideas, food, culture and etc.

But so good to see Samoa reclaiming it's strengths not only literally but how inspiring it is for all Samoan's to see that with a lot of staying power and great coaches that you can literally become powerful through enduring to the end.

All of the weightlifters have been quite an inspiration in this sport in knowing that a lot of background work has been happening in gyms, through the years to get to them to this point where all that training, discipline and hard work has paid off in a few seconds of weight lifting on a world stage.

Malo le tauivi, malo le onosa'i. Ua maua le tini mo le taumafai. Well done on the efforts, well done on your patience. You have been rewarded for trying. Although in the eyes of the world we are seen as a tiny nation - we are definitely big at heart!...

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Teaching and learning through Wananga and noho stylez...

Early hour morning stroll in the Wananga
My noho classes have started again for the year and I have 8 weekend sleep overs throughout the year that begins with dinner on Friday nights and ends on Sunday after lunch.

This is an interesting way of delivering teaching / learning in the classroom whereby tauira (students) and kaiako (teacher/tutor) share a meal together, go on fieldtrips together and get to know one another real well especially when sleeping Marae style on campus in the noho space or at different Marae around Auckland.

It is a marked difference between conventional classroom settings whereby a student will come to class in the morning and leave in the afternoon, when having noho, there are uninterrupted times of teaching/learning which can be quite fluid and as I am now in my third year of this style of teaching, I must say that I have learnt a lot and it is quite a unique way of delivering and encouraging learning.

As I understand it, Wananga (deep discussions of teaching and learning) for many Maori iwi (tribes) in the past often started at night and continued to the early hours of the morning which was seen as an auspicious time of talking/teaching and learning. At these times, whanau (extended family) would come together and share a meal, sleep under the same roof in a Marae and share chores, singing, talking together. Somethings that are shared in our noho classes.

I've even picked up the guitar again after many years of neglect, since my husband plays beautifully and even our children but in teaching this new course, singing waita (Maori songs) is one of many important learning tools as is getting up early at 4 am to start my day in preparation and considering tasks during the noho. Never a dull moment...

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

'Black Panther' an exciting movie...

Last night I watched the movie the 'Black Panther' movie with my family, after much hype, and wasn't really sure what to expect (although not expecting a lot) but I was pleasantly surprised and found that it was an exciting movie that broke stereotypes of many European movies in casting black people, and especially women, not only as heroes but also as strong, innovative people of wonder.

It was also interesting in that there were only two 'white' men who had prominent roles in the movie i.e. one who was the antagonist and another who tried to help the cause and interesting enough there were no 'white' women characters in the movie which would have to be a first!

I think that what particularly struck me, apart from the characterisation of 'black' people and the incredible costumes that they has as well as the interesting script was the ways in which black women were portrayed i.e. as a queen, an innovative inventor, a spy agent and especially the general and kings special guard - all strong black women.

This movie really challenges the stereotypes of black women in often being cast with roles as subjugated to black men, half dressed in rap videos or often as second class citizens in relationship to white women/men in movies where they only have supporting roles.

 I hope this movie inspires many more future movies to continue to challenge those stereotypes in which black future generations and people of colour can see themselves in strong roles as innovators, as creative peoples etc. who have so much potential to be realised and then can make things happen within their societies and for the future...

Monday, 2 April 2018

Joshua vs Parker: Done but not dusted...

Image result for parker vs joshuaIt was interesting to watch the Joseph Parker (Samoa/NZ) vs Anthony Joshua (Eng) yesterday in front of a 78,000 - 80,000 capacity crowd in Cardiff, Wales and televised all over the world.

Although Parker didn't win the fight, he still made a lot of Samoans, New Zealanders and South Aucklanders around the world very proud. At the beginning of his entrance the crowd heard the sounds of the Maori haka then he walked in with two chiefly matai leading his entourage holding flags and showing their traditional tatoos (commonly known as pe'a).

He also had two anthems sung before the fight of: the Samoan anthem and the New Zealand anthem including both the Maori and English version as opposed to Joshua's anthem of "God Save the Queen".

There was also a big contingent of New Zealanders and Samoans in the crowd in seeing Parkers mother in the crowd and also at the end of the bout how Joshua met briefly, by the ring, with Parkers mother.

Although I'm not a huge fan of boxing i.e. two people trying to punch each other's lights out for a big chunk of money, it's also interesting how boxing has often been a platform for boxers to share their message i.e Mohammed Ali in the 1970s with his anti-war stance and in fighting outside of American soil i.e. in Africa for his 'rumble in the jungle.'

As in seeing Sugar Ray Leonard, another infamous boxer who watched the fight, saying that Joshua was good for the sport of boxing and then witnessing Joshua talk about how if their bout brought together a lot of people from different walks of life and nationalities in the stadium then it shouldn't stop there but to take that statement of unity back with them.

So although Parker lost his 0 losses up until that bout, he did say that he would go back to the drawing board and then come back for another title fight. Done but not dusted...