Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Acknowledging Fatu Feu'u eminent Samoan artist...

A drawing by Fatu Feu'u in Otahuhu library
 On this week of Samoan language week, I'd also like to feature a Samoan artist who's art I very much like and have been influenced by in some of my work i.e. that of Fatu Feu'u. I've seen his art feature in many Auckland Council collections and at Auckland University as well.

I like how his art tells a Samoan story with Samoan cultural designs and colours in his artwork which is interpretive. I think I've only seen Fatu Feu'u on one occasion but can't remember where the exact location was but I remember thinking that he was one of the forerunners as a pioneering Samoan artist who art was accepted by the establishment in being featured in art galleries and spaces around NZ and also overseas.

This particular drawing is featured at Otahuhu library which I saw last week when running workshops there. This particular piece is neat in that it seems to incorporate Samoan tatooing designs and even an interpretive picture of what looks like an eel.

And just back from sharing with a local school about some of the Samoan story books that I've written in English and then has been translated in Samoan by my husband, Tofilau Fritz, and tomorrow also sharing with another school about being a SamoaNZ author writing about Samoan stories that are important to me and for the next generations...

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Celebrating Samoan Language week 2018...

Image result for samoan language week 2018 resources Malo lava le soifua. Today we celebrate Samoan language week for 2018 and it's neat to see all the different activities that are a part of the celebrations not only in schools but also throughout the various communities.

In fact, even at the Wananga, many knowing that I am Samoan acknowledged the celebration with a Samoan greeting and one Maori whaea (respectful name for elder woman) sang a Samoan bilingual song which was really neat too.

I'm also looking forward to seeing my parents this evening as my children are in seeing their grandparents returning from the motherland and to celebrate birthdays as my parents and husband's birthdays are days apart within a span of a week.

I think in learning three languages of Samoan (my first language), English (my educational language) and Maori (tangata whenua o Aotearoa language) it has been interesting to note that there are ideas in each language which don't really translate so well into the to other languages because of attitudes, ideas that are very genuinely unique and specific to a particular culture.

That is what I have learnt in learning to speak three different languages with very different attitudes and perspectives in each language and also as a student and learner in each as culture and language are very powerful vehicles of identity and one without the other makes life very difficult especially for this next generation who might have the gafa, whakapapa or genealogy but are unable to speak the language for the next generation with its implications... Ia manuia...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Happy Birthday to a special Papa...

Just a big Happy Birthday to my Papa with a blessing of another special year to his 80 years. We called him in Samoa yesterday and wished him a special day and look forward to seeing him and my mom tomorrow when they visit NZ again.

Now that we live apart for most of the year, as Samoa has a better climate, more natural foods and so much more to keep them busy with, we are blessed to have our children learn from their Grandparents as much as I learned from mine.

I remember only realising last year, that my children were blessed in knowing their late great grandmother, when we all called her granma because that was how I was brought up knowing her.

There are so many things that I have learnt from my father over the years, or being good at organising and 'rounding up the troups' to get things done i.e. he was pivotal in establishing the Mangere Samoan PIC (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church), in establishing a church building in village of Si'ufaga, Falelatai and very influential in our aiga in being a man of integrity and decision making.

I think he learnt a lot from two highly respected Matai (chiefly) men who were quite influential in modelling and shaping his understanding of leadership growing up in Samoa i.e. that of his late father Tau'au, Uili who died in the 1940s when my father was still young and his uncle the late Faalavaau Galu, who was a member of the first government of Samoa when it became independent in 1962.

My father and I have had long talks about Samoa and some of the memories that he has had. Some of which have been turned into poems that I've published in my first collection regarding a blue and white Mark 2 Zephyr he used to drive and also the special relationship that he had with his adopted mother.

There are still more poems to come and I hope to pen them soon in our next collection of poetry with my father's biography that I am currently working on to share some of the wisdom gems that I have learnt along the way from his life's journey. A real blessing for me from a wonderful God above...

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Ball/Prom season again...

Image It's ball season and the first in my family now that they're growing teens. Growing up and loving dancing was a no brainer in going to the school ball, discos and dances with my sisters (with strict parents) and when I started teaching in high school, for a couple of years, I was the support teacher for the ball committee and absolutely loved it i.e. re-living my love of music, dance and fun times.

So this was my choice for the ball dress (or one that I probably would have liked to wear - ha ha) but bought another one for our chosen one. It's so different than when I was growing up with the guy now making a special ball announcement or request to the girl (vice versa etc.) and then having to consider the transport, a before or after party which isn't part of the bargain for my liking.

Not to mention, accessories, shoes (either high for effect) or low if you want to dance, make-up, hair and bringing it all together nicely on the date. I've seen how it can become ugly when alcohol or drugs get into the mix and that's why it's important for adults to still be around in the background to ensure that some teens don't get too carried away.

It's happening in a couple/few weeks and with a ball ticket now being around $125, I really want to make sure that it's a neat evening for their friends group. Even if it means for me to be checking out on the evening (from a distance) ha ha...

Friday, 25 May 2018

Writing workshops at Otahuhu library...

Image result for otahuhu library This week I took some time out of my busy schedule and delivered some writing workshops for some local schools at Otahuhu library. It's a beautiful complex opened only a few years ago with a gym, swimming pool and cafe, physio, CAB (Citizen's Advice Bureau) all enclosed within the complex.

I was able to share a few ideas about writing but also about the new book called 'Sense of belonging' that we hope to have some youth voices as well as adult writers about their sense of belonging within their communities.

This was the title of my first PhD proposal at Auckland Uni back over 30 years ago when I first started but then didn't finish it as it didn't feel right plus getting married was a big event that helped to ensure that there were more pressing matters to attend to.

Now if 'feels right' in asking people from the community to writer about their 'sense of belonging' and if feels as if it has come into fruition. We're hoping for poetry and short story submissions to be sent in by 30 June and then to begin the book process through to 25 August proposed book launch.

Looking forward to this as yet another step forward to bringing local voices to a literary platform/space that allows them to speak. So much to do and so little time but never a dull moment in the scheme of things...

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Frangipani whispers book launch...

It was such a blessing yesterday, to be surrounded by friends and family for our 13th book launch at Otahuhu library since I first started this writing and publishing journey in 2015.

It was a special occasion because one of the pioneers in education at the time for me, was Samoan teacher Afamasaga Agnes Rasmussen, as I knew her then and was teaching at Nga Tapuwae College, where I was a high school student and then when I became a first year teacher, she was the DP Deputy Principal at the time. I later met her in Samoa when she was a Principle of Chanel College and we later met in Auckland when she returned from Samoa and is now in our 'Mana Mangere writers collective'.

Having Afamasaga there was so neat as it reminded me of a time that I had many hopes and dreams and many of those have come true for me.

It was also very special to have some of my tauira (students) from my current Indigenous Research class come to support by coming to their first ever book launch as often these functions aren't open to the communities.

I was also able to read a couple of stories and poems and I also shared about some of the things that I remembered growing up in Mangere and some of those materials I have written into some of my short stories.

We now have plans for another book to be launched in Samoa in July and also our 'tala o le vavau' series of ancient Samoan stories to have another addition to the collection which is very popular with young and old.

Looking forward to more painting and burning the midnight oil for these plans to come into fruition...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Books out and about...

It was neat to go to my children's school's Pasifika parents meeting and to see our books displayed out for parents and students to view. It was my youngest who spotted it and it was a neat surprise to see.

So far we have been blessed to be able to sell our books through word of mouth, online through various booksellers with varying prices ranging from our minimum prices to quite a bit of money that far exceeds our minimum prices. Check out:

  • Academy book company
  • Wheelers
  • University Bookshop
  • Helen Parsons (although no longer in service?
With the interest in our books we are also blessed to consider expanding outside of NZ and will be travelling in July to view the various outlets overseas who might be interested in stocking out books. It's such a blessing as we have so many different genre that we are considering.

And never a dull moment...

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Weekend learning at Makaurau Marae...

Makaurau Marae, near Auckland Airport
This weekend I went to noho Marae (weekend stay over) at Makaurau Marae which is situated very close to the Auckland Airport, a 5 minute drive and close to the coast. It started on Friday night with a powhiri (welcoming ceremony) and then we settled into our learning for the evening and into Sunday morning (but I left Saturday night due to Mothers' Day the next day).

It was also interesting to learn about the history of the Marae and how it had been built by some who have passed on but have left a legacy for many others to enjoy. The tikanga (cultural practices) of the Marae include no photos or pictures to be taken in the Marae and only outside of it.

However, inside the Marae, there were some beautiful carvings and tukutuku patterns (Maori designed panels) which tell a story of the Marae. It was also a place that some remember loved ones having their tangi (time of mourning of a family service/funeral) and being there for a learning experience was able to bring some good memories to a once was sad memory of the Marae.

I enjoy my times of learning in Marae as there is definitely a different feeling from being in a classroom. We had a lot of laughs but also a lot of times for deeper considerations of the cultural practices that we want to leave as a legacy for our younger family members.

So although many of our class mates were Maori, I was the only Samoan but we did have Cook Islands represented, Chile and Pakeha (European) where we were able to share our thoughts, our experiences and practices and insights from the various backgrounds that we come from.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Mother's day celebrations and movie...

Yesterday, I had a neat mother's day starting with a quick 45 min workout at our work gym and then coming home to my lovely children and husband with their plans but I preferred to miss breakfast and then off to church for a neat mother's day service, although got there a bit late but did get a sweet chocolate.

Then off to lunch at our favourite restaurant with extras to take home. Spent some time with my sister and then off to watch the 'Avengers' movie in the evening for a bit of relaxation. I took my children to watch with me and we had a neat time together although there were more questions at the end of the movie than at the beginning.

My sister also reminded me that after the credits there was also a brief trailer that gives a hint of the next movie in the process. So it was a neat time to spend together with family and to be a little bit spoilt but also neat to know of mother's being especially appreciated for one day a year (like Christmas :)

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Happy Mother's Day to the mum's ...

Just wanted to wish my mother a happy mother's day in our motherland Samoa. Yesterday, I was on my weekend noho (sleep over) and heard Marion (one of my class mates) sing this song with her small band of two players i.e. Jo, the percussionist (has played with Ardijah) and Samoan guitarist (oops forgot his name) for Adeaze - both talented musicians with Marion's beautiful voice.

Well as soon as they played the song, I had to get out my phone and started recorded (without asking :) ha ha. Anyway, as I listened to the lyrics, I tried to blink away the tears as I started thinking about my mum. We had just had a conversation a couple of hours earlier on the phone, she is in Samoa and me in NZ.

My mother has been the greatest influencer in my life as a creative, great at housekeeping, budgeting, supporting my dad, a great cook and baker and seamstress in her day, a real talented lady that God blessed me to have as my mother and I try to emulate but not even close!

I really want to thank my mum for being a blessing in my life, she is my best friend and I can completely trust her with my life. She's always been invested and supportive of every crazy thing I've done even when she sees me bowling ahead where she would fear to tread, she still is supportive with the fallout.

My children also bless her and she reminds me of that Proverbs 31 woman that we are so often compared to being. So a big HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all you special woman out there who help make this world a better place. You were meant for such a time as this...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

New book - Frangipani whispers (short stories & poetry)

Excited to finally finish the painting for our next book to be published this month called 'Frangipani whispers'. The original name was to be 'Frangipani smiles' but upon further thought of the content of some of the stories and poetry the final name seemed more apt.

Again, it's a book that has been long in my mind as some of the poems date back to the 1990s, when I first started documenting my thoughts down in poetry and it also has some stories that I wrote with authentic experiences to be shared.

As a keen, avid gardener in my early twenties those many years ago in no longer having as much time in the garden as I used to in a creating partnership with God :) in nature, there are some special flowers that stand out for me as a Pacific woman.

My first poetry collection was named 'Pacific Hibiscus' which my sister Maria painted for me and in keeping with the style and theme of the first collection, this second painting follows a similar style and features Frangipani, a 5 petals flower that I have always wanted to paint.

There's so much to do in now putting in the finishing touches to the book and checking out the poetry/stories, working on the invitations for the book launch at Otahuhu library which is always open to the community to attend and also will be giving some free books out to local schools.

Definitely a blessing to be a part of...