Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Winter 2018 Creative project - crocheting beanies...

I was first taught to crochet by my mum when I was very young as well as knitting and sewing. Of the three, crocheting is my favourite as there are so many things that you are able to make.

So when I was very young, I started crocheting small blankets so much so that my step grandma admired it and asked me if I could teach her as well as some aunties of which I did.

I remember watching her crocheting in Samoa and also in L.A. (USA) asking for bundles of wool so that she could make blanket spreads.

I remember also teaching my little brother, but then he lost interest and now it's time to teach my youngest to crochet as I remember I must have been about 7 - 9 when I first picked up my first crocheting hook.

Some of the things I remember making when I was very young were dolls clothes, scarves, shawls (when I was a lot older after learning from my mum again) table placement mats and dolls blankets and shawls etc.

And every year, since having children, I've dedicated winter to different projects i.e. scarves, blankets for each child and my latest project is making up beanies. So far I've crocheted around 6 of them for my parents, husband, sister, myself, and daughters and it's a lot of fun watching them grow and trying different colour combinations as well.

My lil' one says that I should open up a beanie shop, but then that would take the fun out of it as I just enjoy having toasty warm ears and head on a cold winters day with my beanie on. Again, never a dull moment..

Monday, 25 June 2018

Libraries and new book...

On the weekend I decided to go with my youngest to a library which is not our local or usual and was neat to see a couple of our books in the library.

Well of course, I just had to bring it to the forefront for any to see but was a neat to see, although I did think their Pacific collection seemed small but then that could be because lots of people have already taken them out?

Also this weekend, I've been researching a new book that I've been wanting to write about for ages. It's a book on Nafanua and it's quite exciting for me because I'm now thinking about starting a new Samoan stories collection of 'Historical' tala or tala faasolopito and this could be the first to launch in that series.

And as we are going to be in Samoa for 2 weeks during the July holiday break, we thought why not launch it is Samoa? which does mean a bit of time pressure for me.

Now the text is complete and looking at the style of drawings/painting for this series and considering ink on colour pencil/water colours but still working on this to see what effects look best. So very exciting because it's been something that I've been thinking about for so long in a historical series as I know that when I was growing up, very little historical information was taught about my own cultural histories and now I get the chance to work this through for the next generations.

Please do keep an eye/ear out for our next launch or book series that we anticipate will be available in the next couple of months...

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Family & Funeral service faaSamoaNZ way...

This past couple of days I've been at an Aunt's funeral. She was one of the pioneers of her family, as were my parents, in leaving beautiful indigenous Samoan homelands to come to the promises of Aotearoa, New Zealand for Western styled homes, money to send back home and future prospects for their children.

It was such a blessing to listen to the different stories in that she came from a family of 18 siblings (some adopted from close families) and have loved in harmony. Her brother was the paramount chief of one of my father's villages and he too has passed on leaving a legacy for our families.

Her grandparents were ministers and there are connections that I am able to make to them as my mother remembers them ministering in her village when she was very young. They ministered there for over 50 years and the minister was buried in her village as well.

I remember being asked to be a bridesmaid at both my late and uncle and aunty's children's weddings and it was an honour to represent our family at these important family events in solidifying connections. I also met one of my former student's husband (I was also a bridesmaid at her wedding but that's another story) and it was neat to learn that she too has become an English teacher. I must have done something right :)

As for my aunt's day, it was beautiful, although a very sad day for the family, I know she would have been very happy with the outcome of the time. The families, church and friends were able to support her family financially so that when all the bills were paid and there was some left over to be redistributed for the needs.

It was also interesting to see the faaSamoa in action at the reception with fine mats and boxes of chicken and boxes of corned beef distributed to the church and families represented. Many NZ born Samoan stop the faaSamoa in not understanding much of the symbolism, language and money distribution that goes on and in many ways is it quite sad in the ways that our faaSamoa is not understood by this generation.

But for me watching our families working through together it reminded me of why it is important to teach our children about the things that are important in our cultures in order to pass the information to know for the next generations through communicating them.

So now I'm going to enrol in more classes at MIT Manukau Institute of Technology in the faaSamoa matai bilingual classes to continue to grow my understandings of the faaSamoa, my engagements and obligations as a matai in the family and to see how to pass on this imformation for our families...

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Rev. John Williams 1830s writings...

Yesterday, I received a neat surprise having bought a book from an online auction site and not really knowing what it was going to be about, I opened the book and realised that it was the writings of Rev. John Williams when he first set foot on Samoa.

It described his thoughts (I assume from his journal) and his narrative about sailing around the Pacific Islands i.e. Cook Islands, Samoa and surrounding areas. It was interesting to note his attitude and the various scenes that confronted him in being the very first 'papalagi' or European that had set foot on some of the islands.

It was also interesting to read his account of what happened when Christianity first reached the shores of Samoa in that there was much warring and civil battles were being fought amongst paramount chiefs over land in Samoa in 1830s and it was through Fauea, a Samoan translator, that Rev. John Williams himself credits for being able to bring about the smooth transition from a so-called 'heathen' state with people in-fighting to bringing about a new religion that was about peace and not taking things as other Europeans were known for doing.

I think the sad thing for me was in reading of some of the attitudes both positive and negative in the society at the time i.e. Rev. John Williams writings discussing ideas of 'savagery', 'heathen' etc. although he was quite surprised to see that Samoa itself was very clean and structured. It was also interesting to note the ways in which women and girls were portrayed and seen at that time as women would be topless and with only a string of long leaves around their waist except for special occasions whereupon tapa/siapo and fine matting was worn.

He also told of some of the undesireable men who left different European places bound for the islands to escape but bringing with them their attitudes. I think the special thing for me was being able to read and almost be transported to his time and place there i.e. in being able to read about his experiences of visiting Samoa some 200 years ago when some of my ancestors were alive.

Such a neat blessing to read...

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Graduates from the class Certificate in Indigenous Research 2017...

Graduating my class at the Vodaphone Events Centre in Manukau
Last night it was such a privilege to see my class of twenty (although only a few came) graduate with their Certificate in Indigenous Research.

Sadly, it was the last year for that particular course but am still teaching indigenous research under a different banner, namely 'Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau' (level 4) or the gathering/development of world protocols through research.

Each of my tauira had story to tell of the times that we spent together in class, the presentation and the fieldtrips that we went on with the enjoyable times that we had together.

Each of them have now gone on to different journeys and the neat feedback that I got from all of them is the research skills that they learnt on the course has enabled them to continue their researching journeys into other fields, courses and even within their iwi, hapu, whanau, aiga, communities etc.

Afterwards, we went to Dennys for dinner and dessert and it was such a neat time to catch up on each others lives and to see where they are at and what they are doing. It was also neat to take my eldest with me who was able to take the pics of my class and share with the wonderful night that we had together.

A real joy to be a part of many journeys that in crossing paths we have been able to make each others life's journeys more richer because of it. A very blessed and humbling feeling that I thank my Father from up above...

Friday, 15 June 2018

PILOT Pacific Islands Leaders for Tomorrow family dinner...

Last night I attended the 9th PILOT 'Pacific Islands Leaders of Tomorrow' family dinner for Year 12 students and was quite surprised that this entity existed.

That could be because I've been involved in an indigenous learning institute instead of mainstream education for several years but it was such a neat initiative to learn about.

The initiative brings together key Pasifika liaison leaders in tertiary education institutions from around Auckland (and outside) to inform, inspire and disseminate information to Pasifika families about how to best enrol into the Tertiary education institutions of their choice.

Tonight I learn that there were many tertiary institutions that are in the PILOT initiative that I've been involved with or know of such as:
  • University of Auckland (I'm an alumni and worked there)
  • AUT University (I'm an alumni and taught there)
  • MIT Manukau Institute of Technology (worked and have studied there)
  • Ignite College
  • University of Victoria (Wellington)
  • other Pacific PTEs Private Training Establishments
There may be others that are missing but those were the only ones that I remembered. What I liked about the programme is that the committee is involved with bringing together Pasifika students from Year 10 - 13 from all over Auckland high schools on a one day programme and then a dinner for families. At these times the University graduates share stories of encouragement and tips on what to do and where to go and who to talk to in order to be able to get into the various courses for after Year 12/13.

Some of the information that I learnt was invaluable such as not knowing that most Universities will take Year 12 results as a indication of what the student is likely to get and will go from these in making their decisions about placement. I also learnt about scholarship dates being mid year rather than close to the end of the year which is what I'd originally thought.

So I'm writing to my school child's school to thank them for this opportunity and to encourage them to continue to strongly support this initiative as it is very beneficial for our youth and the families being informed about what to do in wanting to continue their education beyond Year 12.

I'd highly recommend each high school to be a part of this developing initiative and to encourage parents to ask about it as each school is left to decide if they want to send students into the programme and which students to be involved. Highly recommended to all...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Day 7 (last day) of Ration challenge...

Today is my last day on the Ration challenge and it was definitely humbling and quite an eye opener for me. It's a fairly new charity challenge that requires you to sign up and receive a ration challenge box with a few guidelines on how to eat and 'ration' your food for 7 days all the while trying to garner up sponsors who become your supporters to raise money for a worthy cause.

I hear and see a lot on the TV and media about refugees around the world who are uprooted from their homes and often have to walk miles, with only the clothes on their back and leaving behind everything they have in order to survive and stay alive.

This is one way for me to become involved in supporting those who often aren't able to help themselves i.e. those who are in Syria and other war torn places where children and women are most vulnerable.

The pic above is of some of the resources that are encouraged for participants to access and use whilst on the challenge and I must admit that I should have used the recipe book as I kind of ate the same food but did lose 5 kgs as a result.

So although the official challenge starts next week, I've already completed mine and will consider joining up and supporting the cause by still looking for sponsors for this challenge. I must say that I was fairly surprised in that rice made me full and I didn't have any hunger pangs and the same with simple crepes so if you are interested in joining or even supporting the cause please click the buttons that follow: and

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

First Pasifika writer's autobiography...

I've just finished reading this book 'Miss Ulysses from Puka-puka' by Florence (Johnny) Frisbie and found it so very interesting.

I picked it up from a local library in the Pasifika section whilst researching and was surprised to see Johnny Frisbie as the author as I remember seeing her on 'Beauty and the Beast' a 70s -80s TV show with Selwyn Toogood as the host.

It was filmed in Christchurch it was an interesting programme in that it had mainly Pakeha women giving advice to those who had written it with their problems. Johnny Frisbie was the only Pasifika woman that I remember ever being on the show of Cook Island descent.

However, when I read the book, I was surprised to find out that she claimed it to be the first autobiography written by a Pasifika person, which I think maybe right in that she was only young when it was first published in 1946.

I would definitely recommend this book for reading as it was only republished in a couple of years ago and discusses her life growing up in the 1930s - 1940s (from diary entries) with her American father growing up in Puka Puka and her Puka Puka mom.

Her father was also a writer, known as Robert Dean Frisbie, and he'd married Ngatokura A Mataa (who died after their 5 children were born) and Johnny tells the story of their lives travelling, as her father was also a South Seas Trader and the many situations that they found themselves in travelling around the Pacific eg. to Fiji, Samoa, other atolls and later to Hawaii and USA.

She was also aware of the migration history of Pasifika peoples and the last big waka or indigenous sailing vessels that had traversed between Puka Puka and Samoa, such a gem to read from the account of one so young in the 1940s.

Highly recommended for Pasifika researchers out there from a Pasifika perspective...

Monday, 11 June 2018

PBRF - Performance Based Research Fund applications - Professional development day...

Te Wananga o Aotearoa, 2015 Symposium participants (I'm in 4th row)
Today, I'm taking a Professional development day to work on my application with Te Wananga o Aotearoa toward the PBRF (Performance based research fund) 2018 that requires an Evidence portfolio.

As far as I'm aware, every 6 years tertiary institutions must make applications to access research funding and the lecturers, teachers etc. must complete a set port folio criteria to demonstrate the research that they have participated in i.e. putting their best efforts forward. This then gets discussed by a panel and decisions are made as to the funding that each institution is able to access. That's probably very simplified and in a nutshell but very interesting to learn about.

This means that I need to be able to write about my research (rangahau, tofa sa'ili) over the past 6 years since 1 Jan 2012, starting with my second Masters degree in Creative writing and then an account for the 'outputs' that I have written, engaged in etc.

Above is a 2015 picture that taken of a group of us who participated in a Symposium in 2015. I remember delivered a session sharing about my writing journey about informing the next generation of our sacred stories that were being lost in time. And this year, I'll be delivering another presentation in October to share the gems that I have learnt along my research journey...

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Ancestry DNA Personal Discoveries Project...

I've just completed 9 surveys with the Ancestry DNA Personal Discoveries Project.

It comprises of giving consent to answer 9 short surveys on:

  1. Personality Profile
  2. Life Story
  3. Traits and Characteristics
  4. Health and Wellness
  5. Hobbies and Interests
  6. Family Traits
  7. Travel and Culture
  8. Fun and Entertainment
  9. Lifestyle and Behaviour
I found these surveys so very interesting as I reflected on some of the experiences that I've had in each of the categories eg. with the #7 in being a minority culture growing up as a Samoan in NZ, I was very interested in other cultures and therefore took Geography as a high school student because I was interested in travelling and have travelled to at least 8 nations and then met my husband who'd travelled at least double that.

In the #5 category, I basically checked all the boxes in being interested in arts, music, dance, play different musical instruments, have been to art galleries etc. and that was a part of my exposure to the arts through my parents, family and church and cultural community and also being interested in the arts and entertainment including sports growing up.

Definitely interesting to participate in and looking forward to the results and developments in this arena..

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Sponsor me on 'Oxfam Ration Challenge'...

This week I've started a 7 day Oxfam Ration Challenge beginning yesterday and with only 5 more days to go it's definitely been an eye opener.

A couple of months ago, I registered on the programme and received the ration pack/box a few weeks ago containing:

  • a can of kidney beans
  • a can of sardines
  • a packet of rice
  • a packet of lentils
  • a packet of chick peas
  • a bottle of cooking oil
  • a 'voucher' to buy a packet of rice (1.5kg)
  • a 'voucher' to buy a packet of flour (400g)
And now that I've had someone sponsor me, I've been able to add some spice which is my favourite Lemon Pepper, a spice that my mum introduced me to years ago and I haven't turned from it since and it definitely beats salt hands down.

This weekend also coincides with the World Vision's 40 hour Famine which is an event that I've participated in since the teenage years. It starts on Friday at 8 pm and then stops at 12 noon with a big lunch I remember over the years. 

This year, I thought to up the ante and support a charity with a challenge that needed to be brought to light as there are many refugees around the world who are often voiceless and left in the hands of the host society having often been forced away from homes due to war, a natural disaster etc.

I must say that yesterday is was very interesting to start with a bowl of rice and some kidney beans with some lemon pepper and this morning it was having 2 pancakes of flour and water with dinner still yet to be cooked.

It's really highlighted for me the issue that families have trying to survive on ration packs that are so important for their survival but for me realising that it's been a choice makes me want to gather as much support as possible for their plight.

So if you would like to sponsor me, please view my online challenge on: every little bit counts so whatever you are able to donate is gratefully appreciated. The $ directly to the organisation and helps refugees around the world. You are also able to try the Oxfam Ration Challenge yourself and help those who aren't able to help themselves...


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Education Conversations survey...
Yesterday, I listened to one of the first Tongan MP, Member of Parliament, to be in office at the Pasifika Post budge breakfast. Honourable Jenny Salesa discussed briefly some of features of the various portfolios that she deals with as Minister of Building and Construction & Ethnic Communities; Associate minister for Housing; Health, Urban development & Education.

She spoke about the difficult situations that some of our Pasifika families are in i.e. in the 1990s about 50% of Pasifika population owned their own houses but now it is less than 20% of Pasifika population which is a worry for our future generations.

Another subject that she also spoke about was for more Pasifika people to have a say on the 'Educational conversations' that the Ministry of Education is having digitally on their website:

There are 4 quick questions that relate to asking about what the important things are in education that people think need to happen in schools i.e. around what you would do if you were the boss of education and what schools should look like and what needs to happen.

Some very important questions as she did say that few Pasifika people had filled in the questionaire, which is a worry as we really need to consider what we think would be helpful for the next generational learning.

I commented about having a less Eurocentric curriculum and having one that reflects the communities that schools are in; that schools need to ensure that there is more cultural competencies for teachers and this is a regular occurrence having witnessed many teachers teaching Pasifika and Maori students without having a clue about their backgrounds and then wondering why the students don't respond favourably to their teaching which is still happening in classes around NZ today.

I also encouraged for the teaching and learning of more than two languages to be compulsory, like in many countries in Europe that teach four languages of neighbouring countries for communication purpose and education. I thought that teaching creative, knowledge, indigenous knowledge and sports, health etc. for students to be highly multi-functioning individuals who are able to problem solves from various paradigms and perspectives and who are highly confident.

Notwithstanding the importance of knowing Tangata whenua local communities and having an affinity with the local mana whenua, schools being associated to Wananga to get a better understanding of Mana Tangata and whenua as well as each student knowing well who they are and where they come from. When many of these ingredients are missing (not evening mentioning the spiritual [for me Christian] aspects of life) it's a recipe for disaster and why we have a flailing/failing education system in my opinion...

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Post-budget Pasifika community breakfast with Labour government's Pasifika leaders...

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit
Photo credits: From Ministry of Pacific Peoples
Today, I was able to attend a Pasifika post-budget breakfast with many Pasifika leaders in attendance from many spheres of influence i.e. business, education, local and national government, church leaders etc.

At the beginning of the speaking engagement, Aupito Su'a William Sio spoke about how it's been drummed into him that our Pacific ancestors were once reknown for their navigation in using the environmental and other indicators to lead them through a safe passage to land.

He continued about how we, as Pasifika peoples, have entered into a different phase from the 1960 - 1980s when we were the experiencing new lands to now being into generations of Pasifika families being born in NZ and also blending our families with different nationalities in the mix. That now we need to learn about navigating a whole new world ahead of us.

It was interesting to also listen to the Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, and his 'foundational' budget which is to try and steer things at a foundational level with $ going to education, housing, infrastructure which hopefully will provide more jobs and transport also being a big money spender.

As for our Pasifika communities, I'm seeing a real urgent need at a grass roots level for our children and future generations to not be complacent with their educational goals, it's even made me more aware that the current education system doesn't cater well at all for Pasifika peoples and that we really need to look further afield than the ancient Western classrooms which have only caused few to succeed.

I think Kura Kaupapa, Te Whare Kura and Wananga are the way to go ahead with the need for our children to be able to speak at least three languages, to diversify their talents when problem solving and to be able to think laterally and creatively, giftings that a four walled classroom and a digital platform can't fathom.

It's lived experiences that make life meaningful and engaging that will assist our peoples to move forward and to not allow the negative stigma of Western paradigms to dictate what we as are people can and cannot do. After all, we came from an ancestry of brilliant navigators...

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Mauri stone with Rangahau...

 Last week, I received this stone as a part of our rangahau (research equivalent) journey as practioners in the field. Being within the research group of our Wananga (Maori indigenous higher place of learning ), we were each asked to reach into the kete (woven basket) and to see which one came to us. This was the stone that was retrieved and it came from the South Island of NZ.

As a group, we commit to participating in rangahau on behalf of our Wananga and as a part of my commitment to indigenous research, I continue to share my rangahau journey through this blog, books and presentations or speaking engagements to the public, in schools and wherever I'm asked to share.

In Te Ao Maori, (worldviews) environmental objects are believed to have a mauri (spiritual force) very similar to ancient Samoan beliefs. This is seen in the significance of greenstone known as 'pounamu' which is a prized possession and one which I received a few years ago.

The stone will be a constant reminder, for me, about the importance of our journeys to encourage our next generations to learn and to hold fast to their cultural identities and the knowledge that has been passed down to us for centuries.

It's also a reminder that although we exist, we also have a limited time upon this earth, and that it's the spiritual and organic things that matter more so than possessions or prestige, that we all will return to the elements (bodily) but spiritually, that's another story...

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Pop up South Collective...

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting
Pic credits: by Mia King
A big shout out to Mia King, who has been so great in doing what she does best to promote local entrepreneurs to share their 'wares' in various locations via her business networks.

As yesterday, I had the privilege to a part of the giveaway prizes through our books for 'Koko Queen' and dance competition at Mangere Town Centre on the last day of Samoan language week. 

Now as some of you may know, I love to dance (not so public) and it was neat to see so many receiving the books to not only encourage literacy but also that some may later be gifted to other family members to read. I knew that many would have loved to dance but were so shy but if asked would have jumped at the chance.

Something I remember in the 1970s and 1980s were the dance 'socials' or discos at church venues or halls and used as fundraisers which aren't as common or popular as they used to be in being a place where people would get together and dance which was not only good for showing their dance moves but was also a place for socialising and getting together.

Now we usually watch it on TV with the likes of 'dancing with the stars' (which is one of my fave programmes to watch when in season) or other dance movies that feature dance as a part of the storyline.

So a big 'faafetai' (Samoan for thank you), 'meitaki' (Cook Islands for thank you), 'malo au pito' (Tongan for thank you) and 'fakafetai' (Maori for thank you) to Mia King for her support for our community businesses...

Friday, 1 June 2018

Schools visits on Samoan language week...

It's been a very busy week, this Samoan language week, with my parents returning from Samoa and birthday celebrations and even got to sneak in a couple of school visits in celebrating Samoan language week.

Of course, this never happened when I was younger as it is a more recently created event but it is so neat to see how many schools and work places have embraced the understanding of having more than one language as being beneficial.

In this particular pic, I was invited to speak to two groups of classes with my husband, who is the translator of the English, and in both classes students were taking Samoan language as a subject in their Junior years. This was so exciting and encouraging as I know that this information will inform their identities as Samoans and I was able to share my journey of writing in wanting to share some of the ancient knowledge to this generation in knowing that a lot of information has not been passed down especially in living outside of the 'motherland'.

Another interesting topic that my beloved was able to share with the classes was to reject the idea of being called a 'plastic Samoan' and I carried it further by discussing how it was a recent idea and that no one has to accept someone else's perception of what it means to be Samoan i.e. that just because one doesn't speak Samoan, or has never been to Samoa, or doesn't know much about being Samoan that if their genealogy traces back to Samoan and of their intent is to learn to be Samoan, then they are despite what others say.

This is something that I was able to research about in my own understandings within the last couple of years of teaching indigenous research and what's so encouraging is to be able to share this information directly with students as they are forming opinions and understandings about their cultural identities.

What a privilege it was to be able to share this vital information with members of the next generation and looking forward to writing even more and sharing more through more books, speaking engagements, online and wherever the need is...