Friday, 31 August 2018

Tatau book 'A history of Samoan tatooing'...

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing pe'a coverJust in case you were interested in tatau or Samoan tatooing, there's a new book out by Sean Mallon about the history of tatau dating back around 3,000 years. It's a fascinating book because it has so much information surrounding it for both men and women.

Within living memory, I don't know of many of my older generations who had a traditional Samoan tatoo as when Christianity came upon the scene, much of this practice was frowned upon by the church as seeing it as much of a 'heathen' practice.

But tatau practices continued dispite this, as having a malu (women's traditional tatoo on the thighs to knees and or hand) and man's malofie, pe'a or soga'imiti (around the torso and upper legs) is seen as a cultural marker or identifier. It's also signifies bravery in having to undertake the arduous pain of being inked through traditional means as in not completing one would be seen as a shameful thing.

Once only for people of rank i.e. matai (chiefs) and their daughters or taupou (young women of rank) but in the past century that has changed to many choosing for themselves to receive tatau for their own personal or family reasons. In fact, in recent years, there's been a resurgence of interest as many receive tatau but not necessarily understanding the significance of it or being able to speak the language fluently i.e. in times of old a malu was hidden with 'tapu' status but these days many young women show it off with shorts as more of a fashion statement?

There's been a lot of interest in tatau since Europeans first witnessed seeing them in the 1700s in Samoa and thinking that they were some type of stocking in not ever seeing something like that before. Even some non Samoans have opted for the various traditional designs to their fascination or appreciation of the antiquity of some of these traditional designs.

I would highly recommend this book for those who are interested or wanting to learn more about tatau as their are many different aspects to tatau but also for those wishing to receive one. At present that Auckland Council is looking into the hygiene aspects of tatau for those in Auckland and there is a consultation meeting coming up for which I will post up for those wishing to attend.

Definitely a must read, as having skimmed through it, the book suggests that it has a lot more complicated history than it may seem on the surface...

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Wayfinding leadership book an interesting read...

Image result for wayfinding leadership Now that I've 'officially' started up again in completing my nemesis PhD studies, I've started reading again and will be sharing lots of insights and thoughts on some of these readings for those who are interested to read in studies.

Since, watching the Disney movie 'Moana' on big screen in Fiji on my birthday in 2015, I've been fascinated by the idea of 'wayfinding' and when my family travelled to Samoa and Tutuila last month, I was again reminded about how bright the stars were and the constellations in the islands that would have been maps for our ancestors to read.

I'm now considering the idea of 'wayfinding' as a methodology in my studies and wanting to learn as much as I can having been a paddler in outrigging years ago in Manukau and Tamaki clubs then a quick paddle in Rarotonga but since having a family, it's been put aside and now to pick up the paddle (studies) on further afield ocean voyaging except for me, it's from my study desk :)

What's so fascinating about 'wayfinding' is that when Europeans were just starting out in their boatbuilding, Pasifika peoples were already 'discovering' vasts lands in the Pacific Oceans using star paths, ocean swells, birds flight paths etc. to move from island to island. Their tools were what was around them in their environment from sinnet (coconut fibres) twisted into rope and tools fashioned from rocks to hull out canoes.

The difference I see now is that our ancestors left a 0 (zero) carbon footprint and much of the knowledge was lost or on the brink of extinction since colonisation but the neat thing is that not all was lost in that remnants of an amazing past is being brought to light as Pacific peoples begin to gather as much information as possible to re-learn some of the information.

And that's my commitment as well, to learn as much as I can to throw forward for future generations...

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Samoa Islands, Vol. 1, Dr Kramer...

Image result for kramer samoa I've finally been able to source my very own copy of Dr Augustin Kramer's 'The Samoa Islands' Volume 1, book that was translated from German into English by Dr. Theodore Verhaaren and his wife, which took him two years to translate and sadly the translation was not published until after death.

Dr Kramer was an interesting character as he must have kept extensive notes whilst collecting information in the early 1900s. It was believed that he had seen what was happening in Hawaii and then wanted to record as much as he could as he could see similarities happening in Samoa with the advent of colonisation and Western knowledge and technology in Samoa.

I remember when I first came across this book in the 1980s and read it in the Nelson library in Samoa i.e. the Germany/Samoan original copy and then was also able to get a copy at Auckland Uni of which I was able to photocopy some of it but now to have my own translation is a miracle to say the least.

In the 1990s, Pacific Press published the translation and I remember being in Wellington when I first saw a copy but didn't think to buy it because it was over $100 and in those days, I didn't see the point in buying it for that price.

Years later, I now see that it's being sold at around $500 for a new limited edition soft cover copy because it's now quite rare to be able to find. Now I'm looking for Vol. 2 which discusses more the material culture of Samoa.

The neat thing is that now there are also Samoan indigenous writers discussing much of the information that Dr Kramer wrote about and even disputing some of his findings. This is so important in that a critique is needed from indigenous people's perspectives of information that Western perspectives write about but do not / should not own...

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Visit '312 hub' in Onehunga - Creative space...

Image may contain: sky and outdoorThis week I was able to visit '312 hub' which is a neat art space in Onehunga for youth between the ages of 13 - 24. It was so neat to meet with the manager of this creative space and also to see the neat art pieces and discuss future plans for it.

One of the things that I knew growing up in my community was that although many people enjoyed the arts, there was very little space given for it, so unless you had a big art space like in schools or knew of someone who had a studio (I didn't know of any in my youth) youth pretty much were limited in resources and space to explore their talents.

The '312 hub' is an innovate space that allows for supplies and resources such as paints sponsored by local suppliers (for free) given to the art space to share with any youth who are interested in the arts. I was so impressed that our eldest wants to paint in that space and will be able to do so after school to complete art pieces in a space that allows for breathing and innovation.

They also have a 'givealittle' digital crowdfunding project that's currently open for donations or just jump on their Facebook page to see what's going on. I guess the sad thing about these neat community creative spaces is that they do need to be funded and sadly enough it also has a time line in that by mid next year it will be demolished to make way for other city developments.

But until such time that the bulldozers move in, they do have this space at this time to make an impact on the city of Onehunga with experienced creatives mentoring younger creatives to be creative in this creative space (get my drift?).

Anyway, all the best to '312 hub' and will be supporting them in their efforts and encouraging my eldest to breathe in that space for NCEA Art level 2 (Year 12) as well as all other youth who go to not only enjoy the creatives space but who will also be inspired...

Friday, 24 August 2018

Navigating to Norfolk - Stardome session...

Te Toki Waka Hourua crew and waka (sailing vessel)
Last night, I took my family to visit Te Toki Waka Hourua in Onehunga to support the crew who were having a fundraiser. The crew are hoping to go on a ocean voyage to Norfolk Islands shortly using only traditional wayfinding navigation. We got to have a quick tour of the premises and also got to view their Stardome session where our youngest was able to answer the questions about Matariki having studied the constellation at school.

The fundraiser is running for the last day today for $5 entry fee and they will also have an art auction as well as a 'Boosted' campaign on the 'Boosted' website. We had a great time at the Stardome session and learnt about finding our North, East, West, and South location using the stars and our hands! Wow! amazing knowledge.

This ancestral knowledge is now being reclaimed and revitalised to teach our next generations information that was on the brink of extinction but thankfully and timely, some courageous and generous people went to Micronesia to visit the last Master navigator to share his understandings before he died. You can read this story by Sam Low in his book "Hawaiki Rising" of which I wrote an earlier blog.

There will also be a couple of Saturday sessions whereby people can pay $40 to sail for an hour on the waka (of which I am considering). You just need to book at the Maritime museum or some schools have hired the Stardome sessions for their schools for $1,500 for the whole day which is also another option.

We finished the evening with a sausage sizzle and bought their stickers as supporters of which I'll put on my car but really an inspiration evening as I'm considering using the concept of 'wayfinding' as a methodology that I'll use within my research for my doctorate.

So inspirational and also I'm grateful that our next generations are learning and reclaiming these important skills that our forebearers would have had. Such a blessing...

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Saying goodbye to 'Mangere's 275 times'...

Image result for 275 timesIt's sad to have to say goodbye to 'Mangere's 275 times' that ends with it's #44th edition this month. I still remember when it first started around 2015 with such a neat format and so current in local news but read in it's last edition that it's been tough to sustain this quality monthly community print magazine due to times changing to a more digital presence.

That means that you can still check out their Facebook page and website for the latest news in Mangere and Otahuhu communities and for networking. However, it still is sad to see such a quality publication no longer being available in print for local communities.

I'd like to say thank you for the time that it was available to share community news in print form as it also supported a couple of stories on my writing journey i.e. one right at the start with my first book and another during my first local exhibition.

Hopefully it will be still accessible for the many who appreciated reading monthly news feeds on a now digital platform and will raise awareness of the many positive stories and heroes/heroines who work tirelessly for the betterment of our local communities.

Thank you for your community service to the Mangere and Otahuhu communities. You will be sorely missed but was greatly appreciated...

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Te Oro, Glen Innes (G. I) Arts centre...

Image result for te oro This last weekend I had the privilege of visiting Te Oro, Glen Innes' newly built arts centre which was opened in 2015 through one of our students who is familiar with the area.

It was a surprising treat to be given a tour of the facilities that includes: A fully functioning threatre with tiered seating and opens up to the car park thus allowing for spill over crowds or open functions. I also has a dance studio, recording studios, band practice facilities, meeting rooms, art workshops, art exhibition space and much, much more.

Wow! I was in awe of the space and the various ways that it could be utilised by the community with many programmes already open to youth for creative spaces and sharing with professionals within the community. So awesome!

Am hoping to catch a show there when we return to Te Tira Hou Marae in October for a noho Marae (overnight stays at the Marae) on a Saturday so that my class can experience live, local theatre which was something that I enjoyed writing for and directing back in my high school teaching days.

It's also now a venue to consider for future exhibition space with paintings etc. as another avenue to share our stories and listen to poetry etc. It's definitely one that I'll be keeping in mind for future ventures...

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Maungarei and the Stonefields...

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature
Pic credits: D Benioni
Today I took my class out on a fieldtrip to Maungarei (Mt Wellington) and to have a look at the Stonefields residential area. Last night one of our activities was to look into the history of the area and found that the mountain was at one time a fortified pa (Maori settlement) and that there were some 20 villages surrounding in the 1870s.

Upon visiting the maunga (mountain) and walking onto the summit and surrounding areas, we were able to see evidence of storage pits i.e. indents on the landscape that many would miss if they didn't already know as we had learned from our early visit to a mountain.

We also saw how the lava flow that used to be a huge mound (which I mistakenly thought was another mountain) had been quarried over many years to make the Auckland roads and had now been flattened so as to make way for the now residential area called 'Stonefields' from what was once was hilly terrain.

For us as indigenous researchers, it's quite sad to see how progress has endangered lands with the disappearance of natural hills and the landscape has been transformed to now what it is. I guess this would be true of most areas in the world but the difference is that this is happening in our own back yard...

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Highly recommending a Health coach and My FatSecret App...

Yesterday, I went to visit a health coach as a way of reviewing my health priorities in wanting to get fit, eat healthy and maintain a better balanced lifestyle with all the responsibilities and demands of my very busy schedule.

I would highly recommend this to any working mothers, in fact any women, who are constantly on the go and have very little time to themselves in having a health coach who can help you to reflect and reassess on all aspects of your life and to try and somehow discuss your goals and priorities and how to align them with your health goals to live a more balanced and productive lifestyle as it's really important to try and balance out the different aspects in your life but to also consider maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

So we were able to talk about the daily demands of my life i.e. work, family, studies, responsibilities, my eating habits, food shopping, cooking (or not), exercise (or not), hobbies etc. It was neat in that it really helped me to analyze and understand some of the things that I needed to do and those that needed to be kicked to the curb (so to speak).

As a result, one of the neat things that she recommended to me was an 'App' that can help track your weight, food intake (with calorie counter - if you're into that) with NZ foods and shows your progress (or lack thereof) with so many features i.e. recipes etc. which can be found on

The App is called 'My Fatsecret' and it's free and easy to use, so easy that you can register with your Facebook or Google profile and then fill out your profile questions and then you're good to go. Already I'm seeing this as a life changer in helping me to assess, daily, many of the goals that I've identified and looking forward to tracking my progress over time with this.

So if you're looking at living a more healthier lifestyle, why not consider visiting your local 'health coach' via asking your GP (General practicing doctor) and then check out the App and start your lifestyle towards a healthier you...

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

PhD Indigenous studies with Awanuiarangi Wananga...

Image result for awanuiarangi wanangaIt's been a long journey since I first started my PhD studies firstly with Auckland Uni in the Geography department back in 1997 but then when getting married and starting a family, it went on to the back burner.

After our first child got a bit older I re-enrolled in 2004 for another shot with Auckland Uni but this time in Education but as I was pregnant with our second child and was diagnosed with hyperemesis I had to forego the studies and decided to take care of our children as my first priority and left the studies to the side.

I then completed a second Masters degree in Creative writing in 2012 at AUT University and then was set to continue with doctoral studies in Creative writing but then had problems finding a supervisor so then went back enrolling in with the department of Education in 2015 but as I started teaching in the Indigenous Research space, I knew that I wasn't in the right space.

Finally, last year I decided to look into enrolling into a creative doctoral programme at AUT that extended upon my creative writing studies and still with the idea to bring in my indigenous research perspective, however, when I went to start enrolling, again things didn't seem right so I held off until this year.

I guess you can say that it's been a long time coming with over 20 years of considering and re-considering. I now have been accepted into Awanuiarangi Wananga to complete my studies in the Indigenous studies doctoral programme and within the Creative space which is such a miracle as there has only been one other doctoral candidate who has completed a creative doctorate and has paved the way for me to complete my studies.

I can't express how happy and amazed I am to have this neat opportunity. It's definitely a prayer answered and now the really hard work starts in trying to knock this out in the next couple of years having already completed much preliminary studies throughout the past 20 years.

All I can say is that sometimes things don't happen it's for a reason that only God knows about but once opened it's an opportunity to begin finishing something that I've only dreamed about. Such a blessing and so thankful to God above!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Alumni of the University of Auckland...

Image result for university of aucklandLast night, I went with my teens to the Vodafone Events centre, in Manukau, to attend an opening evening for prospective students to the University of Auckland or Auckland University as I knew it as an undergraduate.

As they went around and asked questions at the various departments, I went over with my youngest to speak informally with some current students on the different experiences I had during the 1980s as opposed to theirs in this millennium.

One of the funny experiences was relating about how we'd go on protest marches like the: save the whales in walking down to the wharf and protesting there, anti-nuclear was about walking to the American Embassy and then lying down on the road outside with someone drawing with chalk around your body so that when we stood up, it looked like a murder scene and we would all assemble in the quad with signs and banners etc. ready to go.

In talking with the current students, they talked about how social media had changed that and that now people would put up posts and students would respond through their social media platforms rather than physically protesting etc.

I remember as an undergraduate about initially feeling out of sorts in that it was a very foreign space but as I got to make friends in each of my classes and got down to doing the work that was required, I actually enjoyed going to learn something new each day and also working out at the Uni gym.

Now I'm in a different space but those formative years paved the way for what I do now and I'm not at all intimidated by mainstream university speak in now being an alumni (post graduate) from two of the largest mainstream universities in the country i.e. U of A and AUT (Auckland University of Technology).

Sometimes it's about learning what you can in those spaces and then uses that knowledge to forge your own path. I've met so many people who wished that they had done better at school before heading out into the workforce and then returning to tertiary education to give better prospects for jobs.

I'm of the thinking that wherever you go, you are able to learn many things and to never give up if you have a dream to pursue that's meant to be, it's in realising those goals that one is able to bless many others. It's the experience that I've had and Auckland Uni or U of A helped me to succeed to where I am today as a part of my life's journey...

Monday, 13 August 2018

Relax, pray and enjoy...

Image result for prayer breakfast This morning I got to go to my birth church's prayer breakfast, for an hour, from 6 am in the morning, which is now in it's 20+ years since the idea was first seeded.

It's been a little sad to remember a lot of the members who've passed as many of them were elder members of the church but they were also an inspiration to know in that a lot of their prayers were answered too.

The neat thing about it is that there are Cook Islanders, Niuean and Samoan members who regularly come together and prayer together. My father, who is in his 80s, also was a founding member and it's so neat to see him look forward to meeting together with his friends to pray together.

They also now get texts of prayer requests from different people from the church asking for prayer and that's really encouraging in that I've seen miracles happen when people join together in prayer for answers to a prayer that only God/Atua can answer.

Today, I also went to my regular 'Tikanga' (Maori customs and protocols) class that I attend each Monday and what's so neat about it is that we get to share about what's happening in our personal lives and we discuss our personal and spiritual journeys regarding how we cope with life.

Today, it was shared by our leader that often we take on things that we really don't need to worry about and that it's best to leave to our Atua/God of whom we need to trust and give all our cares and worries to because he has bigger shoulders. It was so comforting to know that despite all the cares in the world, there's a bigger and better way of solving those problems rather than trying to go in our own strength.

So, I hope that you are able to get together with your nearest prayer group, or class to share and pray together and not let life get on top of you because that wasn't the way life was meant to be. Relax, prayer and enjoy...

Friday, 10 August 2018

Community pantries - Pakata opening now...

There's some amazing people in our South Auckland community who are not only caring but also creative and have come up with ways in which to support our communities who are struggling or needing more support with food (and other essentials) going into local homes.

This particular initiative of having community pantries has been an idea that I first saw on FaceBook all over the States (USA) as a community solution and now it's so neat to see it replicated with by our own South Auckland whanau and the initiative of some lovely ladies. Just check out their FaceBook page as above on: South Auckland Free Open Pantries...

There's now a groundswell of community pantries opening with some 5 in Otara, 1 in Otahuhu, 1 in Manurewa and just today, 1 in Mangere with the hopes of more opening in local communities like: Papakura, Takanini etc.

It's been so neat to see this initiative take wing and all over FB as it's been a long time coming in community initiatives rather than Government or even NGOs (Non government organisations) as sometimes there's a lot of politics and funding involved whereas this is just neighbours helping out neighbours.

The other neat thing about it is that it can be on your own property provided that it's within the council guidelines (or ask your landlord/landlady if renting) and it's low maintenance with just a few guidelines to keep everyone safe like: no perishables, open 24/7, anyone can utilise or add to, organic fruit and veges straight from the tree or garden and highly recommended.

I'm definitely looking at how I can support this initiative with sponsoring one in my community and even looking at a space/place where we can put one up for our local communities to either take from or give. So give it a go if you can and help us to help out our communities. It will make a difference...

Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Word for Today...

This is a neat book of daily devotions that I have referred to over the years and as things can get pretty hectic in life, it's nice to be able to reach over and read some daily wisdom and advice for life.

It's written by Bob and Debby Gass who are Irish (I believe) and whom I've listened over Christian Radio here for many years.

The actual book is free and is distributed by Radio Rhema, our National Christian Radio Broadcasting company of which I am a member and supporter for many years now.

The book itself consists of 3 monthly devotions with bible readings for the day and a theme and a message that usually connections with something I'm doing for the day.

There are many of these devotional books around and it's neat to be able to use it for daily personal devotions in your prayer life or for just life in general both in the good and bad times.

So if you're needing a bit of direction and advice in life and need a higher power to turn to when life gets in a pickle, this is one source of wisdom and energy which is only an email away i.e. contact

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The humble egg test...

Image result for eggs in waterThe humble egg has had a lot of scrutiny over the past years and especially with the argument about caged hens and organicly raised chickens. So last night when arriving home after work, I watched a programme that showed a demonstration about how to know if an egg is fresh or not.

All you need is a glass of water and to test as to how fresh the egg is, you only need to place the egg into the glass of water and observe what happens it and there are usually 3 outcomes:

  1. Fresh: the egg sinks to the bottom and lies down.
  2. Is almost fresh: the egg rises to the top but doesn't go to the top.
  3. Not fresh: the egg has risen to the top and usually stand up.
This was a very interesting experiment as it allows one to see how fresh the egg actually is as often one doesn't have a clue (especially if they come in the egg cartons that have no expiry dates or date of picking.

It's also interesting because there is a scientific explanation behind it as that's not my field of expertise then probably checking out google will be the next best step. But do try this at home as it may save you a tummy ache and knowing how fresh your egg really is...

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Weekend hikoi (journey) around a Maunga (mountain)...

This weekend, I had the privilege of combining my class with my 2 colleagues larger class and we were able to go on a journey around what is locally known as Mangere Mountain, with another 4 important indigenous names of the maunga (mountain) with one of my former students who took the Certificate in Indigenous Research a couple of years ago and is now working out in the community.

It was an amazing time, as our whaea (female teacher) took us on a special tour around the mountain and we learned of so many special features of the maunga and some of the geological features that have been altered and still remained from that time such as the large kumara or food storage pits which we were told used to be over 99 of them; the face of the giant Mataoho; platforms and hills upon which the rangitira (chiefs) and tohunga (priests) lived, an altar and lots of history from purakau (ancient stories) that told of the various things that had happened over the centuries.

As mana whenua (indigenous peoples and guardians of a particular home land) she spoke of the many things that she had learned and we learned of the special stories of her people and their relation with the lands and other tribes surrounding. She was an amazing passionate speaker and her wisdom in sharing of the life lessons that we learnt of each story simply had us buzzing, so much so, that even the next day and into my class today, students were still buzzing about their amazing experience/s up on the maunga.

And these are the special moments that I am blessed with in seeing these amazing stories being spoken about and not left to die with our old peoples so that many more will learn and then will share of the sacred places and spaces and of the stories that the land holds before they become forgotten in time...

Thursday, 2 August 2018

100 years since influenza epidemic in Samoa 1918...

Image result for influenza 1918 samoaThis year in Nov/Dec marks 100 years since the influenza epidemic desolated thousands of people in Samoa due to a grave mistake by a NZ administrator to allow a ship with many sick passengers to dock at the Apia harbour only to wreck havoc on the population with many dying within weeks of contact.

When I was in Samoa, I was able to visit my Great grandfather's grave, in Faleula, in only being told a few years ago that his unmarked grave there was due to his death during that time. We can only summarize that the reason for why he was buried there was because the family didn't want him to be taken with other bodies to the mass grave where many were taken as his village of origination was in Safata.

This is one of the stories that I want to research further and to write about for releasing at the end of the year as a commemoration of my maternal Great grandfather and many other families who were affected by this devastating decision and the bad decision of a NZ administrator.

In NZ, there is a commemoration stone that marks over 8000 lives lost, including doctors, nurses and volunteers but in Samoa, I did see nor heard mention of anything although I didn't get to have a look at the museum to see if there was any information regarding this catastrophic event in which villagers were recorded of having many able people dying in the span of two months.

In honouring our past loved ones. Lest we forget...