Friday, 30 November 2018

Building project in Fasito'o-uta, Samoa...

 This year has been one busy year of study and celebration for our whole family with the five of us all in school (the children) and the adults in Wananga (Maori indigenous higher place of learning) and then the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Samoan PIC (Presbyterian Pacific Islanders Church) coming together to celebrate and then two family reunions to attend with one in Samoa and the other in NZ and now supporting a building project in Samoa.

One of the things that we are well aware of is that life for us is only for a short time so that leaving a legacy for our future generations is very important. This particular building project is in my father's village of Fasito'o-uta in Upolu and although this is a more modern house we are looking to have the more traditional fale style built at a later stage.

In my first poetry collection, I wrote a poem about the importance of my father's connection to his parents and I am currently working on my third collection that also discusses that important connection now with his children and grandchildren.

Now looking forward to strengthening those connections and travelling more regularly to Samoa with our children to strengthen those ties and to for them to know where their ancestors came from on both sides.

Also looking forward to blessing the house/fale for our parents, family and visitors but also for future generations to view and know that it was a blessing from God to be connected as Samoans, within the village of Fasito-o-uta....

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Malu lima, Samoan woman's sacred hand tatoo...

I'd like to make a big shout out to Tracie from SSAB (Samoan Stationery and Books) for getting my sister and I in contact with Cliff Cole of Tautua Ink in Avondale regarding a lima malu or sacred hand tatoo for Samoan women.

The first time I noticed one was last year during a community meeting that I attended and the woman who wore it was in her 70s and when I asked her about it, she didn't venture into any details.

Then when I was in Samoa, last July, I became aware of it through one of my sister in laws discussing how many Samoan women from overseas were travelling to Samoa and requesting the lima malu on hand and/or legs.

It reminds me of the taulima (or tattooed arm band or wrist band) in the 1990s and then in the last 5 years the rise and interest of getting the leg malu or original malu on the legs now followed by this new phenomenon of have a malu tatooed on one hand usually.

There is much history regarding the origins of the malu that have been lost in time but some of the iconology that is used still remains the same for example:

  • centipede
  • caterpillar
  • stars
  • jellyfish
  • birds footsteps
  • the sacred womanhood icon etc.
Other icons that have been added onto the traditional symbols are the 'cross' of Christianity, possibly the fish and people icons but I stand to be corrected as well as there is still much for me to learn about this important tattoo for woman.

One thing that I am sure of is that it is an honour to wear it and a very humbling experience as I believe that what a tufuga ta tatau (Master carver) tatooes on an individual is the tatoo choosing the person and not the other way around.

I would also like to ask for women wearing either of the tatooes to remember that one must be cautious and aware of this ancient form of tatoo that carries with it responsibilities and expectations in wearing marks of honour, love, belonging etc. 

One must wear it in a way that is respectful and in humility of not bringing disrepute to it and carrying it appropriately with dignity and mana as the intellectual property does not belong to you but to Samoa.

Definitely something worth considering of not wearing it lightly...

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Celebrating Mangere PIC Samoan groups 50th Jubilee...

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a Happy 50th Jubilee Anniversary to the Samoan PIC (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church) Mangere my birth church.

It was such an important event because as a church they formed together in November of 1968 with my parents being one of the foundation members and one of four families who are still with the church to this day.

My father was also blessed to be one of the last remaining elder Deacons of two other original deacons who was able to see this special occasion come to fruition.

He was also one of the significant people who was able to bring about stability to the Samoan group in it's initial years in bringing families together and sharing the vision of a place to worship with many.

That is quite some legacy as there were some 20 families who joined up at the time but some have passed on with others no longer attending the church but for those of us who have over the years, it has become our village away from the homeland and a place to call home.

It's the place where we are able to come together as a family with spiritual guidance and support as well as a place for rituals to be performed such as weddings, birthdays, religious celebrations like Easter and Christmas etc.

It was a neat celebration service that I was able to attend on Sunday with families wearing a blue and white uniform that was picked out and some neat choir songs that were reminiscent of my growing up days in the choir.

A video then was shown of the families and ministers over the time starting with Rev Sio and Rev Bob Challis who was originally from England and were pivotal in the church becoming what it is today. My father was the origin Samoa group secretary for some 22 years from 1968 to 1990 and still holds the record to this day for his continuous service over the years.

It was then followed by a feast that each family was able to share in and gifts were distributed to the different people who had made a significant contribution over the years. It definitely made me think about the things that God has blessed me with over the years and I thank God for these precious memories to share especially with my parents and something to look forward to for future generations...

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary...

Happy 17th Anniversary yesterday, to my dearest pele and love of my life: Tofilau Fritz Toeta Faapoi Filisi. Who would have thought that a chance meeting (God's plan - the day before I was to fly out to my family in Samoa to receive my matai - chiefly title in Samoa) on 23rd January 2000, we would meet and decide to keep in touch.

And then back to NZ and then losing my one way ticket to Australia when you were meant to fly back to Malaysia and then having our first date on Valentines day in 2000 with our engagement announced 3 months later with the wedding the following year in Fiji.

It hasn't been easy with so many things happening in the interim with our 3 beautiful children and now still continuing to study and work with a new direction in our writing and researching in sharing our precious stories with the next generation.

I have been so blessed in learning and growing with this wonderful man and I thank God for his patience, endurance and stamina in keeping up with a very busy mother, teacher, creative, artist, writer etc. who only sleeps at night because I need to.

I thank God for a neat father, friend and talented husband as you who has the best intentions for his family, his aiga, our friends and wider circle of families, including our church family. You try to see the best in everyone and everything and balance out the niggles that I have in things.

We were meant to be and this has been proven time and time again in the various goals that we have superceded in the blessings that have been bestowed upon our families during the good times and the bad.

May the Lord continue to bless our families and protect our marriage with the best intentions and purposes for the future. I also hope that our children will have an enduring love for one another as our parents have been blessed with and now that we share. Thank you God for this special marriage and family...

Friday, 23 November 2018

Call out for: Te Kunenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau (Indigenous research protocols)...

 This week I officially begin our recruitment phase for our next year's class in this being my last week with my class some of whom have been together with me for two years.

This next year, I'll be teaching my second class of 'Te Kungenga o te Ao Tikanga - Rangahau' which could be translated as 'a gathering of world indigenous protocols through indigenous research principles.'

The interesting thing about this course is that apart from being a 36 week course (full time/full year) it helps indigenous peoples to understand Maori tikanga (protocols), their own indigenous protocols and other indigenous protocols that are shared through the class from different cultures.

I feel that this year, I've learnt a lot about looking at faaSamoa from a different perspective in understanding how principles of old have changed to what they are today and this brings about future implications too.

I'm also recruiting for those in our community who would like to enrol in our Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge course that will begin enrolling next year for the 2020 intake. As this year, I begin to work with them on considering indigenous research principles and knowledge that would be appropriate for using in the Masters programme especially if they are Masters in their cultural practice/s.

So if there are any who are interested to enrol out in our communities, then please get in contact and I can give further information....

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Farewell to my older brother's family visiting from Sydney, Australia...

Image result for older brothersThis blog is dedicated to my older brother and sister in law and their family and is a big shout out to all 16 members of whom were able to join our NZ, Samoa and American Samoa family Reunion of the Ah Siu clan/dynasty (ha ha) and also the unveiling of our grandmother's/mother's headstone a couple of weeks ago.

My brother and his wife are based in Sydney, Australia with their family and it was neat to see 3 generations of them perform a feat of working together, coordinating, cooperating and also learning together as they travelled to two countries that of NZ and also Samoa.

It is definitely a practice that I would recommend in reminiscing of how I travelled with my grandmother to Samoa and all of the things that I learnt with her being there. It's something that I think more families should consider in sharing new learning experiences between the older and younger generations.

It was also a chance for my parents to meet with their great-grandchildren and it was such an amazing thing to see 4 generations of people come together, including my father and his sister's children, as we all had dinner together, prayed together and generally enjoyed each other's company.

I was so encouraged in seeing my brother and sister in law take their family on a journey to Samoa for the children and grandchildren to see where a part of their cultural heritage originated from and then also that of their Maori heritage in my sister in law's cultural background here in NZ.

My brother was brought up by my grandmother and so I missed out on many experiences of having an older brother about as "officially" he would have been seen as my uncle but I once joked that he could be seen as my uncle/brother and I've always seen him as my older sibling.

Samoa of old, used to hold the relationship between brother and sister to be sacred also known as a 'feagaiga' or a sacred covenant. Things have changed a lot but it can still be seen and is quite strong in Tonga and I still see remnants of it in my family.

It was so neat to have had them stay overnight and my youngest already misses her Australian Uncles/Aunties and cousins. Those connections are precious memories of which I thank my older bro for taking this neat opportunity of meeting together.

Tofa Soifua and may God bless your family until we meet again...

Monday, 19 November 2018

Weekend NZ Book Festival...

On Saturday I exhibited at the NZ Book Festival in Mt Eden and had a neat time. This would be my fourth time attending this annual event and it's been great to see how the Festival has developed over the 4 years that I've exhibited with them.

The first time I exhibited, I think I only had a couple of books released at the time but now I have some 15 books: 6 bilingual picture books, 2 poetry/prose books, 2 community voices collections (edited) and 5 play.

And there is more in the making as there are so many important ancient and historical stories to tell as well to share some of the important values that the stories contain.

Now I need a little book display (as shown) to showcase the various genre and to visually display the different books as I'd like each cover to be a piece of art in itself (quite apart from the stories/poetry etc. that are contained within).

It was also a good time to catch up with some of the other exhibitors be it: printers, other writers, bloggers, educators, self-published authors etc. Many who have been long time writers, like me, who've taken the leap of faith to self-publish.

I'm also planning on visiting some markets this summer to exhibit but to also talk with members of the public about the books and the stories contained within as well as encouraging people to pursue after their dreams as you'll never know where/ what that path will take you to...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Ah Siu Family Reunion - NZ 9-11 Nov 2018...

This weekend we had our first New Zealand Ah Siu (Samoa) Family reunion in Auckland with family coming from Samoa, Australia and American Samoa to join in the festivities.

As far as we are aware, my great, great grandfather travelled from perhaps Shanghai in China on board a ship from America to land in Samoa in the 1800s.

From there he was able to work perhaps as a cook and worked his way in finding opportunities to acquire land, shops and married a Samoan woman of whom he had five children with.

Their eldest child was named Aialaisa and he was my great grandfather who was a ship's captain who died trying to put out a fire on the ship. My late grandmother was his eldest child and my father her eldest child.

This family reunion helped me to put the pieces together of a puzzle that I hadn't really been able to figure out in not having all the pieces until the gafa or family genealogy was shared in which I am now able to make the connections to villages and names that I hadn't understood earlier.

It was also neat to be able to meet new cousins as well as to see my elder brothers party of 16 who came from Sydney for the unveiling of the tombstone for my grandmother which was also on the weekend.

I count my family blessed for having had this time together in honouring those who had passed on, those who are the current elder leaders of our family and also looking at the generations that we currently have with plans afoot for another family reunion in Samoa in 2021.

A real blessing and privilege to be a part of...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Today marks 100 years since fatal Influenza epidemic hit Samoa...

Today, in Samoa and with Samoans all over the globe, marks 100 years commemoration of a devastating event that would have far-reaching consequences to the history of Samoa.

In 1918, the 'Talune' as pictured beside left New Zealand with passengers who were sick with the influenza virus.

Already in NZ it had begun to take it's toll with up to 9000 people dying by the end of its furvour.

However, in American Samoa not a life was lost because of the caution of the American administrator at the time and the quarantine that was in force that prevented the Talune from docking there.

That was not so for three other Pacific Island nations of: Fiji, Tonga and Samoa that did not escape as the ship headed to each port and left devastation behind in thousands dying within days and weeks of coming into contact with the dreaded disease between November and December of 1918.

In Samoa, it is estimated that around 10,000 people died perhaps a quarter of the population and these are estimates only because no one knows for sure in what happened. My maternal grandfather told my mother stories of what he'd seen as he was only 9 years old at the time and the devastation of seeing loved ones dying and disease decimating village populations.

My grandfather's own father died during that time and was buried in a lone grave in Fale'ula. There now stands a church next to his grave and I hope to write a book that will tell the devastating story for many to learn about and not forget.

In 2002, the then Prime Minister, Helen Clark, apologised on behalf of the NZ government for the NZ administration who had been negligent and were responsible for the thousands who had died. How can an apology cover over the suffering and the loss of so many generations?

I am so thankful that many more are more aware of what happened in Samoa's history 100 years ago, about what I wasn't taught in NZ schools and what I know was the apathy of NZ administrators whose feet this falls squarely at...

Friday, 2 November 2018

'Hibiscus and Ruthless' movie...

I finally got to watch 'Hibiscus and Ruthless' by the makers of 'Three Wise Cousins' last night thanks to my youngest sister who got things rolling as I'd been talking about watching it at the movies but due to my busy schedule, I wasn't able to get there during the premiere etc.

So when I watched it with my own children, I couldn't help laughing at some of the Samoan jokes and nuances that I was aware of and that many other non Samoans might not understand especially the mum's staunch and strict upbringing of her daughter of which I could relate to through my father.

It was also funny because the Uni scenes were set at Auckland University where I spent the better part of five years of my life in the Arts Faculty and the Gym. Most of it's since been upgraded but it still stirred a lot of good memories in studying and the carefree life of being a poor Uni student at the time.

The storyline of the movie started quite funny in parts but by the middle of the movie it turned serious and sort of lost it's funny bone but still reconciled the two generations of the mother and the daughter with their different values and the daughter's pakeha friend who sometimes seemed to take on the Samoan values more than her Samoan friend.

Still, it was an interesting movie that I would recommend for Samoan young woman to watch with their families, especially if they come from traditional ones like the way I was brought up because I know of a lot of young women who rebelled and ended up pregnant or left home early or eloped because they couldn't reconcile their ideas with the traditional ones.

Highly recommended for a laugh at the beginning but then a serious message at the end, much like 'Three Wise Cousins'...