Sunday, 15 September 2019

Pacific Hub in Manukau promo...

This week we decided to take up Pacific Business Hub's offer through Laura Keil-Hall (Director/Manager) to advertise our products (books) at the hub in a glass case display.

In fact, you can check out the Pacific Business Hub's services available for our Pasifika business on their website of www.pacificbizhub.co.nz.

You can also check out their very active Facebook page which is full of informative info regarding their upcoming events and promotions of Pasifika businesses and their products.

When I went to discuss the idea for promoting our books at the hub, I was pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful decor and the tasteful display of Pasifika business products with plenty of floor space for meetings and spaces occupied by Pasifika businesses.

It's definitely a first for our Pasifika communities because apart from the Ministry of Pacific peoples offices and the Pacific Business Trust, there are few places that Pasifika peoples are able to find support for setting up businesses and maintaining them.

I'm looking forward to getting more involved in networking with other Pasifika businesses in that it's good to be strategic in managing our resources and to take opportunities to promote our products and services to and for our own people.

It's definitely a service that is much needed within our Pasifika communities and I thank Laura for her foresight and visionary leadership to seeing this Pasifika business concept to fruition. No doubt, many businesses will benefit from having business and contact with this important business hub...

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel (2017 - 2019) over and out...

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking our eldest to a luncheon function to celebrate the end of the Auckland Council's Advisory Panels' term.

Featured here is a pic of the certificate that each panel member received as signed by the current Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff and he also gave them out to each of us at the ceremony.

The neat thing was that over this last 3 year period our panel was lead by two committed and amazing leaders: our chairperson, Leaupepe Ralph Elika with Ligi (Caroline) Harris as vice-chair and we were able to learn about and have input into various Auckland Council initiatives from a Pasifika perspective and often advocating (although I'm told that it's not really our job) or voicing concerns on issues that affect our Pasifika peoples.

In the next couple of weeks, we'll be voting on who will be Auckland's Mayor, Councillors, DHB District Health Boards and local Board members etc. These are paid positions for three years and each person elected has a responsibility to represent their elected members and they may also have political affiliations with current political parties i.e. Labour, National, the Greens etc.

That's why it's really important for us to be informed or at the very least to exercise our right to vote for those people who you believe will represent you fairly at these upcoming local elections. By not voting we are allowing those who do to choose who will be our representatives in these important influential spaces.

Already I've already made up my mind to vote for Pasifika representation (and Samoan at best) with the two Autagavaia brothers (Apulu Reece and his brother Taufagaafa Dr Vaaiga ) on the DHB and our two current Samoan Councillors, Faanana Efeso Collins and Alf Filipaina as well as Lemauga Lydia Sosene and others from my local board (some of whom I'm officially related too as well).

And at the end of the day, although few Pasifika people actually choose to exercise their right to vote, the votes are still counted and those who receive the most votes get into these decision making and influential spaces that do have a bearing on Pasifika people issues whether we vote or not...


Friday, 13 September 2019

'Navigating Journeys' upcoming anthology and cover art...

Navigating Journeys (2019) study.
Ink, Watercolours and Acrylics on canvas
I'm so excited as have now booked dates (some tentative) at four local libraries running creative writing workshops for teens. The libraries are:

  • Mangere East
  • Mangere Bridge
  • Mangere Town Centre
  • Otahuhu Toia 
The criteria for the youth writers are for ages 13 - 19 to either: live, work or study in Mangere/Otahuhu geographical areas and the theme for the writing is based around the idea 'Navigating Journeys'.

The deadline dates are very tight so there's not a lot of leeway for me to move with our book launch proposed date being early December but will see how it goes.

The short stories or poetry submissions that I'm particularly interested in publishing for the book is around stories or poetry that resonate with the theme and will also make people think or reconsider things from varying perspective/s.

The above art work study that I developed from the idea of the malu (traditional Samoan's womens tattoo) started with a pencil study, then I added ink to the drawing followed by a watercolour study using a browns palette and then onto an acrylic 'boxed' art canvas in which I wanted to paint the patterns in such a way as to show movement as a necklace, ribbon or sash or even as a superhighway that is multi-directional.

This particular artwork will be at all workshops to hopefully inspire youth writers to share their perspectives, tell their stories that will engage meaningfully with their audience. Again, a very privileged space to be a part of. Thank you God! ...




Thursday, 12 September 2019

Fave Samoan artist, Fatu Feu'u...

Fatu Feu'u the artist. (Photo credits: unknown)
My most fave Samoan artist since a teenager has been Fatu Feuu. In fact, yesterday in my art class I gave a short presentation on his life and art of which I have found so inspiring but never quite understood the motifs until I started studying his art.

The presentation was an assessment that asked students to identify an artist that they were interested to talk about, their whakapapa or gafa (genealogy) and to discuss their art.

Fatu was born in the village of Poutasi in the 1940s and left for NZ in his early 20s with this family. His dream was always to become an artist and his mother supported his dream.

Much of his artistic expressions draw from his roots as a Samoan with much of his works including motifs from tapa and traditional Samoan male tattoo designs/patterns of the pe'a or malofie with his own spin on the interpretations etc.

Unfortunately, he was married and divorced twice as I guess being a struggling artist relying solely on commissions and contracts can be a big strain on family life and the life of being a reclusive artist when big projects are commissioned.

You can see examples of his art all over the place with his works being snatched up by a lot of Auckland companies, government departments and all over the world. Locally, I've seen his work on Auckland library walls eg. Otahuhu Library, Mangere community board office in Mangere Town Centre, University of Auckland Education department etc it was even funny when earlier this year we walked into our local Papatoetoe law office and when I identified Fatu's work on the wall (can't help being a big fan) the lawyer wasn't even aware of how iconic/famous the art is.

In the presentation, I also mentioned that my mum's been my greatest inspiration in art and design as I observed her create and design many things growing up from dresses, bags, necklaces etc. it's a trait that I picked up and continue to enjoy in being a creative...

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Book grant for "Navigating Journeys" accepted...

I'm over the moon again with much thanks to our Mangere Otahuhu local board for believing in us and in granting the funds to publish and print our third installment of community voices 'Mana Mangere writers collective' books.

This time we've changed it up a notch and want to include youth and specifically teenagers who would like to contribute to our new book entitled "Navigating Journeys".

So this time, I'll be running creative writing workshops (first come first served basis) free of charge for interested teens in our local libraries (funded by the grant) with a view to publish a book at the end of the year.

This means again, a bit of running around for me to make things happen at the various locations before the end of the year but that's what makes it really exciting in being hopeful to attract young writers from our local areas.

And so the fun begins and if you know of any teenage writers of either poetry or prose, please pass on the message. I'll have soon have the details for our writing workshops at one of our four local library locations of:

  • Mangere Town Centre
  • Mangere East
  • Mangere Bridge
  • Otahuhu 
Watch this space or contact me on: helentauaufilisi@gmail.com for further details...

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Beautiful intimate wedding at the Botanical Gardens...

The newlywed couple
I love weddings and today I was able to witness the special day of my youngest brother's marriage to the love of his life and high school sweetheart with both families together at a lovely intimate ceremony in Auckland's Botanical Gardens in Manurewa.

The weather was beautiful and gave amazing photographic moments, in the gardens as we witnessed the exchanging of vows of this special couple.

As it has been long anticipated having been engaged for several years whilst living and working in Melbourne. However, they wanted to return to NZ to have a small, no-fuss occasion with both their parents witnessing and surrounded by families. It was simply beautiful.

For some years previously I've been a wedding florist for over 200 weddings with an online presence but that changed in 2010 after the first Christchurch earthquake as many of my clients had been from the South Island.

And for my special bro and his lovely wife (to be at the time) I was able to offer my services as their wedding planner in organising the wedding venue, the ceremony, decorating the venue, planning the menu for refreshments after the ceremony, a scenic photoshoot in the Botanical gardens, reception, MC (bilingual Master of Ceremonies) being my beloved, clean up at both venues, wedding cake and paying off the bills.

Wow! And the official marriage celebrant was Dianne Troupe, of whom I would highly recommend to all. She was absolutely amazing in the professional ways that she worked with me at such short notice i.e. 2 days before the wedding she was able to share some beautiful vows that were intimate, personalized and "on point" as my sister-in-law described as they brought many to tears. You can check out her webpage on: www.diannetroup.com

And so looking forward to the next wedding that I may (or most likely) not be the wedding planner as I know that we have my cousin's family wedding in Samoa at the end of the month of which I am still contemplating to attend having already been to Samoa twice this year already but then again, I love weddings...




Friday, 6 September 2019

'Take Home Pay' Samoan movie ...

Last night my beloved shouted our family out to watch the Samoan-Kiwi comedy movie 'Take Home Pay'. It's the third movie out by writer and director Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa who self-funded the hit movies 'Three wise cousins' (which happens to be my favourite of the three) and 'Hibiscus & Ruthless'.

It features Tofiga Fepuleai, Samoan-Kiwi comedian debuting in his first feature film. He was the one of two comedians that put Samoan comedy on the world stage with their 'Laughing Samoans' series. There were many different tours and the skits often had us Samoans in stitches, reminding us of some of the antics and idiosyncrasies that Samoans have.

This movie was no different with Tofiga playing the role of a not so smart private investigator trying to help a Samoan overstaying fruit picker to find his brother who has taken off with their hard-earned money. Without spoiling it too much, all I can say is that it has an interesting ending in that money doesn't always buy you happiness and that homegrown ingenuity can sometimes pay with dividends (you'll see what I mean when you watch the movie).

Anyway, it was neat to watch it with a Samoan audience as I could hear people bursting out in laughter at times with the various antics that Tofiga brought in his comedy acting and when things that we Samoan know about - we'd laugh at.

A movie that I would recommend for those who like Tofiga and Samoan-Kiwi comedy or who just want to go out and spend time together with family for some light-hearted humour with still some lessons about how money can't buy happiness and that looking after your family is best...

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Malu ink and watercolour study...

Malu: pencil/ink and watercolour study (HFT 2019)
I'm currently loving this space to be able to study the malu patterns and meanings as with this first pencil/ink drawing and then replicating in watercolours.

Each icon that has been indelibly etched on skin from time immemorial and each tell a story about the harmonious relationships that faaSamoa through the tufuga tatau (master tattoo artists) had with the natural environment.

So much so, that in my earlier research I found out that our earlier ancestors venerated various natural creatures etc. and so that when the early missionaries came to Samoa they were surprised that there weren't any carvings like there were for many other Pacific Islands cultures. And now the only little known altar space of that time is known as the 'House of the Fee' or o le fale o le fee.

In fact, in many villages, the pe'a, malu, malofie etc. were banned by the missionaries or in the very least frowned upon. I know that I was told by my mother that my great grandmother banned her sons from having this and in honour of keeping her wish, I won't be getting a malu except for the one that already exists on my hand that wasn't done by a traditional tufuga or in Samoa, in keeping with her wishes (retrospectively).

Still, in learning to understand the intent of each icon, it gives me a better understanding and a way of regenerating the ideas for the next generation and lifting the tapu (taboo) in this age in a respective manner that understands the mana (supernatural prestige) of this time honouring artistic appreciation on skin and still giving reverence to our ancestors whose stories continue through to this day...



Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Tapa/siapo study with watercolours...

First study of Siapo/Tapa study suing Watercolours
I'm loving this new journey that I'm taking in Indigenous Art at Te Wananga o Aotearoa (level 3). I've been able to learn how to use watercolours as I've never quite understood the use of it in my earlier attempts but in having a neat teacher to help me sort out the techniques - well I'm simply loving it.

In high school I learnt to use oil paints as a medium and absolutely loved the way that it flowed onto canvas but the only trouble was that there was a lot of prep to do in working with oils which is why I switched to acrylics for my book art at it was a lot easier to use and wash up afterwards.

So now in that, I've figured out how to master shading much like in using colour pencils, (another one of my favourite mediums) I'm now using Watercolours to explore how I can use it with our next book on tatau or traditional Samoan tattooing as watercolour paper has similar properties to tapa cloth.

And in studying patterns used early tapa/siapo cloths, each panel is quite interesting as geometric shapes are used from environmental inspiration to build up art on some amazing tapa cloths. Some of the panels refer to stars, or plants and even shells or patterns that repeat themselves with a postive/negative effect.

In fact, I have a treasured piece that my mother gave to me when I was at University and I still hold it dear and when my beloved and I were married in Fiji in 2001, we were gifted with a Fijian tapa cloth as a remembrance token of our special time there. Fijian tapa designs are quite unique too in that their symbols and art work identify different symbols and colour work in their pieces.

Now looking forward to start working on the tatau/tattoo book as it has been a few years in the making from the thinking process, to the indigenous research that has gone into writing the text and now to work on the paintings, a real blessed space to be in with more to come...


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Happy Fathers' day to our special dads...

Happy Father's day to all our special dad's out there and especially to my very special father who is now in his 80s and currently here with my mum on holiday from Samoa.

And it was very special to have my cousin/sister Lita and her children visit with us at my birth church as we accompanied my parents to church and then went to a shared Fathers' day lunch.

It was also a very special day as I became an elder of the church and it was my gift for my dad as it was something that has been very dear to his heart for a long time.

In fact, over 16 mature elders are no longer able to continue with serving as in their old age things are becoming more difficult for them and most of them, like my father, have been faithfully serving within the church for many years. So the question was asked for others to come forward and I was approached to consider in having supported my father over the years. It definitely wasn't an easy decision as my family has other considerations but for now, I believe that it is the right thing to do.

And in the service, I couldn't stop the tears in realising the many years of service that he has given to the church i.e. over 50+ years and still going strong as he was one of the founding father of the church when it was just a dream and now there is a church for Cook Islanders, Niueans and Samoans with a church and 3 halls.

My father has always had a very good work ethic and taught me about organizing, public speaking and to not be afraid of anything. He even believed in me even when I wasn't so sure myself. It didn't mean that we didn't have our differences but I learned to be respectful and talk through a lot of things with him that now we share a very special bond.

 From my father, he taught me to be considerate and never doubted my abilities in whatever I wanted to pursue and it's been neat to see them settle into their new home in Samoa which was a gift from above. So a very happy fathers' day to you all and I thank God for the blessing of good fathers...

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Last meeting for Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel term 2017 - 2019...

Yesterday was my last meeting with the awesome 'Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel' for the Auckland Council. We've been together for a three-year term since 2017.

It's been a neat journey in meeting monthly together as a group, getting to know each other and in learning about the new initiatives within Council and also in giving advice from the different Pasifika life experiences that we've had in various sectors of community and society.

Within our group, our Pasifika heritages hail from Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu and we formerly had Niuean representation but the individual moved overseas but hopefully, the next panel will have more representation from our various Pasifika communities.

The neat thing though is that despite our different backgrounds of being either born in NZ or overseas, at the heart of the matter was speaking out for issues that mattered for Pasifika people i.e. housing, employment, education, equity and access to Council amenities and ensuring that our Pasifika communities would not disadvantaged through the various initiatives that are at play and particularly housing.

For those of us Pasifika peoples who have received tertiary education, who are civic-minded or have Christian heritages that encourage us to support our fellow neighbours, I believe that it is really important to get involved at different levels of decision making in order to support our local Pasifika communities whether it be in church, education in schools, local/national government bodies, community organisations etc.

In doing so, it enables us to advocate for our Pasifika communities in different spheres. That's why I'm involved in local school Boards of Trustees, an upcoming Elder in a local Pacific Islands church, tertiary education in teaching and encouraging second chance learning with a view to position and encourage students to continue onto their Master's degree studies in order to meet the requirements of engaging Pasifika and Maori people as decision-makers in our society.

I know that the opportunities that have been gifted to me in life experiences have been due to the support of my Christian faith and family, and so it's been important for me to continue to mentor, encourage and support other Pasifika peoples who come in my life's path to do the same.

I'm going to miss this special group of people but looking forward to what the future might bring for the next panel and also for opportunities for Pasifika peoples to continue succeeding and moving forward through Auckland Council initiatives...

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

First Aid Certificate course online too ...

Last month, I had the opportunity of resitting my First Aid Intermediate certificate at my place of work with part of it being online and the other the practical component.

I think this is especially important to have when working in our communities with children as well as adults. As you can never know when an emergency might happen wherever you go.

It's something that I think is an important skill to have in that when I was working as a volunteer with Plunket when my children were babies, it was important that we were vigilant in that choking and other emergencies could happen whilst on our watch.

And in working with teens, being aware of assisting when someone has epilepsy and other medical conditions it's important to know about what to do.

That includes going on field trips and overnight stays as unexpected things have been known to happen and so I would definitely encourage this course for church members, school staff, community workers etc.

I've known over the years of people dying in churches through having heart attacks and even in schools/institutions etc. and even at home in knowing how to cope with or deal with beloved ones needing attention with stroke symptoms, angina etc.

It's also important to know where defibrillators are found for stopping and starting the heartbeat of one has suffered a heart attack etc. as every second counts before irreparable brain damage sets in or death becomes imminent.

In face, defibrillators are now being positioned in most public places where people congregate including shopping malls, swimming pools, tertiary institutions etc. I would definitely highly recommend for more of our community people to gain First Aid skills as you never know when you might need it... (renewable every two years)

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Malu Lima study artistry...

Malu Lima study (2019) Helen Tau'au Filisi
This would be the first and only Malu Lima ink study that I have drawn since starting my art class a few weeks ago and as a result, I've decided to frame it for posterity as a very limited edition artwork.

What I've liked about the Indigenous art space that I'm currently in is that it's allowed me time to consider some of the important art icons/motifs that our ancestors rendered in their time and it's now continued for new artists to reconsider.

What many people don't understand is that the tapa motifs and the malu (traditional Samoan women's tattoo), as well as the pe'a, malofie, soga'imiti (traditional Samoan male tattoo) all, have motifs, symbols or icons that each have a story and meaning behind them.

I've had the privilege, in this space, of having the time to consider what these motifs may have meant to the early arts, what current Samoan artists have considered and now for me to render with new contemporary medium i.e. water colour paints, here in ink and later in some larger paintings as new interpretations of these ancient art forms.

It's definitely a privilege to be afforded this time and space to study, research through tofa sa'ili and to be able to share with an interested audience this journey. So that in the coming weeks, I'll be posting up many new works of art, some that I will be gifting, others that will be set apart for another day to ponder the wonder of our ancestral art iconology for future generations to continue...


Friday, 23 August 2019

Watching the movie 'Overcomer'...

Tonight, I had another girls night out and got the chance to watch the movie 'Overcomer' which is the fourth movie installation by the Kendrick brothers film company. The first three movies being: Fireproof, Courageous, War Room with initial preceding movies 'Flywheel' and 'Facing the Giants'.

It's a Christian faith-based movie that tells the story about a community which is losing people as they move out of town to find other work opportunities due to a big manufacturing firm closing. In fact, the basketball coach at the local high school ends up coaching a cross country running team with only one runner and it's her story that the movie centres on.

What I liked about the movie is that it discusses the reconciliation between a father who had formerly been a drug addict who is dying in hospital and his estranged younger daughter who is a cross country runner and also asthmatic.

The overcoming theme is neat in that it encourages ideas of forgiveness, reconciliation, striving towards a goal and succeeding. A highly recommended family film for all ages...


Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Attending the Koroneihana celebrations ...

Inside the Marae performance space (Photo credits: Louise Craig-Pullan)
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the annual 13th coronation celebrations of the Kingitanga with Maori King Tuheitea at their Ngaruawahia marae.

When four van loads of adult students arrived on the scene, we all dispersed and soaked in the atmosphere of kapa haka (Maori dance/songs) performances for the king, local Maori food stalls and jewelry stalls etc. with sports challenges for organised teams to tow.

It was a very interesting experience as it was the very first time that I had ever attended such an event in being aware in working within an indigenous Maori space of this annual event that many Maori staff attended over the years.

There I watched parts of a doco of the former Maori Queen Te Atarangikaahu (mother to the current King) who reigned for over 40 years and died in 2006. There, I learned about the Kingitanga movement was set up as a form of resistance to the crown and to unify Maori but some iwi (tribes) did not agree and still continue to alienate themselves from the movement.

As far as I'm aware, it's a celebration over several days that starts with dignitaries attending, followed by schools and kapa haka groups attending and performing over the weekend. On following days, people begin to bring taonga (treasures) in remembrance of those of whom have passed away during the year and in all that time, the kingitanga provide lunch and refreshments for visitors.

It's definitely an event that I would recommend for any to attend if given the opportunity and a way of paying our respects to an indigenous resistance movement, through their King/Queen: of the people, for the people, by the people...

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Art courses that continue to build in the journey...

This semester, I'm taking a new course here at Te Wananga o Aotearoa  which is a Certificate in Maori and Indigenous Art, level 1. In fact, in retrospect, I probably should have taken this course years ago when Dr Richard Cooper was the kaiako/tutor as a gifted and noted sculpture, painter and neat overall Maori artist.

As a picture book illustrator, taking this course has allowed me time to consider my craft and the different skills that can be utilised in order for my pictures to tell the story.

It definitely is a privilege to have this opportunity as in my class there are like-minded artists who are also interested in developing their crafts from a graphic designer, to commissioned Maori street artists, representing many different cultures from a Korean artist who travels from the North Shore, me being a Samoan interested in representing more indigenous Samoan art within my books and in my general art.

The first assignment that I'm currently working on looks at my whakapapa/gafa/genealogy links and connections. I'm also to choose an artist that I respect and that would be my mother who has been my inspiration in a lot of the crafting, sewing, knitting etc. that she brought me up with.

The other noted artist is Fatu Feu'u of whom I've always respected as a gifted artist. I've like his use of Samoan iconology in his art works of the past and I also see that he has a current exhibition that is showing in Auckland of which I'm considering to attend.

All in all, this is another exciting journey for me which is a never-ending journey of living and learning and passing it on...

Friday, 9 August 2019

Cook Islands language week celebrations for 2019...

Cook Islands language week official post for 2019
Kia orana, it's been Cook Islands language week and it's been so neat to note the different celebrations that have been about in various communities and throughout social media highlighting the importance of the Cook Islands languages, cultures and music/entertainment etc.

It's definitely overdue for me and my family to visit the Cook Islands as I last visited it in the 1990s and with having grown up at the PIC church in having a village community of Niuean, Cook Islanders and Samoans worshipping together with English being the main language of intercultural communication, it made for a very interesting childhood surrounded by music, languages and sounds that became familiar but were not of my own cultural heritage.

So I got to taste puke (a banana delicacy with coconut cream), Cook Islands mayonnaise (i.e. potato salad) and especially the pink beetroot version, cook islands donuts that are sold locally and often taken on trips as a snack including the giant donuts etc. Not to mention their amazing lyrical ukuleles and amazing voices in the meke and tivaevae - Cook Islands quilts which replaced the tapa making with the arrival of the missionaries etc.

Which is why it's so important for having an understanding of the distinctions between the various Pacific cultures and even within the Cook Islands as each of the 15 islands have distinct dialects or languages, cultural practices etc. Pukapuka being closer to Samoa and Tonga with Aitutaki being of the islands that I would love to visit.

Perhaps what Cook Islands culture is known all over the world for is not only their amazing tranquil beach scenes but also their drum dance with their women expertly moving their hips vigously to the sound of the drums and their men dancing with unfamiliar leg movements to the novice.

It's definitely entertaining to watch unfamiliar and unsuspecting adults from other cultures being called up to dance by an expert dance partner from the opposite sex in their entertaining 'around the world' drum dance whereupon each couple is asked to dance in the middle of a dance circle to the sound of the drums. So if you haven't experienced this, I would highly recommend it.

Happy Cook Islands language week everybody. Meitaki (thank you)...

Thursday, 8 August 2019

NCEA Changes in the pipeline...

Last night, I attended an NCEA (National Certificate of Achievement) Ministry of Education update at a local school called 'Understanding the changes to NCEA.'

It turns out that after a big Review of NCEA there are 7 main changes to the National Qualification as follows:
  1. Making NCEA more accessible which means zero fees
  2. Giving Maori knowledge more authenticity and resourcing (this may also include Pasifika)
  3. having fewer and larger standards i.e. of 60 credits minimal rather than the current 20 credits
  4. strengthening literacy and numeracy requirements
  5. simplifying the NCEA structure
  6. showing clearer pathways to employment or further education
  7. keeping NCEA Level 1 as an option (up to each individual school to consider)
It was a very interesting conversation by Ministry of Education representatives and although there has been much planning and discussion, there's still a long way to go before full implementation by the year 2023.

Currently, our eldest child is just about to complete her final year of high school and gaining high grades in her NCEA subjects is foremost in her mind with intended courses that she's hoping to apply for and gain admission to in the new year at various Universities.

Therefore, gaining important credits in her final year is key to gaining entry into those courses and especially those that are restricted in numbers such as law school, conjoint degrees etc. I think the intended changes may allow for some room to move and relieve some pressure for future students but it will be the universities that will have the biggest say in what they will accept for those intending to attend Universities.

Still it will be up to the individual to make those final efforts to gain qualifications to get to the places that they are reaching for. I just hope that more Pasifika students will take those opportunities to make important and significant contributions to society no matter whether they decide to further their studies or not...


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

'Hobbs and Shaw - Fast and Furious' Samoan stylez...

It was interesting to watch the highly anticipated 'Hobbs and Shaw - Fast and Furious' movie starring Samoan/African American, Dwayne Johnson and Englishman, Jason Stathom. To be honest, It wasn't so much for the action-packed scenes of high adrenalin not to mention octane content but it was on a research mission to see how much content/context there was of Samoa having seen social media alerts of the up and coming movie featuring Samoa.

Sorry some spoiler alerts coming, so if you'd rather watch the movie first, then read no further! What's funny is to see a fellow Samoan on the movies (as his mum's Samoan) and Dwayne Johnson's character is a kind portrayal of having family values, family problems and a keen sense of humour, plus loads of personality as I know a lot of Samoan males and females have.

So when the scene of saving the world ends up in lil' old Samoa, I anticipated which side of Samoa that they might feature. Well, it wasn't to be as it looked more like the rugged high coast line of Hawaii that I had viewed over the years that I've visited the Hawaiian islands.

It was neat that they had a Maori actor play the elder brother (Cliff Curtis) of Dwayne's Hobb's character even though I thought that perhaps they could have gotten Roman Reigns to have played the part as he definitely would have looked more believable but still Cliff Curtis pulled off the accent pretty well.

The character that plays his mum did pretty good as she reminded me of many of my matriarchal mum's, aunts, grandmas etc. wearing a mu'umu'u (long island dress), wearing a selu (Samoan ladies comb), and a turtle-like bangle, with that 'don't mess with me' instructional voice and holding the jandal poised to through (seeing this when I was growing up) and maybe I've got some of those kick-ass traits in having had some of those genes handed on to me through my mums, grandmothers, great grandmother etc.

Definitely, recommended for those high adrenalin junkies who really enjoy action movies with Dwayne Johnson and some spices of Samoana...


Sunday, 4 August 2019

Ihumatao - Pania in the past meeting the present...

Early days in protecting Ihumatao
Much has changed with King Tuheitea (Kingitanga movement) becoming involved at Ihumatao but some things remain the same. I first met Pania Newton, the co-leader of SOUL Save our unique landscape out at Ihumatao in 2016. I had just started teaching an Indigenous Research paper and at our local Wananga (Maori higher learning institute) and wanted to learn more about why the land at Ihumatao needed protecting. 

Pania was gracious and shared with me and later my class/es about why this whenua was important to preserve and also the tragic historical background of how the land came out from mana whenua (designated indigenous people of the land) hands to being sold to Fletchers, a corporate that is ready to build 480 houses on this designated land.

At that time she made a commitment then that she would stand as Kaitiaki (guardian) of the whenua (land) that was taonga (treasure) to her whakapapa (genealogy) with many of her whanau (family) with other supporters. That commitment is unwavering despite the death of her father last year of whom I was privileged to meet in one of the classes that I took and despite the flack that she has received from some Maori leaders (some of whom she is related to).

In 2017, I received a grant from Mangere Otahuhu Arts funding on behalf of the Mangere Otahuhu local board to edit a book called 'Mana Mangere Voices' and I asked Pania if she would be able to be one of those voices that needed to be heard. Pania graciously agreed and also wrote the mihi (acknowledgments) at the beginning of our collection of short stories and poems.

This is her voice, her poem for the legacy of her late father, of her tipuna/tupuna (ancestors), for her future whanau to continue...

He mamae-aroha mo Ihumaatao

A historic place slowly defaced by toxic, industrial and sewage waste.

A historic reserve for us to preserve but yet we learn it will soon be yearned.

How can it be that corporate creed is put above the needs of both you and me?

As this sacred place, a cultural basis is threatened by the replacement of sprawls of disgrace.

So sad to see, for the generations to come, that the beauty of our landscapes will be destroyed and plundered for the profit of some.

E tu, maranga, whaiwhai mo te whenua.


by Pania Newton (2017)





Friday, 2 August 2019

Toy Story 4 another ending...

Last night, it was a girl's night out and we went to see Toy Story 4 having followed the story since my children were young. Turn's out, it leaves you with an alternative ending and without spoiling the movie for you, I think some would like it and some might not.

Over the years, the storylines developed the characters with Tom Hanks being the voice of Woody, the cowboy toy leader and Tim Allen is the voice of Buzz Light the friend who starts off as a foe. I remember when the first movie came out that it was new for its time and people flocked to see the new technology at play.

Now with the fourth installation, the storyline has continued but with the inclusion of the missing toy Bo Peep and her sheep (she was in the first movie) and Woody's love interest. In this last installation (although you never know as they might continue it as the never-ending Star Wars movie saga) Bo Beep reminds me of Laura Croft (Tomb Raider heroine) who knows a thing or two about survival.

She helps to give an alternative life to toys who no longer get played with, in that they go off and make their own adventures. It's an interesting philosophy in the life story of a toy that's shared on-screen that makes one really think about what toys might say if it were possible.

So I would recommend the movie for the laughs and in reuniting with the cast for their possible final movie but get ready for an alternative ending that might have you say 'yay' or you might even say 'nay', no way Jose ...

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

The importance of land, fanua (Samoan), whenua (Maori)...

The deck out back of our house in Fasito'o-uta facing the sea
 As I reflect upon my short time with our families in Samoa having returned last week, I can't help but be supportive of those who are fighting for their lands here in Mangere, Ihumatao (New Zealand) and in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Although they have different issues, the principles are the same of indigenous peoples standing as protectors of land that is sacred and/or is significant or important to them through generations of occupation where placentas, battles, burials, cultivation, livelihood etc. have occurred on the land over centuries.

However, over the years this stance has been termed and storied by the media as angry protestors protesting often against government regulations be it pertaining to the use of lands or waterways etc. This has divided many communities with the idea of protesting being a force of resistance against political powers.

For me, since working within an indigenous organization and learning to understand indigenous research, I've come to understand the Maori concept of kaitiakitanga which means guardianship or being guardians of lands, waterways etc. and that often this does not equate with ownership which is why the term protectors from an indigenous perspective is more accurate description of the stance that they are taking.

That's because from an indigenous perspective it is our responsibility to look after the environment that has been passed down to us with ancient stories, often called legends or myths from a western perspective, but in my research as a geographer (those many years ago) in Samoa, those stories weren't seen as myths at all but as historical stories that tell the histories of the environments personified often as living beings.

That was why I began recording our Samoan stories to be shared with our next generations to preserve those histories and now have shared them with the world in books as important stories that document the histories of environments.

And as indigenous peoples take the stance of trying to protect the environments from further development or desecration, they are also taking a stance to protect the stories of those environments so that the ancient stories can continue to be told and understand to the next generations...


Thursday, 25 July 2019

The fight over indigenous lands in Ihumatao....

Standing in solidarity with our Ihumatao whanau (extended family)
Yesterday I went out to Ihumatao with my lil' sister to support the group out at Ihumatao. It is certainly a very difficult land issue as there are many perspectives to this block of land and it has a long history that I've learnt about over the years.

Over the past couple of years, I've taken my classes out there to listen to Pania Newton, their leader and to have an understanding of what happened historically.

This year I joined up with another class for our students to learn about the history and the importance of the land from a kaitiaki (Maori guardianship) perspective in anticipation that this would be happening soon as the corporate group would be getting pressure from their own senior managers to act on the development monies that had already been assigned to developing the 480 houses that are planned for the land.

Why this is important is that there are spiritual connections and aspects to the land and important stories of the voyaging and settlement of this particular are that I never learned about as a Geography major back at Auckland University and even with a Masters degree in Geography it didn't at all mention or even grapple with the notions of spiritual connections with whenua (land) for a lot of indigenous cultures.

So much so that I've since learned that when indigenous people lose their lands through shady deals, corruption or it is forcibly taken (stolen through legal means by a colonizing government or power) etc. there are spiritual repercussions upon the indigenous peoples of the lands. You just have to read through reports of places all over the world where indigenous peoples have been restricted to reservations or spaces in which they don't have spiritual connections to to see that it is quite damaging, dispossessing and cuts at the heart of indigenous peoples.

There are now academic writings about indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from their lands and begin to suffer trauma, much like what's happening at Ihumatao where there are young Maori people fighting for their lands to remain as they are but the trauma of having a police raid, made to look like angry protestors and corporate developers saying that it is legally there corporate lands, although historically it was stolen from mana whenua (original peoples of that particular land) and given or sold to white settlers at the time.

That's why I'm encouraged and encouraging people who know of the importance of what these young people and old are fighting for to unite and meet up at Ihumatao. My only proviso is not to get arrested as my beloved in still in Samoa and I have a noho Marae on the weekend but as a Uni student this is what we did to support those who were guardians of important things to us.

If you are interested follow the Ihumatao social media links, subscribe to their email to keep up to date as it is now day 3 in the occupation or protest and it may get ugly before any formal resolution can be made.

Just like with Maunga Kea in Hawaii which is now into it's 7th day of protesting. The fight is international over valuing the proper of use of land for indigenous peoples is very real...

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The Lion King movie...

Tonight my family went to watch the highly anticipated, Disney's newest from animation to real live-action movie and were interested in the results. For me, I wanted to see what would happen to the original story because when it first came out in the 1980s, it was an epic movie that was the first of it's kind that I'd ever seen at the time.

However, after we watched it, it was interesting to compare thoughts about the movie in how it carefully followed the original storyline and scenes to a tee in some parts and added scenes in others. In my opinion, the realistic scenery with its natural beauty was well designed but somehow the facial expressions of the animals showing emotions didn't translate as well.

There were also a couple of iconic scenes from the original missing i.e. when Rafiki (the baboon) hits Sima on the head with a stick and the tropical drag song which was quite funny in the original was also missing.

And with Beyonce playing Nala, the song that she sang wasn't iconic for me as the original and they also added another song that felt quite foreign to the film that wasn't in the original. All in all, I had mixed feelings that there were some nice moments and I'd still highly recommend the movie for the next generations...

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Samoa sites and sounds...

The iconic Clock tower in Apia
We always enjoy our times in Samoa, especially during the holiday week/s when we can refresh, catch up with our beloved families in the motherland, inhale the Samoan lifestyle and for some (like me) it's a great excuse to exhale and detox from work-life stress or other hindrances that help us to forget to relax and enjoy life.

These holidays we went to visit my parents and their/our new family home and also to celebrate a significant birthday with my beloved's mother in Samoa.

I think the celebrations in Samoa are always funnier, entertaining and just so 'Samoan' with lots of laughter, fun and smiles all around.

The food is always refreshing and tastes so much more flavoursome with fresh ingredients not usually from a can (although there are a lot of canned goods to choose from).

We loved our 'oka' (raw fish in coconut cream), taro, breadfruit (especially smoked), pawpaw, fish, seafood delicacies like limu (tiny balled clusters of seaweed) and pork (often plentiful at celebrations) with so much fresh fruit produce a tropical chefs delight.

And watching the South Pacific games (on TV) there was entertaining too especially listening to some of the Samoan commentaries i.e. the boxing competition commentary was especially entertaining. Not to mention watching the highly anticipated 100m, 200m track and the final 4 x 100-metre relay that brought Samoa so many silver medals.

A highly recommended holiday break and recharge for families or just the intrepid journeyer. Although I must say that Samoa must have so many cars per capita as whenever we go there there's always road works happening with peak hour traffic - never a dull moment...


Saturday, 13 July 2019

Spiderman - Far from home movie 2019 review...

These holidays, if you're feeling bored and want to take the kids out to see a movie that has a low key adventure and an interesting storyline then I'd recommend the latest 'Spiderman - Far from home' movie that I took my kids to watch a couple of nights ago.

And if you're an 'Avengers' movie fan then this movie continues the story after 'Tony Stark' has died in the last long 3-hour movie saga story previous to this movie (this will make sense to Avengers fans) and explains what's happened in the interim.

I enjoyed relaxing into the story and having Zendaya as the lead actress was neat in seeing a woman of colour take a lead role in the movie franchise story. Although with this storyline who knows what will happen next as there's a question posed in the story as to who will take over the Tony Starks void that has been left behind.

But I'll leave that to the next Marvel movie franchise storyline to reveal in the not too distant future...




Friday, 12 July 2019

Aotea Square with Auckland City sights to see these school holidays...

Aotea Square in Auckland City near the Night Markets
It was neat to take my youngest two out to town for some movies and a bite to eat on this the first week of their holidays before we fly out to Samoa on the weekend.

What was neat to view on our way to the Queen Street Cinema was the Night Markets outside the Aotea Centre packed with mostly Asia foods and places to sit, talk and eat.

Because we live out in the suburbs, we don't venture out to the city much with the crazy car parking costs (free out in the suburbs) and the packed motorway that doesn't really seem worth the effort after an hour often stuck in traffic.

However, it was just nice to go into town in reminiscent of how I'd spent 5 years in town attending Auckland Uni (as it was known then) in my late teens, early twenties and working on Queen Street as a Uni student whilst studying.

That's another reason why I'm the preferred driver when we drive into town and now currently attending meetings at the Town Hall for Auckland Councils Pacific Advisory Panel with our term set to end in the next couple of months.

There were some light features on trees nearby in the Aotea square and the Town Hall was lit up with some laser light art. Definitely, nothing to compare with the large scale laser lights show in Sydney (Darling Harbour and surrounding Opera House etc.) that we witnessed a few years ago but still neat to see.

Alternatively, people were also ice skating in the rink with lots of eateries close by if wanting a little bit more than market foods. I was actually surprised at how many people were out and about in the chilly evening as we were.

Afterwards, it was nice to drive back home at a leisurely pace with no traffic congestion at night and away from the hustle and bustle of city life and looking forward to Samoa...

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Nothing beats the open museum of being in Samoa...

Samoan artefacts on display in Auckland War Memorial Museum
Last weekend, I was a driver for my beloved's class field trip to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and although I have been a few times over the past few years with my class, there's always something new to view or to learn about.

We all went to see the Pacific section with the various Pacific Islands artefacts on display and although there were many symbols of Samoan culture, the displays don't quite capture the vibrancy of the culture and the intricacies of learning faaSamoa.

So although it is always interesting to learn something new from the artefacts I'd say that the best way of understanding and learning about Samoa is not from books and Museums (although they do have a place in society) but travelling there and experiencing the culture, the food, scenery, faaSamoa in action etc. nothing beats the open museum of experience in Samoa.

And that's why we hope to continue taking our children on regular trips to Samoa, to learn where their ancestors, grandparents and parent (dad) were born, to taste the foods, meet our families, experience village life and learn about things that they wouldn't otherwise learn about whilst living in New Zealand.

I thank my parents and also my beloved's family for giving us this space to share with our children as it is such a privilege in knowing that there are many diaspora (overseas living) Samoans who no longer have connections to family in Samoa or homes to visit and instead stay at resorts (although often it is the preferred option).

I'm so thankful to God that we have a home in Samoa in the village of Fasitoo-uta that we can now connect with as well as our families in the various other villages that we visit upon our travels. Being able to stay in the village, speaking Samoan to our families whilst visiting and experiencing the lifestyle which is quite different to Auckland is always humbling.

Visiting the open museum of Samoa rather than a museum display of Samoan artefacts wins every time...


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

South Pacific Games 2019 - Hosted by Samoa...

The South Pacific Games 2019 is hosted by Samoa from 7 - 20 July with the Opening Ceremony having been completed only a couple of days ago. In fact, I only found out today that Tonga had won the right to host the games but then gave notice a couple of years ago that they wouldn't be able to fulfil their responsibility therefore, Samoa was voted in by the committee and had 18 months to pull it together and organise the games for what has now been hailed as one of the best-coordinated games so far.

There are 24 nations (including NZ and Australia but on a smaller scale) competing in 27 sporting events including some 5,000 competitors and team officials who've travelled to Samoa especially seeking medal wins. We're looking forward to heading out there in a few days to see if we can check out a few of the events whilst we are in Samoa.

Unfortunately, we missed watching the torch-bearing runners before the games and the main opening ceremony but you are able to watch it on YouTube if missed. New Zealand has also committed to showing some of the sports on it's Sky Sports Pop Up 3 channel which will be the first time that NZ has offered this to NZ viewers.

My beloved offered that he had competed in the 1983 games as a distance runner that was held in Samoa with only 15 member nations at that time. In that year Samoa came second in the medals tally beaten only by New Caledonia and if you view the medal tally to date, New Caledonia is already leading with 8 gold medals thus far.

But it's not always about winning and instead also about experiencing another cultural space as many tourists, competitors and officials alike will be converging on Samoa, as my family will be soon, to experience what makes Samoa similar but also unique in the South Pacific Islands nations. Sometimes termed as the jewel of the Pacific or cradle of the Pacific.

And our countdown to Samoa begins (only 4 more sleeps!)...



Saturday, 6 July 2019

'Carried away' Auckland Museum's newest exhibition on now...

Today, I accompanied my beloved's class (as one of the drivers) to transport his class to Auckland War Memorial museum. I was quite interested because I had attended earlier in the year and I had heard about a new exhibition about bags that was one show.

This particular exhibition is interesting as I remember how mother, sister and I made different types of bags growing up and I wondered which ones they would be exhibiting in the different styles over the years.

I remember my mum making a crocheted bag for me to take to church with a drawstring tie that was white. I also remembered how she made a diamond shaped needle point-type work on plastic templates that were later sewn together but I haven't seen any of those around.

And as teenage girls, I remember sewing tote bags out of denim as well as sewing a round tote bag. There were also the shoulder length leather bags that we took to church as children and I also remember a round woven plastic pink bag that I got one year.

I would definitely recommend going to see this exhibition called 'carried away' as it does have some traditional woven bags as well as synthetic and innovate bags that might bring back memories as it definitely did for me...
New exhibition at Auckland War Memorial Museum

Monday, 1 July 2019

He Waiata Matariki - Matariki song...

In having worked at Te Wananga o Aotearoa for several years now, I'm come to enjoy singing waiata (Maori songs) which are often so melodic with lovely harmonies (that I bring from my Samoan choir days) that I find myself humming them or playing the tunes on the guitar.

This is one such waiata that I'm learning with my class as we celebrate Matariki which is the Maori new year usually around July when a cluster of nine stars (or seven when the other two aren't seen) in the sky.

The Matariki cluster of stars or constellation is known by other names in the Northern Hemisphere such as the Pleiades and each of the stars has a different name. What I find so fascinating as when I hear the names of the stars and the stories behind them, I know that it is knowledge that would have spanned centuries of observation and understanding that would have been passed down the generations.

Which brings to bear that a lot of knowledge was suppressed during the time of early colonisation and that now there is a renaissance of reclaiming knowledge that was almost lost in time for a new generation to learn from.

I'm only just starting to touch on the amazing knowledge of the stars that would have possibly been common knowledge back in the time of my ancestors' several generations from the present. So that now when I look up into the night sky, especially in Samoa or American Samoa, the night sky is much clearer and I know that it was a map that was used to navigate to different destinations islands in the Pacific.

So that as we sing this song and celebrate this new season, I am reminded that my ancestors lived at a time when the stars shone brightly and told their own stories, quite alike to the story of Jesus Christ's birth whereupon a star was the signpost that something new was happening and the wise men followed the star to rest upon the place where the child was born.

I am so grateful to be born at such a time as this as to be able to learn and share these stories that make us unique and grateful also that my ancestry relates back to a time when they were environmentally friendly and had amazing knowledge of the natural world around them...



Friday, 28 June 2019

Date with daughter at Denny's...

Denny's Restaurant New Lynn
Yesterday got to spend some time with our middle child i.e. mother/daughter time at Dennys which happens to be our fave family restaurant for desserts, downtime or celebrating.

With the upcoming weekend ball season and our eldest busy sorting out all the requirements of making it special in it being the last ball as a senior in high school, it gave me some time to reflect on how quickly time goes by and before you know it, our children become adults and then have families of their own.

So having a special time to check on how things are or to just hang out provides special memories going forward and a time to chill and take time out of busy schedules to reconnect. It's especially important with teens both male and female to check in and see how things are going instead of assuming that all is well.

Thinking of making this time even more regular as we do with church attendance, attending regular work meetings, occasional family meetings and other meetings that we often can 'park' our families needs to fulfil other commitments that often aren't that important.

Now looking forward to scheduling these in for my children and showing appreciation for all that we learn as a family...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Viewing the Vunilangi Vou art space in Otahuhu...

Front store at the new Vunilagi Vou art gallery/space in Otahuhu
Last week, I was able to view 'Vunilagi Vou' new art gallery/space in Otahuhu with an amazing wahine toa (strong woman) Ema Tavola, the curator and artist who is of Fijian heritage and has curated many exhibitions in Auckland and also overseas with a lot of insight into the Pasifika art scene.

It was neat to take some of my family members to view the inaugural exhibition of some 13 Pasifika artists with different styles and backgrounds, the materials used and their perspectives.

It was neat to also see the space and future planning for possible group exhibitions in the space and for bringing our communities into the space to share art ideas. For those wanting to view the art gallery, it's at 4/256 Great South Road, Otahuhu out in South Auckland.

What's so neat about this new initiative is that it's very grassroots and within the Pasifika niche community of Otahuhu and having a conversation with Ema further confirmed the information of a space for new, emerging and seasoned artists who would like to exhibit within the space.

If you're wanting to know more about the artspace and art gallery, check out the website on: www.vunilagivou.com ...


Sunday, 23 June 2019

Tonga vs Kiwis @ Mt Smart Stadium...

It's been interesting to watch the massive Tongan support for their National Tongan Rugby League team here in Auckland over the last couple of years. In fact, on the weekend when I went with my family to view a new Art Gallery in Otahuhu, in the main shopping area, a huge presence of police were there as the weekend began with festivities in the anticipated matchup between the Tongans and the Kiwis (although there is a police station there).

With Otahuhu being the HQ Headquarters during the last couple years with the Rugby League world cup and other featured rugby/league matches, it's been interesting to see how many Tongans have displayed National pride in supporting their National team/s on mass.

I think it all started four years ago with the Rugby world cup and supporters displaying the Tongan flag/s on their cars but then it went up another level with cars beeping up and down Otahuhu main street with upcoming games and congregating on mass that last year the Otahuhu main street was cordoned off to traffic with concerns that a few hooligans were spoiling it for the many.

And now you are able to 'spot the Tongan' house, car or person resplendent with red (and white) Tongan flags donning houses, outside car windows (often waving) or red Tshirts, hats, shoes, Sweatshirts and even dresses, pants and wigs, and not forgetting the face paint.

And last night's match was no exception when Tongan supporters travelled on mass to support their beloved team decked out what has been coined "the sea of red" something that mainstream NZ is now becoming accustomed to.

"Malo au pito" (thank you) Tonga for showing NZ what it means to show solidarity and pride for your Pasefika nation. Although the game wasn't won on the field, it was won in the hearts and minds of Tongans who participated in supporting their team and there's always next year... (or the Rugby World cup upcoming)...

Friday, 21 June 2019

Dancing with the Stars 2019 Champion - Manu Vatuvei...


This last Sunday I watched the finale of 'Dancing with the Stars' 2019. Having always loved dance and music from a young age in learning cultural dance: Cook Islands, Niue, Maori, Samoan and contemporary in growing up in church and sometimes in high school, it was so refreshing to see Manu Vatuvei win the total prize.

For those of us who've been brought up in a community where dance and music is an expression of what we enjoy: be it in cultural dance, or expressive dance in church or at Socials or Disco dances (which used to be big in the 1970s - 1980s) or enjoying music and dance at home, or at birthdays, weddings etc. It was such a joy to watch Manu having a great time and even showing a few tears of vulnerability along the way.

In fact, I enjoyed his performances as a Pacific (Tongan) man expressing his joy through dance that I had to vote for him, a few times, in order to hopefully secure his position as the most favoured dancer of the season and also to support his fundraising charity which was 'Kids Can'. So fitting for what he accomplished.

It's sad in that often people think that ballroom dancing is for sissies, but when you see Manu's effortless dancing you get to understand that it actually takes a lot of coordination, listening to instructions, learning the moves and telling a story through expressing in movements and showing emotions and that's why Manu won my vote plus the fact that he was a great role model for males in dancing.

But I mustn't take away from his dance partner who really honoured him through sharing their beautiful choreography and breathtaking moves although I'm not sure that I'd feel very comfortable if my husband danced so close to another woman as they do on the show but I guess that's that nature of the dance.

So again, congratulations to 'the beast' in Rugby League but a beauty in dancing and all the best to the Tongan Rugby team tomorrow as they play again the Kiwi's. May the best team win!


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Ration Challenge (Refugee Box) 2nd year ...

The contents of my Ration challenge food for 7 days
The Ration Challenge is on again from 16 - 23 June and I'm on Day 3 after having a cleanse day on the first and then having crepes yesterday.

This is my second year of taking a week out of my normal routine and only eating the contents out of a box that would normally be supplied to refugees all over the world.

Whilst doing this, people can post on social media and seek sponsorship for the organization to fund many initiatives out there for refugees who often aren't able to fend for themselves due to dire or difficult situations.

The idea of the Ration challenge started in 2014 when two friends raised money for refugees with the challenge which then started off in Australia, the following year, with many taking up the challenge to support. Since 2016, NZ became a partner with many taking up the challenge for the week-long ration challenge and it's sponsored by an organization called 'Act for Peace' which is an International Aid Agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

The 7-day box of supplies (that you have to purchase) consists of:
  1. Dried Lentils: 170g
  2. Vegetable Oil: 250ml
  3. White Rice: 1920g
  4. Plain Flour: 400g
  5. Tin of Sardines: 125g (or vegan/vegetarian alternative)
  6. Dried Chickpeas: 85g
  7. Red Kidney Beans tin: 400g
  8. (1 spice) as I was able to sponsor myself
This year I gave the challenge to my younger sister and so she joined my team and is also supporting it. If you would like to sponsor our efforts just jump on our page and sport our 'Pacific Hibiscus' team. https://my.rationchallenge.org.nz/helentauaufilisi  (highlight and click). It's also named after our organization 'Pacific Hibiscus' and feel free to ask any questions etc. or you might even want to give it a go or maybe plan for next year. 

It's feels like fasting (on my first day), going vegan and vegetarian (as I'm saving the sardines until the weekend) all at once. By the third day my I know I feel a little lighter plus I can probably tighten the belt a notch but definitely feels good to be doing something for others (Social enterprise at a micro scale).

Try it, you might even like it and it may be even good for you...

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Attending 'New Dawn' Pacific Social Enterprise Summit...

Credits: Pacific Business Trust's 'New Dawn' Pacific Social Enterprise Summit
Today I had the opportunity to attend the 'New Dawn' Pacific Social Enterprise Summit, courtesy of our Pacific Business Trust who was able to sponsor myself as Director of Pacific Hibiscus and other Pasifika businesses, or social enterprises, NGOs (Non-Government Organisations), creatives, community organisations or groups etc. to their inaugural summit towards encouraging more Social enterprises as a new direction forward for the Trust.

This is very exciting going forward for our communities. A couple of months ago when I first saw the ads, I must admit that I didn't really read it closely enough and thought that I wouldn't have the time or inclination to attend but upon reading the fine print, I realized that it was something that I was already doing (informally) and wanted to know more about formalizing the social enterprise side of our business.

John Pulu (Tongan) of 'Tagata Pasifika' (TV presenter) was the MC Master of Ceremonies for the day and day started with a Pasifika solo dance performance and then Ps Lui Ponifasio (Samoan) shared some reflections opening prayer for the commencement of the summit.

Faamatuainu Tino Pereira (Samoan/Pasifika business leader) started discussions with Hon. Aupito William Sio (Samoan/Minister for Pacific Peoples) adding his perspective from a governmental point of view. A global perspective of Social Enterprises was shared by Tara Singh, US speaker (Founding Chair of NEXUS) and Leata Alaimoana-Roberts (Samoan) discussed her work in Australia with Impact investments and the role social enterprises in the Pacific region.

At home, in New Zealand, Helene Malandain (French) discussed the work that her organization of Akina Foundation was doing in different regions. As a result, I found out that generally speaking, S.E. or Social Enterprise / Social Entrepreneurs were about businesses or organizations doing good in their communities and caring about the community wellbeing, sustainability, the environment etc.

It was great to see the work of a neat Christian couple: Emeline and Alipate Mafile'o (Tongan) who have done some neat work within our Pasifika communities with the mentoring programmes of Affirming Works and most recently Tupuanga Coffee and several Community Cafes scattered all around Auckland eg. Otahuhu Train station, Mangere Arts centre, etc.

There were many more speakers at breakout panels representing:

  1. Creative and Cultural
  2. Social and Health
  3. Finance, Employment and Tech
  4. Environment and Sustainability
Now looking forward visiting the Pacific Business Trust in the new future with its new vision of encouraging a Social Enterprising movement amongst our Pasifika businesses and organizations with a vision of supporting and caring for our people...



Sunday, 16 June 2019

www.worldcat.org - World Library Catalogue ...

World Library Catalogue -
a vast database of books in libraries around the world
Yesterday, I was inquiring (researching) into some different aspects of my writing, when I stumbled upon the World Library Catalogue website and started checking through to see where some of our books were placed in various libraries within NZ and overseas.

In an earlier blog, a couple of years ago, I came across this website and found it interesting to search through but didn't acquire a lot of information, however, this time I was quite intrigued by some of my findings.

As far as I am aware, the World Library Catalogue has a vast database of books that have been registered with their ISBN (International Standard Book Number) into their system in libraries around the world. You are then able to search for a particular book through their title/s etc. and see which libraries around the world that you are able to access them on. You are also able to find out how many kilometres/miles those libraries are away from your location.

It was a great pleasure to yesterday inform our Mana Mangere Writers Collective (we meet monthly) that our first book 'Mana Mangere Voices' (2017) had listings in various Auckland libraries, the University libraries of Auckland (of which I am an alumni of), University of Otago, MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology), the Alexander Turnbull National library in Wellington and the University of Hawaii at Manoa that I visited back in 2015.

For our second book 'Sense of belonging' (2018) copies were also found in Auckland libraries, The Universities of Auckland, Otago, Canterbury, as well as in Porirua (Wellington) public library, Alexander Turnbull and especially interesting was the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

In viewing the other books that I had written i.e. the Pasifika plays; poetry and short stories collections; the bilingual picture books, it was quite a privilege and interesting to see that Universities had picked up our books, in various locations nationally and internationally in perhaps recognizing the academic or research qualities behind the books, particularly of relating to indigenous principles and values in giving a voice to our cultures, ancestral knowledge, cultural knowledge and values etc.

So much so, that I found our 'Pacific Hibiscus' poetry book listed in Zentralbibliothek Zurick library in Switzerland, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Auckland, Canterbury Universities as well as Christchurch, Auckland and Porirua public libraries. With one of my plays 'Su'e the lost son' listed in the University of Essex, at Colchester, in the U.K.

With more writing and books to come, you never know where you might find your favourite Pasifika books listed in libraries nationally and around the world...

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Pacific Hibiscus - our Imprint name...

Imprint, Company name and Poetry collection
Several years before I began the journey into self-publishing, there were some iconic moments, that I recall, made me think that there was more to my thoughts than just a dream of becoming a writer.

From a very young age, I enjoyed reading stories about how other people lived. I also enjoyed drawing, painting and creating art, watching movies and learning about makes us tick.

By the time I started in my career as an educator, I believed that there was more to life than just being a teacher and kept walking in that direction.

Sometimes, I believe that the creator or our Atua (God) places within each heart, a dream, or a purpose to fulfil. As well as being a daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend etc. I feel that part of that purpose, for me, is being fulfilled in the books that we are currently considering, writing, planning and self-publishing for our readers.

What's it's taught me and that I want to share with many a down and out sad writer, passionless dreamer, tired mother, almost giving up student, frustrated friend etc. is to never give up. To keep walking towards that vision, that goal, that dream and to never lose sight of it.

You might want to become a dancer, an elite sportsperson, a business owner or creator or entrepreneur etc. whatever that dream might be, it's important to keep honing those skills, to stay within that field and broaden your knowledge, to begin to share your dream with other believers in you and to never lose faith.

For years, I kept knowing that I hadn't reached my goal and that "something's missing" as the 1980s song goes. And in the late 1990s, I started writing out my thoughts in creative journals, I wrote poetry, started storylines and years before our company was even birthed, the name 'Pacific Hibiscus' stayed within my mind for several years.

When I intrepidly started our company in 2015, I registered the name as Pacific Hibiscus and then a couple of years later, wrote a poetry collection and named it 'Pacific Hibiscus' in honour of the purpose that I was given and the journey as a female writer, hence the hibiscus flower as a feminine symbol and the word Pacific, from where I am from both in being born as a Samoan in New Zealand and being brought up with Maori, Samoans, Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tongans in my schooling life and in church.

Our Imprint name has special meaning to me and as we start to develop the vision even more, I thought it was important to stop, take stock, be thankful to God for the journey that started so many years ago and then continue to forge ahead to share this unfolding story with others who also have a dream and to encourage them, even after decades, that it's never to late to start as I did, as there's no time limit on a dream...