Monday, 14 October 2019

Lotu Tamaiti - White Sunday...

Every second year since having our children, we've celebrated White Sunday a.k.a. Lotu Tamaiti (meaning children's church) at my birth church in Mangere PIC (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church).

It's usually on the second Sunday of October, this year falling on 13th October, and it's a day where children get to wear white clothes, participate in saying a bible verse, in the Samoan language, or to be a character within a Christian play or dance.

Usually after the service, which is known as the best part, there is a shared meal of celebration where the children get to eat first with food that complements the day.

For me, it's about teaching this legacy, through early missionary contact, to the next generation. As with my parents' generation, they talked it being like Christmas as it was the only day that most children would get new white clothes for church in taking part in this annual service that was dedicated to children.

Growing up, I remember being a part of many White Sunday celebrations in learning verses or lines for a play and now I see my own children doing the same. I think the neat thing is that into the third generation, they are continuing a tradition that was started way before I was even born and now continuing.

And maybe it'll be my turn again, until the next year...

Monday, 7 October 2019

Artwork started for upcoming new book...

Artwork borders completed for an upcoming book
This weekend I got to finish off the borders for the illustrations of our latest book that I've been working on now for at least three years.

The borders bring together the art study that I've been doing for the past couple of months on Samoan traditional tatau (tattoo) designs, motifs and meanings both for the male pe'a or malofie and the female malu.

The interesting part has also been about learning the different Samoan names and parts of the designs as well as some of the meanings of them.

Another interesting challenge and part of the design work has been working with watercolours and ink as a medium rather than the usual acrylics or colour pencils with ink that I've used with past illustrations.

The consideration of the colour palette has also been another area that I've been playing around with ideas and decided to go with a more contemporary take on the earthy colours with the black ink representing the actual tattooed symbols, icon or motifs.

And now for the actual artwork to begin as the text is now almost ready to go and it seems like just yesterday when I was working on the text on our last trip to Melbourne which then seemed complete but now I know was waiting for the right time to start which is now...

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Inspirational song for Sunday still no. 1 ...

If you haven't yet heard Lauren Daigel's no.1 (in the U.S.) Christian song that has broken records of being on the Christian song charts for the most weeks i.e. over 62 weeks (that's well over a year) then you are in for a treat.

'You say' is a neat reminder that sometimes we need to remember that God has a better outlook on what's happening in our lives more than we can see or know and that we shouldn't be confined into living in spaces that people think we should.

I only have to think about the pioneering spirit that my parents had and that was passed onto me and that I hope to pass onto my own children and the next generation about not being confined into spaces, about having no fear because of the limitations of peoples imaginations and more about having and living a faith in a God that is bigger and better than any technology, money, power or personality on earth.

A faith that gives a greater purpose, accountability and meaning to life as we know it. This is shared also in the song by Hillsong United 'Ocean' (Australia) which topped the charts for 61 weeks second now to Lauren's song.


Saturday, 5 October 2019

Finally 'The Adventures of Tupaia' who was the real master navigator...

Yesterday, whilst on my shopping mall duties with my children, I came upon this new book called 'The Adventures of Tupaia' by Courtney Sina Meredith (NZ Samoan poet) and now author.

Whitcoulls is one of the favourite places of our youngest to visit as it encompasses a book, stationery, toy and giftshop (all in one) and that's where I spied the book to add to our collection.

This is one important story that needed to be told and I had considered it but as it wasn't my story to tell, I'm so glad that now many young people and people, in general, will know who the real hero of Captain Cooks voyages was.

Over the last few years since teaching and learning much through the lens of Indigenous Research, I've read and come across a lot of writings and information that reveals that Polynesian / Pasifika ancestors were people who were at the forefront of living sustainably, with languages that have similar origins, crafting canoes and sea voyaging vehicles that traversed thousands of miles and populated islands throughout the pacific centuries before Captain Cook was even born.

I've reviewed another book, in this blog, about Tupaia/Tupaea's exploration with Captain Cook's expedition which is a more comprehensive read for adults but this book was originally written for children to teens to learn about him.

Launched last month, it comes at a time when people are questioning why there are celebrations to mark 200 years since Captain Cook's voyaging and 'first contact' which used to be taught as discovery when in actual fact the doctrine of discovery was colonial, oppressive and misleading (to put it mildly) for indigenous peoples he came in contact with when the actual inhabitants had already 'discovered' the lands.

This book begins to right the story that it was actually Tupaia who helped to navigate Cook Captain to Aotearoa and that Captain Cook didn't actually discover anything except that it was the first time that Europeans had come in contact with NZ but not for Pasifika peoples or Polynesians who had been long traversing the vast oceanic continent i.e. moana nui a kiwa...

Friday, 4 October 2019

Congratulations to all our Pasifika scholarship recipients...

(Photo credit: AUT website)
A big CONGRATULATIONS to our eldest who is heading out to AUT University next year having been accepted into their law school and in winning an AUT Kiwa Scholarship which was announced on her birthday!

This is so significant as the word 'Kiwa' is the shortened form of 'Moana nui a kiwa' which is the Maori Indigenous name for the Pacific ocean. It is also known as the water continent that Pacific ancestors sailed through to get to Aotearoa and that my parents sailed across when immigrating to NZ in the late 1950s - 1960s for a better future.

This scholarship recognises academic achievement, all-round ability, cultural participation and leadership potential open for all Pasifika secondary students in New Zealand with Pasifika heritage.

The hard work has paid off and our eldest can now go into her last year at high school with external exams content in knowing that the last three years hard slog has put her in good stead for a solid first year at Uni. As a parent and Alumni of Auckland Uni, of course, I wished that she would go there for her undergraduate studies but have instead left this decision to her as I'm also an alumni of AUT and wish our eldest the best in all her endeavours.

As a leader and teacher, it's also about giving our children or students many potential pathways of access to higher education that they must ultimately choose from. In saying this, whilst in Samoa, I was still writing letters of recommendation for some of my students who wanted to pathway into the Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge course as some had years of experience in Indigenous knowledge and others already with degrees, etc.

One thing that I'm always conscious of is that educational qualifications do not make a person better than others. I only have to think about my hardworking parents and the sacrifices that they made for me and ultimately for our children in now having stability in our lives with a home and foundation church in NZ and a home in Samoa, through hard work in serving their communities. They did it despite not having academic qualifications.

Other values that I learned through my parents and especially my father was learning about humility in having achieved academically and not be arrogant. I've also learned in becoming a leader that it's not about staying there, by myself, but in giving a helping hand for many others to also achieve. At present, I'm awaiting the results of seven students who graduated from my class and were accepted into the Master's 2-year cohort degree to see if they will all graduate next year. My beloved has completed and he is one of them.

So to our eldest, I wish her all the best, that she keeps the Christian and Samoan values that we've taught her: to walk humbly and not arrogantly (with me in the background discussing) and to enjoy working hard towards achieving and then to help someone/others along the path in never forgetting where you came from and those who helped you to get there i.e. leaning on the shoulders of giants (our pioneering parents who came from Samoa). That's what true achievement is really about...

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages...

(Photo credits: Official logo of
As a part of the course that I'm currently teaching in the indigenous research space, I came across information stating that 2019 is the year that the U.N. or United Nations decided to mark as the year of celebrating Indigenous languages. (Please visit for further information)

What was concerning for me was that I hadn't heard of or had seen this at all advertised in our local or national media i.e. print form, TV, radio or even on social media from the beginning of the year or perhaps I may have missed it? but have you?

That's why I decided to blog about it to bring attention to such an important emphasis that needs to made for indigenous languages that carry unique world views and cultural concepts/principles and practices that need to be carried on for future generations to learn about.

If you check out the website above indigenous languages are becoming endangered for many cultures as colonial or host languages have taken precedence as the preferred languages of educational institutions and past racist policies barred indigenous peoples from even speaking their languages in schools.

You only have to look at New Zealand's, Samoa's and other Pacific nation's racist colonial histories to see the abysmal experiences that indigenous peoples had in some generations losing their indigenous languages especially if indigenous parents have moved for a host country that doesn't have opportunities to teach children their indigenous languages or they don't have access to those resources (quite apart from choosing not to teach them).

For me in the space that I work in at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, it has been so reassuring to see the renaissance of many Maori youth now becoming bilingual but especially in learning their indigenous language throughout their education.

I'm thankful for my parents encouraging us at home and putting us in a church and family settings where I could regularly hear Samoan spoken, see it written and learn to appreciate the principles, protocols, and worldviews that I otherwise would have not known about had we been fully immersed into pakeha (European) culture.

The question for us now is about how are we ensuring that the next generation of our own families are being encouraged to learn about, speak, read, to be informed about our indigenous languages and cultural principles? Can our children speak, read, learn about our indigenous languages now or in the future? what things are we putting in place so that our next generation are able to access that knowledge and language/s. Definitely something to think about...

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Maria Tauau's art works featured...

Favourite pic of Maria Tauau's artwork
Today I'd like to feature the art of my lil' sis Maria. Like me, she took art through high school to a senior level Year 13 and mastered in Printing where she gained an excellence endorsement. I actually believed that her art hadn't yet reached it's potential in seeing how gifted she was and encouraged her to try painting instead and from there she took off.

You can check out her commissioned art works on three covers of our books i.e. Pacific Hibiscus - a poetry collection (2016), A Midsummer night's dream with a taste of Polensia - Pasfika play (2016) and Sense of Belonging - a community anthology of shorts stories and poetry (2018).

I've encouraged her to carry on with her studies to a Masters level with her art and wish her well in her endeavours to continue putting her artworks out there for our communities to appreciate too. You can also find some of her ink drawings at Middlemore hospital (South Auckland) in the antenatal unit featuring her Samoan/Pacifika styled works of art and we've taken some of her art to Samoa to grace the walls of our new home there.

The above multimedia artwork featuring three Samoan/Pasifika women is so far my mum and my favourite art pieces of Maria's at this time. It features a Samoan taupou wearing the traditional tuiga (ancient headpiece for ceremonial occasions) and the frangipani and hibiscus flowers that are some of our favourite flowers in the Pacific.

I'm hoping at some future time and space to bring together our art works and have a two women exhibition with her to feature some of our art to display for our communities and also for local schools to visit but that's in the planning stages. But for now we're working on another cover of an upcoming book that will feature Maria's talent with more to come...