Friday, 14 May 2021

Happy 80th Birthday Auntie Mafa...

A big HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY to my auntie Tuamafa (now shortened to Mafa) with whom we celebrated her special day together with our families and some of my cousins flying in from Australia now that the trans-Tasman bubble has opened.

She is my mum's younger sister i.e. three girls with my younger auntie who passed away in the 1980s and another younger sister in Samoa.

It was so neat to see family together especially as many of us had grown up together and shared many memories of her.

I expressed that she was the auntie that I was most scared of, growing up, as she was very strict and had a no-nonsense way about her that I never wanted to say or do anything with her that would get me into trouble. 

However, as I grew up and came to know her, I started to appreciate the many calm and reassuring ways about her that although she never had any biological children of her own, she brought up many children as her own and many of my cousins call her 'mum' and have been blessed with her in their lives.

It was certainly a beautiful night that her younger 'daughter' Annie Grace (beautiful singer and songwriter) organised for her (initially against her wishes in wanting something very low key) but then we all appreciated the beauty of being able to have a family reunion, of sorts, in exchanging stories and enjoying our time together.

I thank God for the influence of this special lady in my life. She continues to be a blessing and a powerful influence to in her strong faith in God, her dedication to loving those around her, her prayer life that binds us together. May God grant to her many, many more birthdays to continue to bless those around her...


Thursday, 13 May 2021

Pfizer Vaccine COVID-19 dose 1...

Today, I went with our middle child and took my parents (and myself) to get the much talked about Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine from our local community health provider.

I must say that it was a well oiled machine from checking our car in at the gate, providing wheel chairs for my parents and a mask with an easy to follow well marked out areas for consultation etc.

I had at first heard about long waiting queues etc. but I didn't have any problems having booked in a 10am appointment. There were a few people in attendance as well but it was well coordinated.

We did the consultation, filled out the forms and then went and received the vaccination with a Samoan nurse who was able to discuss the vaccine with my parents. We received the vaccination which was very quick and a sticker for our efforts.

We then had to wait for 20 minutes in a waiting area whilst filling in a evaluation survey and then made our way back to our waiting car with in all took about 75 minutes.

It wasn't an easy decision to decide to get vaccinated but having discussed it with our local doctor as well as other medical professionals we felt that it was the best action to take rather than not acting and then regretting it later.

There is a second dose which needs to be administered in the next three weeks and I'm glad that we were given the chance to have it administered. I think and pray for the families all over the world who have not had this opportunity and how the pandemic is again surging in many parts of the world like India, Papua New Guinea etc. definitely an important consideration for 3rd world countries too...


Sunday, 9 May 2021

Happy Mother's Day...


A big HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the mothers out there. I'm spending this very special day with my own mum who happens to be the woman that I most respect and also my best friend.

I've learnt so much from my mum over the years. She, to me, is the best cook i.e. she cooks with a lot of love, the best baker, the best sewer and crafter. The list goes on.

In fact, my interest in art came from watching my mum create things. She is also resourceful and doesn't like to see things wasted. My mum lost her biological mum when she was only very young.

But she was able to raise my family with a lot of love and care. Perhaps from the many blessings and lessons that I've learnt from her, one of the special ones is the unconditional love that she has for us all.

I've been blessed by her presence and influence in my life and I'll be spending the day with her and also having other mother's and family around to spend together. I only hope that I can be as loving and caring as she is to our families as she has a lot of patience and kindness to all who come home.

During the lockdowns in 2020, it was especially important that were able to support my elderly parents by having a bubble with our middle daughter supporting them whilst I or my husband would go shopping for our households so that we could support her and my dad (and sister) in not wanting to break their bubble. 

It was a scary time for us all but so grateful that we could have that time to support them. Now it's all about trying to support our mothers in their senior years with whatever they need. I am so thankful to God for my mother and pray for a special blessing for her and all mothers to be blessed on this special day....

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Community groups and local Volunteers Day...


A couple of days ago, I attended a local community groups' day (albeit a little bit late with the many hats that I wear).

I found out that it was a 'hit' in that many people had attended and it's a day that volunteer organisations came make their presence known in having a stand just outside the local library in the forecourt.

I spoke with Toni, the founder and organiser of this day and it was good to learn about the different groups and the good that the are doing in the communities especially during the lockdowns too.

Often volunteers are the unsung heroes of our communities who may work day in and day out to support communities but often may not be paid workers such as CAB Citizens Advice Bureau volunteers, many church organisation and charitable trust volunteers (not unlike myself) and with our schools and Daycare centres etc.

This is a day that we can make the invisible - visible and a day of celebration for the amazing work that they do. I remember when my dad retired and he started volunteering in delivering 'Meals on Wheels' and then also driving for the Blind Foundation.

There's definitely room for many more volunteers and I also think that it's really important work for the soul when we reach out and support the more vulnerable members of our communities in whatever we are able to do for them. Often it's a blessing in disguise for us...

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Supporting Pink Ribbon Breakfasts...


This year again, I'm hosting a Pink Ribbon Breakfast as I hosted my first one over 10 years ago at a Primary school in Manurewa where I taught adults.

The theme colour is, you guessed it, PINK! and the breakfast is always yummy. This year, I'm thinking of keeping simple and inviting the ladies in my family who are available to fundraise and to also donate to my fundraising website.

I know of several women who have had breast cancer through friends and family and I understand that it's quite scary once diagnosed with the right information. It's also important that family support is there or even through friends.

Having regular breast checks at breast clinics or doing your own regular breasts checks then to go to see your family doctor if you have any concerns especially if you are aware that there have been changes that the doctor may not be aware of.

So supporting a good cause and the Pink Ribbon campaign also sent me a bunch of merchandise to sell on their behalf to raise $ for the cause. I definitely will be modelling some of the merchandise if any of your are interested in supporting please do contact me or sponsor through this platform above or email me...

* Aprons $25

* Book key ring $5

* Reuseable shopping bags (pink) $5

* Pen $1 or $2

* Nail file $1 or $2

or just donate to a worthy cause...


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Peter Rabbit 2 holiday movie...

Watched Peter Rabbit 2 for entertainment purposes with my family and we had a great time. Although I personally thought that the first movie was a lot more entertaining and a lot more laughs than the second but then is usually the case for many movies.

The Peter Rabbit storybooks were ones that I grew up with and I remembered being gifted a set because of the neat illustrations and the characters in each of the books that was echoed in the movie. The funny thing is that there are no rabbits in Samoa (that I'm aware of) but it was still an interesting book to read growing up.

So I guess I would recommend it to families with small children who would be entertained by rabbits jumping around with little jackets or vests. I quite like the fact that they have a warm relationship with the character who is the writer of the book and that she looks after them well.

Another movie where you need to suspend your disbelief for just a short time in order to enjoy the movie that will be fun and laughter to the little audience who like such antics and to the adults who just need a little time to remember the laughter of childhood...

Saturday, 1 May 2021

The art and beauty of tapa for next generations...

During a local hospital visit of a friend, I came upon this mounted tapa cloth on the wall at the lobby whilst awaiting an elevator ride to the bottom floor.

In fact, I let the elevator go whilst taking the photo and to have a closer inspection of tapa as it looked quite recent with no source or information on it.

The style looks like Samoa tapa designs but it could also be Tongan in its make as unfortunately, not many Samoan families are making tapa as they did in my maternal great grandmother's time.

Still, it was a beauty to behold and it quite stopped me in my tracks as I stopped to admire the handicraft of the work of art that stood before me. I am aware that there are some young Pacific artists who are learning of this craft to carry on the knowledge for future generations and I'm hoping to be able to learn and pass it on also to our next generations.

But for now, I'll continue admiring the artform and learning to paint and draw the stylized elements until such a time that our borders can open again and then back to Samoa I'll go to one day start learning about the art of making beautiful tapa cloth like my namesake great grandmother Eleni...

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Stylized tuiga Measina workshop 2...

Since our weekend Measina (treasures) workshop 2, my mother, sister and daughter have been working on our tuiga (cultural head-dress) and considering the design, colours, materials etc. which has been really interesting and intergenerational.

In fact, my younger sister remembers assisting another cousin in Samoa in making a tuiga with more indigenous materials that were found on the land, in the sea i.e. in going to different locations to pick up shells and feathers etc.

The materials we are using are those that we can source locally such as mirrors instead of glistening clamshells and commercial feathers instead of the indigenous feathers that would have been used.

It's also been interesting in finding out about the origin story of the tuiga in that it was a male who first fashioned the tuiga in order to win the hand of a maiden as a suitor.

It was told that she was enamored by his tuiga and her favourite fish that he had caught to win her hand but then was no longer interested when he took off his tuiga and found that he was not as handsome without it and decided to no longer be married to him. 

The story was shared from a village in Upolu, Puipa'a but very interesting in that early photos show men wearing it more so than women but then with the missionary influence women have since been encouraged to wear it moreso than men.

All in all, it's been an interesting journey in sharing and learning more about measina a Samoa and also about watching many have joy and growing in confidence in confirming the importance of this knowledge for generations to come...

Monday, 26 April 2021

Measina a Samoa colouring book...


This has been another full-on crazy busy week and weekend with a family meeting, church service, a Measina 2 workshop at our local bilingual Samoan Early childhood centre and applying for our second round of funding for our special Measina Innovative project.

For this particular annual funding that closed at midday (5 mins ago), I was blessed to be able to share some ideas of taking the project to the next level and considering to share some of the learnings in book form.

As a result of the workshops, I've started developing colouring pictures for children (and adults) for sharing the ideas of what some of our Measina a Samoa might have looked like in their earlier forms before the onset of colonisation and the new materials that were then added.

I also look at historical information that's available through pictures and writings, at museums and through internet. There are definitely a lot of sources out there that can help to inform our indigenous research into what they might have looked like.

So hopefully our funding will go through but if not then I'm happy to self-publish as I know that there will be a lot of interest (as I am) in sharing my indigenous research with next generations and those who are interested. Never a dull moment...

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Measina Workshop 2: Tuiga

Today, our Samoan bilingual Aoga (early childhood centre) is hosting our second Measina (treasures) a Samoa workshop on making a Tuiga which is a decorated head-dress that is used in special cultural occasions.

We thank the Ministry of Education's Pacific Innovation funding for sponsoring this event as it helps to preserve our measina our treasures for next generations to view and to learn about the importance of such cultural artifacts.

Last month, in doing some research on costings for purchasing a tuiga, I found that tuiga can range anything from $350 - $900 depending on how intricate and what materials are used or wanted for the construction of the tuiga.

It has especially been used at every annual Polynesian Festival on the Samoan stage whereby the final dance or the taualuga features the symbol of a taupou or manaia (male noble) who dances elegantly with the full outfit and almost always sporting a tuiga.

It's interesting that over time of the 4 - 5 parts of the construction of a tuiga have changed into tuiga now consisting mainly of one full head-dress in which each of the 4 components have been attached into the one that include the following:

  1. The palefuiono (decorated headband)
  2. Hair (formerly bleached hair from ancestors)
  3. Feathered tufts
  4. Front piece consisting of irridescent shell/s and 3+ decorated long prongs
Looking forward to this workshop in sharing this specialist knowledge with our communities and especially in learning abou the understanding behind the making of this beautiful headpiece for generations to come...

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Happy 57th Wedding Anniversary to my parents...


I've been so crazy busy lately with classes started, studies continuing and family life but I always try to take out time for the important things like family celebrations in being grateful to God for the people in my life.

Yesterday, my parents celebrated their 57th Wedding anniversary and I had the privilege of taking them out to lunch and spending this special time together with them.

They are now both grandparents to my children and great grandparents to my siblings' grandchildren (as I was a late bloomer) with all my studies etc.

We later celebrated over prayer and a celebratory cake over at our house and my dad bought a special ring for his bride just for the occasion of which my children thought was pretty special.

They spoke about how they first met in 1962 just after the celebrations of the declaration of Independence in Samoa that year. 

At the time, my dad was working on the Tofua (banana boat as it was called in those days) and my mum was the first in her family to leave for New Zealand to start a new life by living with her cousins and other relatives and would send money back to Samoa to support her family.

They kept in touch for two more years before they married and lived in Onehunga and then bought a house in Mangere in the mid-1960s. They and have lived there ever since but in the last 10 years decided to move back to Samoa and build a house there whilst travelling too and from Samoa. A couple of years ago we built a larger house next door for them and for our whole family to visit.

It's been a blessing to witness their journey together and especially for my children to see what enduring love looks like and the special bond and love between their grandparents and how they laugh together and love together. 

Every year is a blessing to be with them and I pray that God grants them many more together and especially that it continues to inspire our next generations to love and care for that special spouse who will be there with them every step of the way...

Friday, 9 April 2021

Farewell to our CEO Te Ururoa Flavell...


Photo Source: Te Wananga o Aotearoa
Yesterday, our Wananga said farewell to our CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Te Ururoa Flavell and a strong, humble leader as he departs to continue in his endeavours further afield.

It has only been around two years since he took the helm but in that time he has been a strong advocate of best practice and high standards.

He was an amazing leader to have especially during the time of the pandemic first breaking out in NZ and under his leadership our Wananga was able to work under pressure to bring about quick change to go digital with our classes with Zoom classes etc.

He was an experienced leader and highly motivated having been a school principal, he was the unsuccessful leader of the Maori party and has had experience in leadership positions with the neighbouring Wananga of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

It is with much sadness that we said farewell in a special poroporoaki (Maori farewell ceremony) whereupon he was able to share his thoughts, a gift of a pounamu patu (greenstone carved club) was given to him and staff were able to share their thoughts too.

Afterwards, there was the singing of waiata (Maori songs) and a shared meal where more speeches were shared and many staff were able to share their final goodbyes and well wishes with him. Te Ururoa definitely has a good sense of humour as we laughed through some of his comments that he shared with us as a Maori leader of the Wananga.

Hopefully, the person that takes over in the leadership will also have as much mana (prestige) and inspirational leadership as he did and we wish him well for his future endeavours ahead and where his leadership path takes him...

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Measina a Samoa (Palefuiono) head-dress...


One of the interesting things that my Ph.D studies has taken me is to being sponsored by the Ministry of Education's Pacific Innovation through a successful funding proposal of last year to support community workshops for our Samoan bilingual Early childhood centre.

The theme of the workshops is to explore the making and significance of measina (treasures of) a Samoa. One of the first workshops that we had was for the making of a Palefuiono (pale=head dress) and (fuiono= nautilus seashell). Upon further research, I've found out more about the origins of what it used to look like compared to what it looks like now to the way that it was made originally.

There are many interesting facts but one that I find very important was the idea of attaching silvery shells onto a headband that was worn on the head for ceremonial occasions in Samoa. This principle has still remained in currently made 'pale' but the difference is that shiny shells have been replaced with plastic shiny shapes that are often glued onto material that is then tied onto the head for cultural rituals.

There's so much that I'm learning now and am considering how to discuss this with participants who will be attending the measina workshops to explain what some of the measina used to look like and their functions to what they now look like and how some of the functions have changed. Something that I'll be writing about more in coming months...