Monday, July 30, 2012

Tree, speak to me.

I retrace my childhood memories through the majestic trees that surround me.
Each, with its own story, of branches bent, barks stripped, small limbs climbing, of bees stinging while fruit picking.
Yes, I remember these trees like it was yesterday.
If they could speak, they would cry and laugh and tell about the children that gathered under their branches, etching boys name into its living seeping skin.
The mango tree would have told of losing its fruit before it ripened.
Of fruit bats dangling off branches, seeking refuge after the cyclone.
And the avocado tree that grew so high and wide, when it bore fruit it fell and covered the ground.
Attracting birds and tourists and worms and enterprising children keen to sell a basket for a $1.
I think back of the eucalyptus that greeted us every morning, shedding its leaves and withered bark for us to pick off the ground.
I remember the day my uncle decided to cut that beauty to the ground, to turn into posts of our house in Fagamalo.
And then finding those very posts, lying unused by the house, ...because they were never really needed.
One dumb human decision and we wake up to nothing but a lifeless tree stump.
Rest in peace Eucalyptus tree.
But the one with the colourful stories, is the coconut that stood proudly at the back, away from the houses, and the prying eyes of nosey adults.
That coconut saw busy little people building houses made of grass and sticks and cardboard, filled with earthly cutlery and cakes and pies made of mud and worms and pungent beaten leaves.
But its not just the trees that will tell the full story.
For in the corner of the field, beneath the blooming teuila stalks, sits an ancient rock, oddly shaped, but perfectly flat at the top, where children perch and sing.
Where fights are won and losers are pushed off.
Where one can hear the illicit conversations from the roadside, when you stand tippy toed and hold your breath momentarily.
Unseen and unhear by no one, except the teuila leaves, the ancient rock and the corpse of a eucalyptus tree.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Folded memories

This afternoon, I found a piece of paper folded and a little bit munted in my blazer pocket.

Maeva had drawn a picture for me of herself and her two friends at school.

I remember at the time, I was rushing to get her from after school care before I got fined for late pick up.

While I was half dragging her to the car, she continued to rave on and on about her picture - but, I was thinking, oh be quiet, and let's go home, I am tired and there is a 13kg Tui weighing heavily on my hip!

.....and there it sat, forgotten in my pocket for the last few weeks, the drawing of the three little stick figures with curly hair and triangle dresses and flowers in their, Maeva if you read this when I'm dead (guilt trip time haha) just know that all your little drawings and creative work you bring home reminds me how smart and imaginative and fun you are!

And for me, I need to treasure these little things because you are growing up way too fast.


Sorry ma poustaque, I misplaced the pic again, but here's another of your drawings I found on my desktop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

That plane ride swallowed my Sunday.

We left Rarotonga on Saturday night, immediately after my last work do.

..where I ate limu (rimu in CI Maori) from Aitutaki, similar to ours but our grapes are a bit fatter..but same salty goodness, papaya, fish in coconut cream, rukau (luau) in coconut cream, chicken in coconut cream and um, coconut cream in coconut cream.

We went to the airport at midnight, got into AKL 4:45am, and by then, I was exhausted, and so were the rest of my familia, ...we got into our cold house, turned on the heat pump then crashed....including the usually hyper crazy Tui.

Woke up at 10am realising I needed to report back to work, but thankfully, they knew when my flight landed, except the fact that I lost a Sunday....and who can I claim that back from?

No one, now suck it up and get to work.

Right after these updates on fb, blogger, twitter, twatter ma isi mea faapena.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Jamaica Kincaid wrote a book about tourism in the Carribeans that was riveting. She exposed everything ugly about tourism, about the poverty and cultural degradation that came with this 'ugly' tourism, from her resentful native lenses.
I loved that book and over the years forgot all about it.
Until I returned to this place.
And I realised that her laments were nothing but painful truths.
Locals view you with distrust, dislike, dis...locate-your-face-if-I-could.
There was once a bustling little market, in the middle of town where freshproduce were sold from the back of beat up pick up trucks. farmers displayed their wares proudly, taro still brown with mud, and bananas still sticky with umm, sap.
Today, that small market has grown beyond its means, the farmers have been relegated to the outskirts, away from the shiny, ready made huts selling generic made in china rubbish and plastic everything.
Still, there is hope, as I look about me, and notice the wide use of traditional thatch to cover much of the hotels/restaurants and other tourism roofs. All traditional thatches.
until I got closed to admire it and notice the thatch has a company logo. Each one. Because they are all. Plastic.
I despair about tourism here because that is where we are headed, and already, many places of our country have arrived at this tourism convenience supermarket fast food experience.
But it begs the question, at what cost?
What price are we paying for this overexposure to tourism?
Are we ready to pull out the kava bowl at 11am each morning to perform the kava ceremony for our guests? But only the short version?
What about what is important to us?
I remember Pio Sioa's comment on Cjs fb page one time, when he asked "Is nothing sacred anymore?"
No, nothing much is sacred anymore.
we are already on the road to selling our culture, and in turn, the things that made us unique.
We have already traded ula fala for a two dollar shop necklace.
Our fine mats for long Rolls of cheap fabric.
Our umu for Chinese trays and size 2 pigs ready for pick up.
Our souls for a few tala?
Ioe, that too, because it's on sale.

thank you for your listening, let me get back to my cocktail,

Ugly Tourist.

Rain in Rarotonga

Day 3 in rainy Rarotonga and am loving the relaxed feel of this place.

I came here before as a teenager and then as a pisshead UNI student, now as a responsible parent (oi, I can see you rolling your eyes thanks).

Everywhere I look, I am remembering our time here with Malelega, ET, Aute and Dan. We spent most of our days by the pool,...and gawking at the gorgeous guys walking around.

As a UNI student, came for a conference on intellectual property and traditional knowledge and had no time for the pool, but plenty of after hour events with our conference colleagues and lots of alcohol consumed, but then my mom arrived and my drunken holiday ended.

She took me to church. Nuff said.

Rarotonga for me is Such an interesting place, it is beautiful but it is such a busy tourist haven that it has lost its authenticity. I'm just being an archaic dinosaur here for saying that but it's true. July being the peak season doesn't help, with three plane loads on Friday, the look of fatigue on the customs officers face mirrors that of the driver, the receptionist and everyone else we encountered the last 3 days.

but, I did come prepared for that...and I am not asking for more.

Okay, tomorrow we are going to show up uninvited to the samoans toonai on the island....can't wait, I've met two people we know already. She was head girl in Samoa college when I was there, she is also a relation of non other than the Telesa author herself..small world indeed.

I was tempted to ask which character in the two books resembled her, hahah.okay, not funny, but yeh...



Friday, July 13, 2012

Pass the axle please

The last two days, I've spent taking school leavers around to learn about what Science and Engineering is all about.

I even got into it a bit ( a lot) when we got to Chemical and Process engineering and the task was to separate various items through sieves as if it's a proper processing task, ...for us dummies, it was separating lollies and stuff using various err, stuff like a blow drier, wood, funnel etc...omg, I loved it!

Then at Mechanical engineering, we had to build a model car, we were given parts and off we went. I forgot to tell the professor I was the group leader and that I SUCK at anything related to engineering. when he told me to pass the axle and replace the geaR box, I kindly pushed the box of everything for him to find it himself, hah.

The last time I was in a science lab, Mr Tauafiafi was explaining something and he stopped halfway through and said "Nah, forget it, you won't get it" And proceeded to the next student.

But yeh, being in those classrooms and experimenting and hearing academics explain it like I was a 5 year old was, eye opening.

So for all you parents out there with teens who are not sure what to do with their lives or not certain what subject to take or not sure what else is out there, get them signed up for Open Days at whatever institution is of's free and it's only about 3 to 5 hours of fun and interactive days...and they get to kick ass and beat a mature student in putting together a model car that has ALL the instructors attached.




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Samoan fundraising

Earlier this year, Su'a Sio, a New Zealand Member of Parliament tackled an issue that not many Samoans would have the, ahem - balls to raise:

Fundraising from Samoa.


He upset many by saying that Samoans in Samoa should cut down on fundraising trips to New Zealand.


The man got vilified on the Samoan radio station for dare saying those things, callers called him a plastic Samoan, someone who had no roots to his family, disloyal, misinformed, and a few other terms not permitted on this sacred space,...haha, ( but yeh, someone said pogaua).


Now, I for one and glad someone spoke up. Because this is a problem.


What I was not prepared for was older people calling in, to attack the MP and saying things like "we may be poor but we will give our last cent to our beloved ekalesia."


Then there were people calling in with heartbreaking stories of how they had to get loans after loans (with horrendous repayment conditions) to give to their village fundarisers and then having to stretch their $20 for the week to feed the children. In winter. In a house with no heating.


I love that we are so selfless, and so community-minded and so caring for the progress of others, those are qualities that speak volumes about our willingness to help out and give.


Giving is such second nature to us, giving more than we have and giving even when we are grossly disadvantaged about it.


okay, I shall eject myself here and go to my happy place before something breaks....because you know where I stand in this discussion.


Manuia le Vaiaso.


Totally unrelated image of the fabulous boys from Savai'i, (claiming them as Savaiians yeh) Tatau Dance Group, like them on Facebook







Monday, July 09, 2012

A Samoan mother's challenge to us all

Last week, I was in Dunedin for a conference with other people like me who work in same crazy world.
I realised as I looked around on Day 2 that it was a room full of people with many letters behind their names, doctorates and phds and qualifications coming out of their ears.
Everyone who stood up were articulate speakers who damn well knew what they were talking was both humbling and also intimidating at the same time.
But what stood out for me was a speaker who had no qualifications but had much more than what any of us had to offer.
When she spoke, I couldn't hold back my tears (makagaga much?). In my mind, she was the missing link in that setting. She was the person that would strip us of our 'baggage' as if to remind us, poignantly, that we have just stumbled upon a well trodden path.
A path that she helped pave without any formal qualifications, with colleagues who are now gone, a path that is now ours to continue on.
She gave us 'depth' that was not there, ...well, I'm speaking for myself here.
I'm grateful I have met her, because she became my champion.

Words of wisdom from the beautiful Aliitasi Lemalu:
 "There is determination, and I don't have a degree and I challenge anybody with a degree, I go forward with a strength in my heart. I will for sure miss out on the job over a graduate with a fancy degree. And they will miss out on me, who has much more skills, life skill about..Everything. I am not ashamed about it.
I'm pleased and proud of the journey I've done".

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

She was my home

My younger sister posted something on Facebook this afternoon about Faleasiu that just made me cry, unashamedly in front of my children.
She was reminiscing about Faleasiu and how we all gravitated to gauta, to sit in a circle and recite scriptures and sing hymns by her every evening.
It got me thinking, how much I miss her so much. Everytime I think about her.
I wrote about this before and I will torture myself again by going back, but I need to sometimes, if only to remember the things that made her so so pivotal in our lives.
And I'm not using that word to be fancy, I mean it.
Pivotal is defined as:
Adjective: Of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else.
Everything around us at that time, revolved around Faleasiu, she was the stability we needed, the person who maintained peace and harmony and commanded respect, for others, for ourselves. We ran and cowered by her when we got a beating from our uncle, brother, anyone.
We grew up with her, next to her, hearing her yell at us to do our homework, to listen to our elders, to not look at boys, to not laugh so loud as if to attract boys, to pray, to laugh, to sing, to grow up as respectful people.
what shattered me most was that when she left us, She took the 'home' out of that house, and the stability, and the happiness, and the calmness that was there.
I miss her so much, I miss hearing her in the early morning singing Mamao lo'u nofoalii, I miss her stories, her fagogo, her memories of growing up in Fagamalo, fixing a wheelbarrow in Manase, getting coconuts in Pago Pago, doing the feaus for the old ladies Fogaseuga, Savali, Silaulelei and Palealofa at Safua..and so many stories,...
I blame Faleasiu for my knack for spinning a yarn...because she was the queen of that.
Its awkward how we are all grown up and have our own families but when it comes to Faleasiu, we just fall apart, because she was our pivot, she held us together.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Tuiga truths and search for non chicken feathers

Today's interesting moment is my search for very special feathers for a tuiga I'm making this week, and I felt that my point of difference was to use bird feathers, fact, any bird but chicken.
And no, I didn't like ostrich feather either.
Anyhow, ...I figured the best place to get those precious feathers, without killing the blummin bird was ..the Zoo.
So I am waiting for a reply from Auckland Zoo as I know they have an Aviary (ahem - from my last visit in 2006).
...i'm hoping they don't come back to me and say "Yes, you can have it but come collect them yourself" hah.
Will see where this lil' adventure takes me.

Interesting Tuiga truths:
If you look at images of tuigas worn by samoans in the early days, (and some even today, thank goodness), you'll find that the women's faces are very,...taunt and almost flawless. In fact, you can tell a tuiga has been 'mounted' and tied to the skull of the wearer skillfully by the 'tauntness' of their faces, so much that their eyes becomes slanted upwards. Now, try gathering your hair and pull it upwards to the top of your head, tie it in a bun and then pull some more, are you crying yet? No? keep pulling. Now look in a mirror and you too can look like a samoan taunt faced tuiga wearing warrior.
 Without botox.

Wife of a Samoan chief. The wife of a Samoan chief wears traditional 'meke' costume. Her long hair is worn up, decorated with a beaded headdress, and her neck and shoulders are adorned with garlands of flowers (leis). Suva, Fiji, 21-27 May 1924. Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Ocean, Oceania.
© Universal Images Group / SuperStock

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Miss Fiji's Andhy Blake sounds like a really frustrated guy

And from reading his latest blog entry, he is digging himself in a deeper mess with every point he makes.

Doesn't he have close friends or family that can advice him to stop being a drag and grow up?

Check his blog if your bored...light entertainment for the evening, unless you're one of the people mentioned in which case, you'd be taking legal action. Vinaka!