Friday, May 31, 2013

Atamai e Tautua mo Samoa

I'm lying here, leaves brushing gently upon my face, light, soft, fluttering.
Above me, the tamaligi stands bold. 
As it always has, over these short decades, watching students, just like me, lying at her base, daydreaming about life thereafter.
Life beyond those yellow gates...
...Yes, that yellow gate where you leave your glamour, glories and status.
Strip them bare and walk through the tarmac in your freshly pressed uniform and yellow jandals.
I reminisce of the times we first sat on the ground, in perfect order singing 
"Jesu Joy of Man's desiring" in perfect unison
 Fearful of the wrath of Mr Isara 
I look to the now derelict Junior block that once educated the leaders of Samoa today,
The students who now sing the praises of this very place,
Proudly, bondly, school spirited, "Atamai e tautua mo Samoa"
All around me, are the ghosts of those who have left us, 
Laughing, talking, holding hands, 
I lie here still, leaves fluttering upon my face 
With my ever present tamaligi dreams

Happy 60 Years Samoa College "Atamai e Tautua mo Samoa"

Please note, this image does not belong to me but to Doug Gordon of Wellington.
His family lived in Samoa and two sisters Barbara and Alison attended Samoa College.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Samoa Quiz

Bored out of your brains?

Take my made up quiz which is all about Samoa and the level of difficulty is errr, really easy!

Good luck!

Answers: Clearly, some of the people who answered are having a good

...omg, I am ALTing at the answers at the moment...the name of the bird no longer banned in Samoa?
"Pipi".....was that you Goldgurl? hahahah....ata oleo tele ma ta'avalevale i luga o le fala, choohooo!

“Under the wide and starry sky. Dig the grave and let me lie: Glad did I live and gladly die” 

Monday, May 27, 2013

O le vaiaso lenei e fa'atauaina ai le gagana Samoa

Talu ai ona o le vaiaso lenei o le gagana Samoa, o le'a fa'asamoa la'u poloka (blog). 

Aso Sa
Sa fai a matou mea taulima ma tamaiti.
Manaia le kopai a le tina matua ia Evo na fai, ua matua gula lava le au fale i le magaia o puka o le kopai.
Na toe fai fo'i le su'iga ula tumoa a le matou vaega.
E ese lo'u fiafia ou te fa'alogologo i pesepesega a le WSTTC,...e oso ai ma lota fia siva i le manaia o leo o faiaoga,

Ia, alu alu lea o le aiga kopai, laga mai loa ma ie koga ma uakogi a le loomakua:

Ia, o se lipoti lata mai lena i le makeki kuai i lenei taeao

Manuia le Vaiaso

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Samoan fun activity for children living outside Samoa, ...who own a banana tree

So today's weeding the garden ended up being an activity class with Maeva.
Making a ula from a tu moa (inflorescence according to google thank you) of a banana tree.
Step 1: Slash off the tu moa from the banana tree

 Step 2: Peel off the layers and break off the unopened flowers 

 Step 3: Place them in the order you like em on the ula, ie, the nice ones centred and the small ones on the sides.  

 Step 4: Start sewing, make sure you don't let the sap onto clothes, stays forever and forever. Get an old cloth and gently dap ula to remove excess sap.

Step 5: Et voila! Ula tu moa for Miss tama'imoa.

Samoa Language Week is next c'mon people....lets think of ways to celebrate it (for those living outside of the Motherland).

You can:

Sing a Samoan Song:
Example,...Moelagi's school sang this at assembly last week:

Beautiful Pese Samoa singing by Moelagi's school

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paradise is a state of mind

when i was a young lass, i came across a lot of palagis who said to me and others on my island:
"you live in such a beautiful/ pristine/ perfect place, keep it as it is"
...after the 60th palagi, you get a sense of indifference, blase attitude and respond with "of course, we love it here in paradise' (and rolls eyes).
But by the 100th palagi, you now get sick of it and want to squash their eyeballs.
My point is, my paradise cannot retain and remain pristine for as long as we open our doors to palagi, development, technology, climate change, deforestation, contested land and titles court cases, HRPP, reality etc.

Now, we also have the palagis who came over before and on their second visit to Savaii, they are disappointed at how much change has occurred to 'their' paradise.
My problem with that is, their disappointment is not for the people or the place, but more so, for themselves and the eroding of the paradise that is in their minds, fading from their memories.
Culture is ever changing, and so do people, change is inevitable. 

I won't link you to the articles I am referring to, because the writer/s will hate me for it but I have this to say:

The paradise in your mind is still there, ....IN your mind.

The paradise that is Savaii, is a living, breathing, dying, moving, thinking place. 
Change happens.
 And while you lament about the loss of a beautiful place.... think about the young man you met  in the 70s/80s in Savaii. He too had to grow up, in 'your paradise' and it is impossible for him to remain savage, climbing a coconut tree and stopping by the roadside to call out, "Hello palagi" with a pearly white toothy polynesian smile, before jumping in the ocean to catch a shark or six.
He too had to grow up, go to school, get a job, or start a plantation, or look after his family, or ride a bus to and from nowhere. He too had to make a living in your paradise.

To retain the paradise in your mind, go and live in that paradise for a year, and I will ask you afterwards:
"Was it idyllic and serene? perfect and relaxing? was there a constant flow of pinacolodas and dancing islands maiden singing We are the Hukilau? Are you proud of that perfect place, and passionate about keeping it exactly as it is?"
Shit does happen...even in paradise. 
my own image

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fagogo maketh inspiring Samoan authors

On Sunday evening, I took the young ones of my family to listen to Albert Wendt speak at the finale of the Writers Festival.
I am not a writer, but when I heard him speak, I was completely floored. 
I suddenly realized I had missed my calling how powerful the words he spoke and how much mana this man possessed.

When he spoke about the fagogo, I smiled because he was describing the very reason why I love writing on this blog and telling tales and kulukus.....he spoke about  listening to his own elders telling the fagogo while he and his siblings lomi'd (massage) the legs of the old lady. 
Koke Aiono talked about this too, and so many other Samoan writers....this was the beginning of their creative drive., and e sa'o lelei Albert:

"We didn't have television, My Grandmother, she had sore legs and she would reward us with a fagogo. ...There is a call, "Tagi le Fagogo" and we had to respond to show that we were paying attention all along.
I can still hear her telling the fagogo".

 After he spoke, I asked my crowd to tell me what they thought of the evening and Albert Wendt, here is their feedback:

"He was true to himself, where he came from"  Faleasiu, Year 11
"He wasn't ashamed of his culture" Vetti,  Year 10
""Exhilarating" Barry, Year 6
"Funny" Moelagi, Year 2

What I also found intriguing and promising was his references to second or third generation Pacific kiwis, who are now excelling in all areas, like the arts, as writers, artists and one of those was his granddaughter Isabella Moore, who is an opera singer...stunning voice and totally complemented the mood of the evening. Seki a!

But the most powerful comment of the evening was this:

"Sometimes, the most influential people in your life are those who are absent" 
Maualaivao  Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt and my nieces (:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Faith with a mission

I'm just reading about a missionary from the LDS church who has returned to Samoa, having served there in the early 1970s (on Samoa Observer).
Here's the thing, i don't belong to that church, but my goodness, they definitely got a few things right, or shall I say, they have such a healthy ongoing relationship with Samoa, not just their counterparts.
  • I say this because if you think about it, they don't do the whole give $2000 and $3000 and how many more thousands to the church yearly. They only give a portion of what they earn.
  • Investing in education: Wow...have you been to Vaiola? They have state of the art resources that a Savaii kid could only 'dream of''....and I won't mention my own denomination but lets just say getting a textbook with all the pages intact to yourself is a miracle.
  • Breaking down cultural barriers/borders,...again, I refer you to the story about this missionary and be reminded that their presences in a village is testament to this open, healthy relationship. Learning another language and living like the people around them. Our church ministers are from our own community and they live mostly in 2 storey walled in mansions.
  • Smoking, Drinking: They don't do this (ahem - when no one is looking lol) but this is one thing that is a blessing that the others could have benefited from.
  • Relevance: What I enjoyed about this church is that during their services, they are split into groups, ...i think the moms and kids and the men break off and then they discuss issues that are relevant and share recipes and share real life scenarios....(PS My little sister and I used to go to the Vaisaulu LDS with a relative when my family were not paying attention haha) my actual church, we park our mulianas on the hard seat and listen for 2 hours to the church leader preaching and singing, zero movement to the bones or the brain.
  • Missionaries who return and give back in one way or another: The most memorable missionaries I met returned to Savaii before the 2 cyclones ( I was a newborn at the time but my memory is amazing hah - nah, I was much older)., I remember Rex Maugh, because of a really childish reason, he had one green eye and one blue eye.(Did I mention I was a kid?) and I remember Paul Cox because he was passionate about the rainforest. Both gave back, Rex Maugh was involved in turning RLSS's residence into the Museum it is today and Paul Cox eventually supported the Falealupo people in retaining their lowlying rainforest through a 50 year lease instead of cutting it down for timber.
So yeah, ...I therefore am not suprised when I see the recent Bureau of Statistic stats  showing yet another increase in their numbers since the last census....although if you dig deeper, the increase is also due to natural births and not necessarily converts:

4.9 Fertility by religion
Religion is a major part of Samoa's social life and customs because the population is predominantly
Christian. Therefore, the children are seen as blessings from God Almighty hence big families are highly valued. It is most likely that the church teachings may influence the family size decisions and family planning practices made by couples, teenagers and young people. The 2011 results showed that LDS had the highest TFR(total fertility rates) of 5.4 followed closely by AOG with 5.1. The
same churches also had the same ranking in the census 2006.
copied from Samoa Bureau of Statistics 2011

There you have religious post of the month,
Thank you for reading.

My goodness....yesterday, I was public announcer and now i'm sounding like a PR adviser from Utah.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Pacific event you should attend if you are in Auckland this Sunday, 19th May 2013.

  • Date: Sunday 19 May 2013
  • Time: 05:30 p.m. - 06:45 p.m.
  • Price: $20 EARLYBIRD $25 STANDARD
  • Note: Under 18's will be eligible for a free ticket to this event, to be booked through THE EDGE ticketing service.

Albert WendtIn 1973 an emerging writer by the name of Albert Wendt delivered his first novel. Sons For The Return Home was groundbreaking, exploring love, freedom and racism in Aotearoa New Zealand. It was made into a film and became a secondary school text. Forty years on, in the largest Polynesian city in the world, Maualaivao Albert Wendt CNZM, Emeritus Professor of English at The University of Auckland, continues to break new ground as a novelist, poet, playwright, short story writer and artist. In 2012 alone he published the poetry collection From A Manoa Garden to Ponsonby and the short story collection Ancestry. Wendt’s contribution to the literary landscape is immense; his body of work an inspiration to generations of readers; his contribution to a Pacific literature unmatched. To celebrate his accomplishments, this session will bring the sounds of the Pacific to the stage: live Samoan music; excerpts from Wendt’s writing read by leading writers; and Wendt himself, who will distil his life and writing in conversation with Robert Sullivan.

All above information copied without permission  from Writer's page

Another event this week is:

Climate change in the Pacific seminar at the Fale Pasifika, Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland.

My goodness, I'm beginning to feel like a public announcements blog...or a 2AP.  Aue Malia e!

Monday, May 13, 2013

I love my mom

Called my mother to wish her Happy Mothers Day.
She is in Savaii with our old aunt So'o this weekend, having a relaxing Sunday, they went to church and had toonai.
When I write about my mom, I try to be emotive about it, but in truth, our conversations are really matter of fact, casual as.
But, I remain grateful and proud of my mom for raising me, and my six siblings, and many of our relations that we grew up with. 
My father died in 1984, my youngest sister was just 2.
I forget sometimes but my goodness, what a burden...losing your husband and left with 7 children to raise, along with the rest of your family. 
Growing up, I never once thought I was deprived or disadvantaged, and for that, I am every so grateful to my mother. 
We shared and lived and grew up with cousins and relatives, I was truly blessed. 
Again, she's not the emotive type, my mother.
When we came first in class or won something, it was not ours to claim, it was 'It's not your viiga (glory)but humble yourself and thank God, thank your family, and work harder". 
When we were in trouble, or someone was mean to us, she didn't pick us up and hold us close, but rather ...let us fight our own battles and then say..."But what did you do to get that treatment?"
She is a giver. She does things for everyone. She receives money and gifts and it gets given away immediately.
She cuddles her grandchildren to sleep but she is more in tune with them when they are a bit older, and she totally ignites the creativity in people. Children love her for this, when she makes them weave pales (head pieces) and tend gardens and draw pictures, make witch hats, draw tattoos on kids and  draw stick figures with chalk...she makes children get creative and sing songs and tell stories. 
I had a shock when my then 5 year old said to me in the car last month "Did you know Tui Fiti means the King of Fiji and he lived in Samoa?" or when she tells me about "Apelaamo" because her granma read her the Bible story book.
Another thing I thank my mother for is, she took us places. We played under many a conference table, we volunteered as Red Cross kids after Cyclones and floods, we played in villages with other children while she was in meetings, we spent hours in rainforests while researchers collected seeds and interviewed people, we learnt so many things about the environment when we were in primary school. 

I am ever so grateful for having such an enterprising, hard working and amazing mother. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love my mom.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Injustice in Samoa

Have a read of this sad sad story about a Samoan citizen who worked hard, paid taxes and in return, was wronged by MNRE (then Department of Lands Survey and Environment).
This is the Ombudsman's Report...I love reading his reports,...he cuts to the chase like no one's business.

It's a lengthy report but its an intriquing (if not worrying) read.

Here's the Ombudsman Recommendations


There are two wrongs from past actions of MNRE that need to be addressed. The oldest of these is the wrongful disposal of a valuable natural resource that should have been conserved. It is not possible to fully right this wrong. It is considered a reasonable responsibility for Government however to establish by proper study what can usefully be retrieved of the Fugalei mangrove swamp and to conserve it for future generations. Government could do this if it wishes by means of the Taking of Lands Act. It would naturally observe the requirements of the Constitution with regard to compensation for the bona fide owners of the lands involved.

The situation with regard to any land still in the possession of Theresa McCarthy may be different. She was after all not a purchaser for value as she was simply conveyed the land by the Public Trustee back in 1993. Mr Chan Tung‟s treatment at the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has cost him a great deal in financial and human terms. No attempt will be made here to tally these things as the Ombudsman is not in the compensation business. Noting however the direct involvement of Government‟s agents in causing Mr Chan Tung‟s situation and woes, the Ombudsman would urge Government, with a view to contributing financially on an ex-gratia basis, to commit to a genuine conversation with Mr Chan Tung, the Development Bank and SLC as appropriate to deal with Mr Chan Tung‟s indebtedness to the Development Bank, and if possible and in a manner agreeable to all, to place him on a footing where he could begin again to be a productive person.

A way forward presents itself should Government choose to salvage the mangrove swamp and to purchase identified plots for that purpose by way of the Taking of Lands Act. The land owned and sub-divided by Mr Chan Tung in 2002 will undoubtedly be wanted for conservation. In the taking of lands exercise, fairness and everything else point to the rightness of treating Mr Chan Tung as if there were no problems with his ownership of the land and of paying him on an ex-gratia basis for the 4 acres he purchased and subdivided in 2002 and for which he holds the de-registered Deed of Conveyance.   I recommend as above.

Maiava Iulai Toma


6 May 2013

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Climate change language and Samoan traditional knowledge

Tulaga Ma'ale'ale: Vulnerability
Malosiaga e tali atu i suiga o le tau: Adaptive Capacity (to climate change).

Fascinating how climate change concepts have been translated - a palagi concept but we already have traditional terms and knowledge reating to our environment, including weather patterns and changes in seasons, our adaptation to climate change etc.

This is why I switch off when climate change "so called" experts are talking down to Pacific people or shall I just say, to indigenous people whose lives have revolved around the natural environment?

If anything, we all need to stop and ask our elders and consult with our history to better understand how they have adapted and lived with our environment.

Fai aku ai foi.

Okay, enough of this climate hoopla, my brain is hurting writing about it.