Thursday, December 10, 2015

Inhaling Resilience in Samoa

  • Resilience  
  • noun
    1.  the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. (like a faga meme'i really:)
    2.  ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
    At the end of any tragedy, you will hear reporters speak about the resilience of the people, their ability to bounce back and rebuild, restart their lives, etc.
    Whenever I think of resilience, I think back to the aftermath of Cyclone Ofa and seeing villagers from Falealupo regrouping and working tirelessly to protect their families, before outside help arrived. I also think of the families in Papa Sataua who built rocky foundations into the hill so that when Cyclone Val struck the following hill, they had cover.  
    I was, just a newborn of course but my memories of this time was that: people responded immediately and took ownership of the situation.
    It is this resilience which also allows people to remain in their place of origin, despite the challenges.
    Today, one of the catchphrases by so called palagi experts is resilience. 
    But here's something I believe:
    It difficult to teach resilience to people who have not really experienced a traumatic event or experience, or challenging situation. You can learn the definition, run a workshop and get case studies together.
    But, resilience truly kicks in when we are forced to take control in a desperate situation, during or after the fact, with very little or no intervention at all.
    ...but, next week, I will form part of a group teaching activities and I just realised it included resilience *gag*

    Funniest part is this, ....the people running the event were allocating who covers what and the leader asked if I could cover  resilience because it was powerful, and I sat there thinking:
    oooferkomz, I survived 3 cyclones, countless trips on the Salafai on stormy days, 2 car crashes, Omega's cooking, walking the paepae maa in lalovaea on stilettos at midnight, the falekua's salu lima,  a tsunami and a loaded gun in my living room, we inhaled resilience.

     That's what I was thinking, what I said instead is, "Okay"
    So, while we're at it, let me tell you a story, it's like a fagogos except it's real, go right ahead and laugh about it but don't laugh in my face when we meet, kefs:
    Resilience in Lalovaea
    When we were young, we all went to school in Fusi (Safotulafai) - all of us until my eldest brother Kilisi made it to SamCo and off he went.
    At lunchtime, someone from home would come with a Tupperware of sandwiches or taro and chopseuy or whatever was there for lunch. There was usually 7 of us, unless someone had moved onto Logo College up the road.
    Food was therefore, there most of the time. There was the odd day when someone doesn't show up with the tupperware but we were 'resilient' and sometimes walked to our rellies begging for food, much to our families embarrassment. More often than not, our friends or other children will also hang around for the Tupperware to arrive. 

    Other days, we'd be  given .50cents each to spend. 

    Let me say this, you get fuckall with that .50cents. 

    But, if you pool all our coins together, we could get something good so we'll starve during lunch break, but buy a bottle of coke and lollies after school  aaaand then walk home (since the busfare has been spent too). 

    My grandmother Faleasiu Liki is from Fusi, so walking home is another food journey. We get stopped by family who will tell us off for walking home and then feed us ulu and miki or elei or whatever is there.

    Food was always there.

    Then, one by one, we started moving to Apia to do the rest of our high school and my cousins went off to Seattle, (broke my heart when they left but that's another post).
    Now, going to Apia for someone from Savaii is a big deal. But going for us was different.
    We lived at the family home in Lalovaea, but, without family.
    Let me tell you this, I realised then that I. Was. Poor. And. Hungry.
    The struggle was real without having family and without that Tupperware showing up.
    We had to learn to make that pusa elegi last the month. choooohooooo.
    I think back now and realise, I truly learnt what resilience was in Lalovaea.
    While we, siblings laugh about that struggle now, I sometimes think back to that time and remember that it was in that desperation that I found myself focussed and clear about what I wanted in life.
    It was so damned clear.
    I wanted so desperately to be able to fend for myself, without having to rely on others.
    I desperately wanted to earn my own living and be able to afford things that I wanted.
    But more of all, I wanted to get the hell out of a desperate hopeless situation.
    The only way we knew was through studying and getting a scholarship (to get a degree).
    So while this is turning into a blaaaali testimonial, I just wanted to bring it back to the initial topic,
    Resilience for me was the ability to survive a desperate situation and believing that there is hope somewhere, somehow. I just had to muster the tough times and all will be well in the universe.
    I want my children to know struggle. I want them to inhale resilience.

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Samoan Facebook Page to follow, if you're a history freak

    The Museum of Samoa Facebook Page
    Their website is: but like the Facebook page - they tend to post pics every now and then and it's origin: like today's below...I love it!
    Unidentified school and children near Apia, Upolu, Samoa. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-31278-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

    Monday, November 09, 2015

    Fagogo of the Month: How to get ebola in a nightclub

    One day, I ran into a primary school friend.

    We sometimes walked home, having both spent our bus fare on sugar donuts on the back of the fat lady's ute.

    We reminisced about our catholic school, about our fishing trips in year 3 even though some of our class didn't know how to swim, about the teacher who slept with the bus driver and the priest who...oh nevermind, where was I?

    Yes, we exchanged numbers/etc and promised to catch up etc.
    we resumed comms and she suggested we go out.
    but, the local night club (where pretty much every samoan fundraiser happens round here).

    I live about 10 minutes from the place, and if you've grown up in Samoa or in South awkrand or campbelltown haha, you'll be aware of the sort of places I'm referring to,

    It's like Evaeva, or RSA or wherever you go where there are 4 toilets, 2 are out of order, one is clogged and the functional one has no lid, cover or door., so you attempt to pee standing/sitting without touching anything and think about the diseases you're contracting while there.

    It's a nightclub, the music blasts so loudly that when you walk out, you have physical pain in your eardrums and throat from yelling (talking to your friends) - oh,  and you've had your vagina rubbed unexpectedly by a smelly old man at the dance floor,...that sort of place.

    As much as I hate the place, when there are fundraisers, we do have to show up and support. I obviously hate the place even more because the previous owner loiters there and he is a sleazebag who looks at women and licks his yellowed teeth with desperation.

    Every time I see him at the market I think, yuck - another respectable high chief in broad daylight and a pervert in the shadows.

    To cut to the chase, my friend and I did catch up, thankfully at a place down the road before reluctantly venturing onto the place. I couldn't find an excuse to get out of it.

    One this specific night, its once again a fundraiser - and a bunch of grown men crowd around the entry, some had attended school with my older siblings. Some are best mates with men who abuse their partners while they look the other way.

    Just great.

    ...the joys of coming from a big family - it makes people assume that if they were friends with one of the siblings, it makes it okay to say, 'buy me a beer" fefe ia ufakoomz.

    I suddenly felt very disgusted.

    20 minutes in and a fight breaks out but the burly security are quick to chuck the culprits out.

    I did my usual Houdini and went home to cleanse my skin of chlamydia and ebola I got from the toilet visit.

    It got me thinking, ........people migrate to new places to get a better life blahblahblah ----and then I looked around and though ---wow, we've come so far ....and yet.
    oi aue o le mala ua kele.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Mua i malae

    I had to drive a Cook Island elder today to an event.

    On the way there, we had a robust discussion about Pacific languages and how to keep it alive in the modern world. He had spent much of his life in Mangaia before returning to NZ.

    We compared the different things done to enhance language, and a Samoan, I see that there is sadly, we have a lot of work to do.
    Meanwhile, this revered gentleman stopped me and spoke about the challenges they face.
    He wishes more of his people were more involved like the samoans. I pointed out that sometimes, we are perhaps too involved sometimes.
    Then he said this:

    "The difference between the samoans and us is this, if a samoan sees a wall in their way, they will bash it down, walk back and think, how else can I break that wall down? A Cook Islander will look at the wall, feel it, shake their head and wait for a Samoan to do the job"

    I laughed my head off at this analogy and pointed out that hey ---while samoans are assertive like that, there are also walls that they bash down which should have stayed upright.

    Mua I Malae - Coming First and breaking those barriers
    It led me to reflect on the whole barrier breaking thing, and its suffice to say that, a great part of our culture is about winning and breaking barriers. One of the more common alagaupu in samoan is mua I malae - signifying the you were the first to attain, achieve or reach a destination or to do something.

    Coming first in everything
    One of the things have Samoans have succeeded in is sports. Rugby, American football, boxing, mmf. We have a great reputation for producing naturally strong, fit, athletic people who excel.
    Many Samoans have also excelled in many other areas, including education. So we have so very much to celebrate.

    Coming first in other areas too: 
    Recently, the Government announced a plan to deal with child obesity in NZ. I call it an economically and commercially responsible plan which doesn't deal with the real problem.
    Read up on it. But here's something else that scared me: 

    We are LEADING in child obesity
    We as a collective unit, are not taking ownership of the problem. Nor accepting there is a problem. Nor standing up and saying "Let's be leaders and winners in solving child obesity in our communities.

    It's not all bad news, we have a few amazing people and organisations who are leading in this area, like the Big Boys/Big Girls in Manukau, the Nobesity activities in Samoa, the zumba sessions at some of the local churches.

    But there needs to be MORE and MORE leaders and community focus on obesity. Out attitudes to food.
    I mean, look at the amount of processed foods we eat. Makuai fumfa lava o le pisigisi sole.

    Think about it......

    Tuesday, October 20, 2015

    Alagaupu Fa'asamoa

    One of the things I absolutely love about our language is the use of proverbs, or references to activities that our ancestors were accustomed to, (Alagaupu and muagagana). Much of our formal (oratory) language comes from these references and activities, like pigeon snaring, which was once a sport of chiefs in the past, or fishing or the many games that were played.

    Sadly, we as Samoans are not exposed to many of these old samoan games anymore, and this is one of the first steps to losing our language.

    Last week in Niue, it was wonderful seeing the schools involved in cultural sports day, because this meant that children had a connection to their history. This was active learning through doing, seeing and competing, much like our ancestors.
    Interactive. Lived culture. Still relevant. Valued.

    On the night before sports day, my niece and nephew were ripping the tauniu off the broom as they had to make their own sika for the throwing competition. Obviously, mom Lina was not impressed with the missing tuaniu from the broom, but it was fun - and my midgets ended up participating in the event as well. Yay........sau a mai NZ misi le fa'asamoa ae fai le vagahau Niue. Identity crisis much? Non. Embracing everyfang...

    It got me thinking:

    I am so disconnected from my culture these days and this was very apparent when I stumbled upon the list of  alagaupu below. Yet, this was part of our learning, growing up and in everyday life. We learnt by seeing and communicating and doing.

    When we as kids had homework for gagana samoa, we had no choice but to go looking for older people to ask for help, and I remember their frustration when they explained things and I was trying to write it down. Because for the elders, our culture is verbal, its not written in books. It's narrated. Chanted. Spoken, Sung, Seen. And there I was with my notebook and pencil. Writing sloooooowly. chooohooo!

    All this is making me want to go home right now.....except, it's the faifeau's peleti coming up.....nevermoind.

    Here's a  list I found online of more alagaupu, but no idea the source:
    Ia manuia evaevaga o le vaiaso,

    Muniao (la’au fa’alava) is a transverse piece of wood placed across the net to keep it properly stretched.
    Fetu’uana’I muniao. To push the cross-piece back and forth (in order to spread the net).
    Upu taofiofi: Look before you leap.
    Ua leai se manu e olo. Not a pigeon is cooing.
    Thus say the hunters when, entering the bush, they notice no sign of the game.
    The saying is used of a family or village where perfect peace reigns.

    E sa’olele le tuamafa I lou finagalo. Your will is as the flight of an old pigeon.
    Tuamafa is an old pigeon, the leader of the flock. It flies where it will and the others follow.
    Ua fuifui fa’atasi, ‘ae vao ‘ese’ese. Gathered into a flock from different parts of the forest.
    The pigeons are scattered in the bush to look for food, to mate, etc. Then they will gather into a flock to travel to another part of the forest whence they will scatter once more. Used of an assembly whose members have come from different villages and who, later on, will disperse again.

    E pipili tia, ‘ae mamao ala. The tia are close together but it is a long way from one to the other.
    Two tia (cleared spaces in the bush for pigeon catching) on opposite hills may be so close together that one can be seen from the other, but because of the intervening valley the way between them may be a long one.
    Thus, two families or two villages may live in close proximity and yet be far removed one from the other through lack of kinship. This was the original meaning of the proverb. The introduction of Christian ideas has given it a wider meaning: Men are living together on earth, but whether they will ever meet depends on the will of God who may send sickness, storms or other obstacles.

    O le fogatia ua malu maunu. The catching place is full od decoy pigeons.
    Upu vivi’I referring to a village that boasts of many experienced orators.

    Ua numi le fau. The string (to which the decoy pigeon is tied) is entangled
    The affair is complicated and difficult.

    E atagia taga tafili. The motion of the hunter’s hand is visible.
    The hunter sitting in his shelter lets the decoy pigeon fly with a toss into the air. If he is doing this awkwardly, so that the motion of his hand can be seen, the wild pigeons will be suspicious and fly away.

    Upu faifai or fa’aulaula: Your designs are too apparent and will fail.

    O le a sosopo le manu vale I le fogatia. A worthless bird flies over the tia.By manu vale is meant any bird other than a pigeon. Should such a bird fly over the tia, it will be ignored by the hunters as only pigeons are wanted.

    Ua le se’I seu fa’aalo. Why do you handle your net without considering the others.
    Pratt translates: "Why do you not steer out of the way?" The word seu has two meanings: to turn the head of a canoe and to catch birds or fish in a net. If it is used in the first sense, Pratt’s translation is correct and the figure is taken from the method of fishing known as alafaga (Nos. 3, 11, 12). If used in the other sense, it refers to pigeon hunting. One of the hunters tries to catch all the pigeons without considering those who have caught few or non. The information I have had from the natives convinces me that the second explanation is the correct one. The translation, then, would be: "Why do you handle your net without considering the others?"

    O le lupe o le taeao. The pigeon of the early morning.
    To catch the first pigeon of the day is considered a special achievement.
    When a chief, with the help of his tulafale, succeeds in obtaining the hand of a noble lady, the latter (as well as the child issued from the marriage) is praised as

    O le lupe na fa’ia mai I le fuifui. The pigeon that was detached from the rest of the flock.
    The same figure of speech is used when the offspring of a noble family had been adopted by another village and honoured with a matai name.
    When the wooing has presented particular difficulties, as through the lack of connections between the families of the bride and the bridegroom, then the young wife and her child are referred to as

    O le lupe na seu silasila. A pigeon caught in the sight of all.
    This figure of speech presupposes that a single pigeon was spied by a hunting party and that it was artfully enticed and caught in presence of all the hunters.

    The tulafale try their utmost to bring about the wedding of their chief and when this is accomplished they are not sparing in flatteries, as they will be well rewarded with the fine mats that constitute the bride'’ dowry.

    Va I lupe maua. To catch one pigeon after the other.
    A successful hunt. Upu fiafia referring to events that bring joy and contentment. Ua vai I lupe maua le aso nei – this is a happy day, indeed.
    A hunter who catches many pigeons rejoices in his shelter. As this is closed on all sides, his companions know another about it.

    Oa’oa I faleseu. Delight in the hunter’s hut.
    The chiefs Lefaoseu of Atua and ‘Ulumu of Tufutafoe were going to have a competition in pigeon snaring. Ulumu politely offered Lefao to take station in the falemua – the front hut. When a flock of pigeons came down, Lefao caught a great number of them before the other was even ready to swing his net. Lefao then cried out:

    Ua tau lupe a Lefao. Lefao’s pigeons are counted (i.e., the contest is ended; I am the victor).
    The competition had not been conducted according to the rules, but it was a fait accompli. Lefao’s people heard the call and repeated it so that the news of his victory quickly spread through the bush and through the town. The surprised Ulumu could not but recognize Lefao’s dexterity.

    Ua malo fai o le faiva Congratulations to the victor

    Ua se togi le seu lagatila Quick as a stone the net flew to the left
    Ma le fa’apulou I tualima Backhanded it swept to the right
    Ua malo fai o le faiva Congratulations to the victor
    Nevertheless ‘Ulumu could not help protesting against his opponent’s unsportsmanlike behaviour, but the latter tried to soothe him with the words: Sau ia, ia e fa’amolemole.

    Ua pona I vao, ‘ae liai’iina I ala. The fault was committed in the bush, but it is now talked about on the highway.
    Applications: (1) The news is not true, but it has spread too far to be retracted. (2) Howsoever cleverly a thing may be concealed, it will come to light at last.

    O le faiva ‘ese lo Pepe. Pepe made a strange catch.
    On a narrow neck of land near Puipa’a in Faleata there was a tia. One day chief Pepe, a visitor, was catching pigeons there. A man from Faleata tried to net one of the pigeons that had been enticed to the tia, but he failed. The pigeon flew away, just skimming over the water near the place where Pepe was hidden. Pepe tried to catch it. At this very moment a fish (malauli) happened to jump out of the water and, with one swoop of the net, Pepe caught both pigeon and fish. The neck of land is now called Tiapepe. The saying is used when some person meets with some unexpected fortune while his thoughts and actions were directed to something else.

    Fa’alupe tupola. Like a pigeon sitting on the pola (plaited coconut leaves used to enclose the sides of a house).
    A tame pigeon having strayed or escaped from its master and failed to find its usual resting place, will sit on the pola of the first house it finds.

    Fa’alupe tumulifale. Like a pigeon sitting behind the hunter’s hut.
    The hunter is interested only in those wild pigeons that appear in front of his hut. Same meaning as No. 106, with particular stress on the fact that the homeless person gets no consideration.

    Fa’asega tu launiu. Like a sega sitting on a coconut leaf.
    The sega is a tiny parakeet, the only bird of the parrot family found in Samoa. As it feeds mostly on the blossoms of the coconut tree, a cluster of blooms is its usual dinner table. Finding no blossoms it will sit on the leaves. Same meaning as Nos. 106, 107, 109.

    Fa’ape’ape’a le tu. Like the swift that never rests.
    Same meaning as the three previous ones.

    Ua sili mea le seuga. The hunting implements are hung up.
    Thus say the hunters when they have returned home from their expedition and hung up the nets, etc. Refer to the conclusion of a speech, a fono, etc. See also the following.

    Ia tala mea fa’asolo. Take down the huts and put everything away. Thus says the leader at the termination of the hunt when the tia is not to be used for some time to come.
    Aumai le u matatasi e fana a’I le lupe ua I le filifili. Bring the one-pronged arrow to shoot the pigeon in the thicket.The Samoan arrows had one or more prongs. A many-pronged arrow could not be used to shoot pigeons in a thicket, as the leaves and branches would have hindered or deflected its flight.
    Ufiufi manu gase. To cover up dead birds.
    As a request: Ia e alofa, ia e ufiufi manu gase. Granting the request: O lenei lava le ufiufi manu gase.
    The wild manutagi, hearing the call of the decoy bird, approaches gradually by hopping from tree to tree

    Sa (matou) tu’u la’au mai nei. We have rested on many trees on our way hither.
    Thus says a travelling party when entering a house, after having previously called at some other villages. (A paraphrase for moemoesolo)

    When the wild manutagi has entered the cage of the decoy bird, the hunter, crying ‘ae’ae, jumps out of his shelter and covers the cage.

    ‘Ae’ae lea manu ua ulu. ‘Ae’ae, the bird has entered (the cage).  When you see an advantage, turn it to the good account. Don’t throw away a favourable opportunity.
    When a decoy bird refuses to call, people say it is to’ia – stricken (with sickness or obstinacy).

    Ua fa’atagito’ia. Like the call of a stricken decoy bird.
    Upu faifai: applied to an orator whose speech does not meet with approval.

    O le manu tafi manu.. A decoy bird that keeps away the wild birds.
    Some manutagi have the bad habit of driving the wild birds out of the cage before the hunter has had time to catch them. Upu faifai applied to a repulsive person whom nobody wants to associate with.

    O le a gase manu vao, ‘ae ola manu fanua. The wild birds shall die; the tame ones shall live.
    This is the order given by the leader when the hunt is to be terminated. The captured birds will be killed; the decoy birds will be given rest. Used at the end of speech, fono, etc.

    Ua aliali le va’ava’a o le tava’e. the tropic bird’s breastbone is visible.
    The bird’s breast feathers are very sparse.

    Ua se tava’e le ausu I le fulu. He is like the tropic bird which is proud of its feathers. Ua maefulu le tava’e. The tropic bird is careful of its long tail feathers.
    According to the Samoans the bird is so proud of its long tail that, being approached from the front, it sits immediately and allows itself to be caught, for fear of damaging its feathers by turning round. If it is approached from behind, it will fly off.

    O le manu sina e le soa. A white bird that has no friend.
    A white tern that is so proud of its glossy plumage that it will not associate with darker birds. In Aana the expression refers to an aitu incorporated in a white tropic bird that lived on Mount Tafua.

    Patupatu amo fale. The clumsy, loutish fellow carries the house. This refers to the preparations for the hunt of the manuali’i. The matai orders his men to build a small hunting hut and carry it with the rest of the hunting implements to the swamp which is the bird’s usual habitat. The heaviest object, i.e., the house, is carried by the strongest fellow – the Cinderella – who has to do all the heavy work.
    Se’I muamua se fa’asao o manu vao. Before bird-catching an offering should be made.
    Refers to the introductory ceremonies to any function, such as the ceremonial greetings introducing a speech, grace before meals, etc.
    When the men prepared for the hunt of the manuali’I they first made an offering to the gods, such as a bunch of bananas. The offering was called fa’asao a manu vao. A bunch of bananas also served as bait for the manuali’i.

    Ua se u ta’afale. He is like an arrow that lies about in the house.
    The hunter watching in his hut lays three arrows in front of him. One is for the birds approaching in front, the other for the birds coming from the right and the third for those from the left. A fourth arrow for emergencies lies behind the hunter and may be shot in any direction. This is the u ta’afale.

    Va I fale ve’a. The space between the huts at the ve’a hunt.
    The ve’a (swamp hen) was shot with bow and arrow, the hunter hiding in a small hut. As the ve’a is extremely shy, the huts were built close together so that the hunters could take counsel with each other in a low voice.

    Ia seu le manu, ‘ae silasila I le galu. Catch the bird, but watch the breakers.
    Ua pafuga le a pei o le faiva o seu gogo. They are shouting together as at the tearn hunt.
    When the hunter has allured the gogo, he pulls in his decoy bird and imitates the tern’s call-note "a" He will be answered by the tern with another "a".
    Applied to people who meet and take counsel together.

    Tavai manu uli. Give water to the black birds.
    There are two explanations: (1) during the hunt of the tern a pause is made for the purpose of feeding the decoy birds. Coconut milk was usually given to the birds. However, if there were but few nuts available, only the valuable white birds got coconut milk; the common dark or speckled birds had to content themselves with water. (2) In the war between the birds and the fishes, a black tern (gogo uli) was killed and eaten by a fuga fish. At the termination of the war the birds held a fono and drank lava. When the cup was presented to the black tern the gogo sina (white tern) said, "Don’t give him any kava; let him drink water; he has disgraced his family."

    Fa’amanu po’ia I le ofaga. Like a bird caught in its nest.
    To be taken unawares. The host, for instance, addresses the words to an unexpected visitor to excuse the delay in having things ready for his reception.

    O le punapuna a manu fou. The jumping about of a newly caught bird.
    A bird that has just been caught jumps about and struggles to escape. After a while it will grow exhausted and surrender to its fate.

    Ua sanisani fa’amanuao. The joy of the welcome was like that with which the birds greet the dawn.

    Ua savini fa’apunuamanu. To rejoice like a young bird on the return of its parent with food.
    The word savini means the beating of the young birds’ wings at their first attempts to fly.


    Monday, October 19, 2015

    Niue Niue Niue - is not the Rock of Polynesia

    The Rock
     I have always known it as, the Rock of Polynesia. With that, came the impression that is indeed a rock, with no beaches and little else.
    This impression is even shared by travel agents throughout New Zealand and Australia, much to the demise of Niue as a destination. It does little to inspire or encourage positive thought about a place.
    We spent 10 days in Niue with family and my God, it is such an amazing, authentic, colourful, exciting place with so so much to do and places to discover.
    So, here's some myths about Niue that I will shut down today and forever:
    Niue is just a rock, barren and very little grows.
    Niue is the largest raised atoll in the world, and while in some parts, particularly the leeward side is uninhabitable, most of the island is thick with green growth and tropical rainforests and thriving plantations.
    Niue also produced the most 'mapo' delicious taro in the Pacific.

     Next Myth about Niue:
    There are no beaches and you have to be physically fit to get to swimming spots.
    WRONG! Not only are there many easily accessible swimming spots, when you get there - the snorkelling is the best in the Pacific.
    This is Avatele Beach - you park the car and take 20 steps to the sea or to the wharf to jump off

    Hio Beach - this took us 5 minutes to walk down to from the car - I am unfit as and I got down (:
    Myth #3: It's so corally and no good for swimming.
    It has the most amazing swimming spots - mainly because there are these rock pools all over the island, which teem with fish and very safe for all ages:
     Utuko Beach
    Standing on the reef and looking down into the rock pools
    Another rock pool at Hikutavake, ---I walked along the reef and took a pic of this ----stunning.
    4. There are scary sea snakes
    Unless you go looking for these, you will probably never see you, and technically, they are scared of humans. They also have very small mouths, so if you do happen to be the dumb human that goes chasing a harmless sea snake, you won't get the bite you really deserve.
    5. There are scary coconut crabs (Uga)
    If you have not eaten a coconut crab yet - wow - you are missing out.
    It's is delicious!
    Coconut crab are called this because they eat, coconuts.
    They rip apart the husks of a coconut and eat the aago (inside) of a coconut, they do this at night. To catch a crab, a light gets shone onto a coconut that a person would have laid as bait.
    Uga is such a delicacy for Niueans (majority of whom live outside of Niue) that at the beginning of this year, Government had to impose a ban on the exportation of uga, mainly by family members.
    Thankfully, I have amazing friends like Ina, Lau and Lina to introduced me to uga. Amen!

     Uga at the Avatele Show Day
    Uga that my darling friend Inangaro cooked for me, along with delicious Talo Niue.
    6. Eh, but there's nothing else to do.
    Shut up already. Because this is only a few of the things we managed to do:
    Drank pina coladas on the deck at Matavai Resort
     Watched the Cultural Night SHow at Matavai on Thursday NIght
     Inangaro Vakaafi taught us how to make the most stunning foufou - ever.
     Watched the fishermen come back with colourful fish at show day
     swam and check out the catch
    Drank coconut and beer at Oki Oki Mai and watched whales swimming
    Found out about the Primary School sports day and got our boy to participate in the ECE comps, throwing the sika
     weaving comp

    Then I paid the kids $3 each to collect hihi at the beach, because I wanted to empower them:
    Then snorkelling and sun bathed at Matapa Chasm (Calanque)...5 minutes easy walk from the car
    which was a fun but got me hungry and ate some tekihi made by Lau's momma:
    We had run out of drinks by then, so we hit the big smoke (ALofi) and stocked up at the Bond Store
    On Mondays, we saw weaving done by the mamas of Tamakautonga at the main fale at Matavai
     and we took the kids for a swim in the pool while the old people had a drink...
    We found out that there was a Photo Exhibition commemorating the Niueans who were in the WW1 and I thought it would be great for the children to learn about this...
     I loved the images from the 60's and earlier...

    thankfully, the dignitaries were just leaving, and my unkempt crowd of little people headed straight for the food, and - like the real island fobs they are ---started eating. I died of embarrassment, but then Aunty Vaaiga came to the rescue and - encouraged them to eat.
    Song in my head *Do your parents feed you*
     Bless her heart! Thank you for feeding the starving children of the Savaii 

    Because all that was work was tiring, we drank some more 'coconuts' and then everything got a bit blurry....
     The End
    PS, this is not a sponsored blog update - I'm also just my own views and if you're offended by it, please go have a drink.
    Fakaaue lahi
     I loved seeing the Toume Race at the Niue Primary Sports Day: 

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    Stand Up for Tuvalu - Tuu Ki Luga mo Tuvalu

    #globalgoals #standupforpacific #standupwithpacific #sdg #Tuvalu Tuu Ki Luga Mo Tuvalu

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    sex, confession, sex, confession again

    Despite this sizzling topic, what I'm about to share is hardly the turn-on you're craving.
    Don't come to me for that! Go gawk at some pics of Channing or somethin' somethin'.

    We all know that women in Samoa - or Samoan women in any country have expectations weighed upon them from the moment they are born.
    A new born babe, who will bring wealth and joy to our home. Amen.
    Some of those expectations include: Ye shall be a virkin until you get married. Uma Upu.
    However, the reality for many young women is different.
    Young virginal and God fearing samoan women sometimes trip over tipos on the way to church or some might be singing into a diffrerent kind of mic on the way to choir practice. But for many others, they are molested, raped usually by someone they trust.
    This does pose many problems for perfect Samoan families.
    The shame they will feel is immense, because people are looking and laughing at your broken ekalesia and madakan virkin.
    Sadly, take away the humour and we accept that incest, rape and subsequently, unwanted pregnancies take place in our community.
    But this isn't the purpose of my faikakala tonight, actually, ua kau galo le purpose o le kala, oh right, confession.
    In our beloved country, when a sin is acted upon, the perpetrator may ask for forgiveness through a ifoga.

    I mentioned ifoga a while back, so I can't be bothered retelling but in brief, ifoga is the practice where you, the sinner and another person/s of your family will cover yourselves with a ie toga (fine mat) and wait in the sun or rain for the victims family to make their decision:
    To forgive or to not forgive and chop your head off or tell you to get screwed.
    What intrigues me about the ifoga process is that in some cases, the perpetrator's family will turn to a church leader to lead their side. Because a man of God will dissuade any ill-feeling or anger.
    Isn't that intriguing? Talk about blurring of the lines between culture and religion.

    ----Ifoga story----

    When my grandfather was a young man, he travelled extensively throughout Samoa. He was a teacher, an a'o pese (music composer) and was also a good looking tall man who was very a masterful orator, he later got into Parliament. Lets cut to the chase. He was hawt and women noticed him. And contraception wasn't in Samoa yet. You figure out the rest.
    When he was married, my grandmother (his wife) told us the many times that they would wake up at the crack of dawn in Fagamalo and out in the front yard, a ifoga was presented.
    I was a little confused when this story was told because I didn't understand why the knocked up woman and her family were asking forgiveness from the man's wife. But that's how it worked. She was in the wrong for sleeping with a married man. Poor married man. NOT!
    Somehow, these ifogas happened a few times haha - and every time, the old lady (Tiatia's mother) will walk out and yank the fine mat off the bowing family members and tell them off for doing this. For she know that her son was the culprit, not the impregnated woman.

    Years later, all the children of my grandfather would grow up knowing each other, some who are awkwardly around the same age.

    I guess I want to write about this to discuss the role ifoga plays in dispute resolution. Performing one, even today can lessen the charges or weight of punishment. As  a community that is about the collective, I guess performing the ifoga showed that the entire family are taking ownership and responsibility for the crime. After all, we are never ever about I, ME the individual, instead, we are the WE, the family, village, etc. We, as a family who will publicly bow and beg for forgiveness.

    It got me thinking about suicide. Specifically, the high rates of suicide in our community. I remember in the 90's - when I was 2 (uh huh) - when Samoa made world news for the extremely high rates of suicide per capita. I remember attending those awareness events where this was discussed. As a community, and the messages were driven by the leaders.
    I think, we, as a community STILL fail at communicating and engaging in dialogue about suicide.
    Why are we quiet about suicide?
    Silence is the killer. Yet, for the honour of our families, we will embrace silence.
    Earlier this year, during one of our youth events, an amazing woman stood and spoke about suicide and the importance of communication, and of all of us being kind to each other. We were reduced to tears. Talk to someone please.
    She made me think really deeply about her message: Be kind to one another.  Yes please. Be Kind.
    I find that so many Samoans are absolute assholes - and this is clearly displayed on social media. Seeing the discussions after Miss Samoa is a classic example of how cruel people are. Cruel, hurtful, malicious and cowardly, against young women to had the the courage to be in the public space, to be judged and criticised. Why do so many of us see the need to do this?
    Kailo se.

    What am I doing now about all this?
    I'm still doing my youth events here but I feel like I can do so much more. Obviously, I have two babes that are the most important kolilas in my life who I want to spent time with. So am being selfish about balancing my time with them and my events.
    One of the most powerful mediums I'm come to rely on, irrespective or age groups have been the telling of fagogos., much like what I'm doing here.
    Somehow, encouraging people to narrated a story, even if it's about snapchat or having no bus fare, does wonders and is hilarious most of the time, but I'm finding it much more fun and meaningful.
    Tomorrow, I embark on another fagogo journey, this time with teenagers -so help me Allah!

    Friday, September 04, 2015

    The Big SIng 2015 - My favourites.

    First time in years I've missed Big Sing, but still managed to cheer on my schools (:
    Here's a lively rendition of:
    Coffee in a cardboard cup - John Kander & Fred Ebb arr Kevin Robinson, sung by Voicemale
    Westlake Boys High School
    Conductor David Squire.

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015

    A sad march long ago and one of hope, today.

    I was reading "The Book Thief" last week and it's such a beautifully written book, a traumatic era of our human history (WWII and the murder of millions of Jews in Germany).
    Buy now on Amazon
    In this book, one of the most saddest parts is of Jews being marched through streets in small German towns on their way to concentration camps.
    Just imagine yourself - living your own life now and imagine then, having your loved ones taken away and being humiliated in public. Tragic.

    Having been in Germany several times., it is heart-breaking to think and to put myself in their shoes:
    To be unwanted and vilified for simply, being them, unwanted in a Germany that had been narrowly defined by one cruel dictator.

    Last night, I finally finished the book and it struck me the beautiful irony on something I saw on the news:

    Germans at train stations waving flowers and welcoming signs to the refugees of war, terrorism and hate.

    It was such a beautiful sight, and to me, it feels so right - that many  have shown their humanity for those who need it most.

    On the same streets, where fear once ruled, humanity has prevailed.

    Photo credit: The

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    You know nothing Jon Youth

    Every generation assumes that they had it tougher than the one that followed. Many will lament about the struggle and the challenges which the youth of today know nothing about. "You know nothing about hard work" they say.
    "Young people today are spoilt" they say.
    "Back in my day, we didn't have ipads"  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    From my own experience, we were reminded endlessly of how our elders walked for days and survived on little to make ends meet. Of having only one exercise book, and a pencil. How lucky are you now. You don't know struggle. They retort.

    In recent months, this sense of disappointment has appeared more frequently on social media, in memes, and photo comparisons. While I have laughed at some, it left me pondering:

    "What are you hoping to achieve?"

    The same group who are disappointed with youth, are the current leaders and influencers who so desperately need the involvement of youth in their work. And nothing isolates youth faster than this blaming 'You know nothing' mentality.

    I do agree, that some of our young people today are straying and disappointing, much like we were to those before us. But perhaps we all need to stop blaming and comparing and accept these facts:
    • That, that was then and this is now. Live in the Now. (And influence tomorrow's leaders
    • What can you do differently, that will help make a difference for youth today?
    • There are many complexities that exist today, compared to the previous era.
    • Social media exists today - something what has added challenges for young people.
    My message for those who are disappointed with youth today is - take the time to know them, in your community and learn more about their worlds. By doing so, you will come to realise their position/perspective and how you, in all your years of wisdom can help.

    More importantly, if more of our community have an understanding of youth today, that's more people who will empathise, understand, and be champions for youth today:

    Here's an example of a young person today who is amazing:
    Click to watch Iavana Seuala

    Ura Tabu Pacific Dance | Moana Poiri

    Absolutely beautiful work Leitulagi (Nat) and co!

    Saturday, August 08, 2015

    My perfect Samoan aunty

    Today, I was feeling generous at the markets and bought my Nana Ev half a dozen oysters, wrapped beautifully in ice packing thingis and laid lovingly next to two lemon slices. or lime, whatfuckenevs.
    I called her number and realise she's not answering. We dropped in at her home and no one was there but she calls me back on her mobile phone., which she calls "my mobol telafone. Niece, call me on my mobol telafone and i'll picky it up".
    She hardly does,
    ANyhow, I told her about the oysters and she said for us to come to her.
    She is at the, pub. "No, at the tavern, come to the tavern niece." (She doesn't drink, she fundraises).
    "Aunty, I have 2 under 8s with me, I can't come to the pub, but drop by home later"
    "Come bring my kids to the pub, I miss them and bring my oysters".
    I hung up and drove home.
    The thing is, I love my aunty Ev and the kids adore her. But her relationship with my kids is like my relationship with my sierra heels. I only wear them when it's special occasions and when I want to feel farken amazing. Similarly, she truly adores them and shows them off to her friends and inside the RSA among an audience.  And much like the heels - they are painful to deal with after a while, so when the crowd disperses, I step out of the heels and Aunty Ev hands back the two little humans.
    In the beginning, I used to be peeved about this, but I have come to accept that she doesn't know any better. She isn't mean about it. Homegirl just aint got no time for little shites. hahaha
    It farken drives me mad sometimes but we are used to it and it makes for hilarious conversations at the dinner table.
    sometoimes. lol

    Tuesday, August 04, 2015

    Sustainable this and that

    "Interesting how the term sustainable was a hit in the 80s -90s, then it got overused/obsolete/disliked/ambiguous and now it's coming back with a vengeance.
    So bad that now it is being used to mean anything really, like, "we need to generate sustainable solutions to rahrahrah and ensure that sustainable outcomes are achieved" Overused me thinks. Now I hope that people can grow up and break down what they mean by sustainable,. and not use it as just another catchphrase.
    If we want the Joe Publics and Sione Polos to get engaged with global issues and "Sustainable" Development Goals, my free advice is:
    - Keep it simple.
    Your Sustainability Goddess.

     #sustainable #sustainabledevelopmentgoals #sustainableBS #kigakaliga 

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015


    The first time I witnessed a ta'alolo was at the opening of the EFKS church in Fogapoa.

    A ta'alolo is where a group(village or family) walk/dance together in song and dance to present gifts at the opening of a new building or church or the celebration of some sort.

    Large fine mats are usually displayed and there is much noise and celebration.

    At the front of the ta'alolo is the dancer - who could be the taupou (female), or manaia (male) or it could also be a chief.

    I enjoy watching the dancing in this occasion because it is more ...jovial and fun., almost too sure at times la lea.

    On the morning of the Fogapoa celebrations, we gathered at Tuasivi, looking down onto the village below - I was young, bored, and wishing I was home but also intrigued at the chaos that surrounded my mom, who was leading the ta'alolo that day.

    The tuiga she wore was gorgeous and so was the fine mat wrapped around her.

    I remember thinking, I want to lead a ta'alolo one day, but the trouble is, I have 3 +1 sisters and the baatches dance better than me.

    I was the cinderfella that carried the bags while the kolilas danced. But hey- I'm fine about it., I'm still young and there are plenty more churches being built. Haha Hhmmm, now where was I?

    Yes---the ta'alolo, it is a beautiful sight and if you ever participate in one, don't forget, be joyful, lively, swing that nifo oti like a bawse and make the most of it.

    One of my favourite modern day pics of a ta'alolo with the beautiful Siainiusami Imelda as the taupou.
    (Photo credit: Image belongs to Leua Aiono Frost).

    The mystery of Pulemelei

    This is the view from Pulemelei Mound in Savaii:....I keep wondering and marvelling at the grandeur and poweress of our ancestors....
     I marvel at their strength in creating these structures (the largest of its kind in Polynesia)
     and then fast forward to today,....
                                                     ....what happened?
    chooohoooo....(jokes bro, just joking Kilisi!)