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......