Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Moana thoughts

I finally got to watch Moana with my family, and I couldn't help but smile hearing Tokelauan, Samoan, Tahitian and many more of our pacific languages sung, spoken, emoted in the film.

Things I thought of:

- The way our motifs were shown throughout was fantastic.
- We have an incredible history as seafarers, voyagers, attuned to our environment and this film was a small reminder of this past.

Things that were awkward:
- That The Rock pronounced Te Fiti as Tay Fidi and Moana as Mow-ana (correct Teh- Fee-Tee and Moh-ah-nah).  
- That designs by indigenous people for thousands of years are now, the creation of some designer in Hollywood. Ufakoms.

I loved that the film allowed me to think of the contradictions that is our Pacific - Oceania world:

1. What I personally loved was the depiction of our community as close-knit and collective.
We do things together and share. Much like our notion of soalaupule. Working together to generate solutions for the betterment of our community.
That community is also, in some cases close-minded and that close-knit-ness becomes a sinnet that stifles debate and chastises dialogue. Our collective nature is wonderful until there is friction, struggle and disagreements, then the village monsters come out.
I highlight this because that is the reality of our community. It ain't all idyllic living. Our closeness also means that there are no secrets among us, words travel the moment they are uttered.
Our togetherness is also a weapon when our loved ones fail or falter.
So let this be a reminder that every postcard perfect island is also someone's home and reality, were real life challenges happen.

2. Woman as leaders or chiefs.
Obviously, this is more so for Samoa and Cook Islands, where women can become chiefs. I loved that in the movie, that the lead character is a young woman who will one day lead her village. I loved that the Grandma is the strong 'mana'ful woman who is at peace with herself and with her surroundings. She doesn't give a shit what people think and she is unfazed by her son being the chief. That character is so true. Our history is decorated with incredible women leaders. And throughout the Pacific, we have Queen Liliu'okalani of Hawaii, Nafanua, Queen Emma, Queen Salote of Tonga, Salamasina, Dame Whina Cooper of Maoridom, Makea Takau Ariki of Cook Islands and of course, Your humble Goddess of Savaii, (You're welcome!) pugi.
On the flipside,
- Less than 10% of women are matai (chiefs) in Samoa.
- Violence against women is rife in the Pacific.
- Have a read of this research on the needs of the Pacific woman when they are the victim of family violence
- Christianity has, in most places demoted women from leaders and chiefs to second class citizens who exist to be a supporter, homemaker, wife, servant to her husband.   

3. Si'osi'omaga: What surrounds us is our environment.
Pre-modernity, we had an incredible connection to our environment. Our language is filled with metaphors and decorated with references to the land, and species and we were accustomed to weather conditions and the ocean. This was well portrayed by the old lady and her spirit becoming a sting ray. When I saw that glow through the ocean, I thought of our how a chief's spirit leaves their physical body and travels to Pulotu through the coconut fronds that are erected along the path. Just wow!
Today, thanks to modernity, Pacific islands are all rushing to be developed, to be economically viable and sustainable. Relying on  aid money to finance programmes created for a market in Shanghai and at the cost of our environment. Incredibly sad and short sighted. I loved that the movie  showed this aspect of our being. We are part of the si'osi'omaga. But we are no longer in tune with our si'osi'omaga, sad fact. We've forgotten many alagaupu (proverbs) and references because we are not as connected to our environment.

4. The late Epeli Hauofa - wrote about the ocean, it is the ocean that connects us - please please please, if you're a pacific person, or if you're not,....BUY THE BOOK and READ it, gift it to your children, gift it to your friend. It is his writing that I thought of when I watched Moana. That the ocean is within us. #wearetheocean.
Buy the book link here: We are the Ocean.
or you can read "Our Sea of Islands" here.

'Oceania' connotes a sea of islands with their inhabitants. The world of our
ancestors was a large sea full of places to explore, to make their homes in, to
breed generations of seafarers like thems elves. People raised in this environment
were at home with the sea. They played in it as soon as they could walk steadily,
they worked in it, they fought on it. They developed great skills for navigating
their waters, and the spirit to traverse even the few large gaps that separated
their island groups.

5. Navigation.
In our Pacific Island Leaders of Tomorrow programme, our themes are based on Epeli's work. We have had actual voyagers with many years experience sharing their journeys, like Hoturoa Barclay Kerr of Tainui, (the kaihautū or leader of Haunui waka)  and Conrad Stanley (Captain of Aurere) - both experienced and both still teaching the art of voyaging to hundreds of young people in Aotearoa and beyond.
They are some of the hard working passionate people of Oceania who continue to teach and influence others about our navigating history.
On the other hand, we have the highest rate of drowning  in New Zealand. Much of our navigation history has become a past - but thanks to geniuses like Mau Piailug who has revived this art for the region. We still have a long way to go but there is hope!

6. I Loved Loved Loved that Moana is a strong, assertive, proud, young woman. She doesn't have a love interest. OMG, that is so so so Samoan/Tongan/Tokelauan/Tuvaluan/Kiribati/etc etc hahaha
One the reality side, we have many many young Moanas walking to church or choir practice right now, who are expected to be God-fearing and will have absolutely no interest in the opposite sex. And that's all very well if youre in an ideal society where a young man will then court you (or rather your dad) and ask for his daughter's hand in marriage.
The thing is, for many Moanas, their encounter with love interest can be accidently, or secretive, or in many cases, it is an act of violence and unwanted. That's a reality which has resulted in many young women ending up with unplanned pregnancies, stds, and sadly - many more are raped by those who are meant to care for them, we also are well known for the alarmingly high rates of suicide in the world.
So, Moana having no love interest was art imitating life to the tee!!!

7. They had a tuiga (:

8. While all this is exciting, I'm already accepting that by having Disney borrow and tell our shared history and story through their cartoon lenses, we have in essence sold our souls to corporate America. That. Is a fact. 
Your tapa cloth, motifs and culture is now game for anyone to copy, replicate and claim as their own.

That's the reality.

Moana was a lovely movie - but its also the reason our designs will now be Made in China and "created and designed" by Hollywood. So when I hear anyone crying about their masi pattern on a catwalk in a year's time, this is the price we pay. You can then spare a thought for the academics who threw caution to the wind and who got vilified for being concerned.
Ga kou o uma lava lea e ai gi kou kalo ae la ua miliogea Disney I la oukou agaguu, ae kago lava le kagaka ia i loga muliogeogea.
Moana is definitely a double-edged sapelu
You're welcome!

Last extract from Epeli's work that I have on my wall :)

                       Oceania is vast, Oceania is expanding, Oceania is hospitable and generous,
Oceania is humanity rising from the depths of brine and regions of fire deeper
still, Oceania is us. We are the sea, we are the ocean, we must wake up to this
ancient truth and together use it to overturn all hegemonic views that aim
ultimately to confine us again, physically and psychologically, in the tiny spaces
which we have resisted accepting as our sole appointed place, and from which
we have recently liberated ourselves. We must not allow anyone to belittle us
again, and take away our freedom.
(Extracts from Our Sea of Islands by Epeli Hauofa from A New
Oceania: Rediscovering our Sea of Islands. USP, Suva, 1993).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fa'agukugukulua:Two faced advocacy

I've come to realise something interesting,

There are people who latch on to any issue or any initiative, to;
1. bring awareness because they care
2. get more likes and shares and popularity
3. because they care
4. because they want to be known and be seen to care

get my drift?


So, what I'm saying here is, it's all very well to stand on the mountain top and proclaim that we need to stand up to the bullies, be supportive and celebrate success.

But when you turn around and condone bullying, oh wait, you become the bully,

then I'm afraid you have simply become fa'agukugukulua, you have developed two mouths and the words falling out of one of your mouths contrasts with what's gushing out of the other.

The Moral of this fagogo is: Don't be a two mouthed coyote.

Be a one mouthed human.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Culture is never still.

It moves.

So when I hear people saying Hold true to your culture, I feel like wrapping you in a culture basket and putting you in a umu.

Yes, that's your Goddess right there.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fagogo lows

In recent weeks, I've had lots more chances to do fagogo sessions with schools and church groups here.

It's all very lovely but there's been moments where I just wanted to leave the room and weep.

Some of the sessions involved young people from very challenging backgrounds. What I was not prepared for was the sharing of experiences that are so sad and heartbreaking, and the 2 other adults I had asked to help with my sessions were weeping in the corner. Thanks guys.
Sometimes, you just gotta stay standing and then find a corner to sulk in  when the crowd has disappeared.

Speaking of sulking,

Recently I went home - and whenever I return, I have weeks where I wonder - what the duck I'm doing with my loife - away from home (Cue - makagaga moments).

In any case, I'm one of those people raised in a family where big girls don't cry. If you're emotional, save your drama for yourself. And so I went into the spare room, shut the door and wept.
I didn't realise La Tuif was in the room (in the cupboard- don't ask, that's another essay) and he yelled out to his sister, "Mom is crying! OMG! Mom is crying!" (Loud enough for the neighbours to hear ). Thanks La Tuif. Anyhow, both little humans hopped in bed with me, patted my head, and then they started making up fagogo to make me laugh at.
Obviously, La Tuif's ones involved lots of superheroes, butts and farts. MM was as usual, a thoughtful measured story that soothed the soul. They both took my tears away and even more so when La Tuif said "I'm only looking after you because when I fell off my bike, you carried me upstairs and gave me candy and watched pokemon with me" Fefe ia pols.

In any case, I feel like this fagogo journey takes its toll on me sometimes but I just have to put on my ninja undies and get on with it.

Doing fagogo has led me to numerous discussions with people - many of whom were raised listening to their elders telling stories. Many who recall their own favourite stories or methods of sharing stories which they recall with joy.  I love that in the midst of a classroom or a church hall, we - grown adults - revert back to our childhood memories and laugh a little - or reminisce about our pasts.

But you see, it's the ones who were not told fagogo who appeal to me the most, because I'm finding out that in the absence of legends, myths, fairytales, chants, poetry and song, sadder stories were more prominent. Stories of violence, drug addiction, rejection and worse, all of which are now forming the fagogos they share in a circle now.

Sharing stories is great, but sometimes, you go home carried the weight of someone's past.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

When tragedy strikes in the islands, Authority response vs Facebook faikakala police response

Every time tragedy strikes, obviously, tragedy strikes.

But in recent years, social media has pretty much allowed anyone to update, share, distort and blow information out of the ocean and beyond.

Again, I wish there was some triggers that kicked in for some humans, specifically Pacific humans - ok, scratch that, Samoan humans, like:

- Don't post if it's not true.
- Don't post sensitive information like, the death of a person.
- Don't post the image of the deceased alongside "kalofa e, RIP" fefe ia aikae.
- Don't share the image because you are contributing to the problem. Ea? Fia maka muamua?
- Don't be a faikakala and be aware that your perchance for 'likes' is at the demise and heartbreak of others.

Recently, an image of a man was shared on facebook, faced down in the ocean.
I know this much because it was shared by a former facebook friend on their timeline.
Shocking, but even more shocking were the idiots who were outraged and then shared, e I ai gi kou faiai? (Do you have brains?)

It reminds me of a famous proverb that nobody said "Ku I le #@* faiai sole".

When I see shite like this, its sad but it's also gives me this sense of defeat about our people and our mindset.

It's like, we go so far but at the end of the day, e makuai valea a o kagaka sole.

Like, really, think about it.

O le kele o kakou fa'afikauli I ge vaikaimi oga o I kakou lava,

ok, goodbye before get hangrier,


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Traversing the narrow edge

I went back to my primary school last week.
It brought back so many fond memories and laughter.
Much has changed - many for the good, thanks to a new management (Divine Mercy).
One of the activities we loved doing at school was this....we climbed the ledge of the catholic church and walked along it, from the easier part right up to the steep side.
We were not allowed but its one of those things , lol....
The medium difficulty part of the edge.....(several children have been injured in this activity,....and got back up to continue to competition chhooohoooo)...
The "DO NOT ACCESS AREA" which some kids still accessed and fell from anyway, oi aue.
 The Back of the church....where we used to walk past to go buy unripe mangoes from Leilua's house next door

View of Apolima and Upolu from the classrooms.

Paddling into the Disney Moana storm because ---i'm bored. (with my parent/learner tuiga on)

It's been a few months now since this has started,
Lots of views, debates. discussions and whatnot.

On one corner are the:
"Oh yay! finally a Disney movie about us, and a character that is Polynesian" 
Then, there's the anti, or against crew, beautifully worded by a Pacific studies academic from Vic Uni on cultural appropriation. Need to find link for this.
There's those in the middle, going, meh.

Then, while I was basking in the Savaii sunshine, the tuiga discussion took off.
I saw it briefly and thought, ...I totally wanna care right now, but can't summon the energy or the passion. So let's park that for now. Back to mango eating and taro chips.

So in brief, now that I'm not on holiday and back to my uneventful existence, I now have time to throw on this discussion.

Q:What do I think of the  movie?
A: I haven't actually seen it, but I saw the wee clips, the Hawaiian Airlines launch, met some of Pacific musicians and artists and some who were consulted in some way.

Q: What do I think so far?
A: It's a Disney movie. Made by Disney, through the lens of Disney people.

Q: Is it a representation of my culture?
A: Yes, as told through the lens of the Disney machine. Definitely a depiction of some of my culture, and that of other Polynesian cultures. I'm not going to own that depiction. It's someone else's depiction made into a palagi movie.
So, ....
People are condemning Disney for assuming to represent their culture. Good on them:

If we are up in arms about how our culture is portrayed, I ask you this:

"What are you doing to affirm, present, and share our culture to our children? others? now, in the past and moving forward"

Aside from the criticism, what am I doing to promote my culture?

It's very clear that this movie will influence a huge number of people - many of whom know little about their ancestry. Many of them will be Polynesian and will therefore be at the peril of being 'cultured' by Disney.
That's the bit which is not cool for me. But at the same time, I personally an not worried.
If I want to influence and share my culture with my children, I do so in communicating with them, in hijacking their class curriculum/teachers, school plan, I do so in how I personally do my work.
It is in this sense that I am a little bit sad, because there are thousands of Pacific people who are not aware of their histories, shared histories and culture. Many of whom will be influenced by Disney's version of their ancestry.

So, what can you do from here on to positively or in some way, influence the learnings and experience of your child? So that they are not 'brainwashed' by Disney's version?

1. Know your history.
2. Know your heroes.
3. Know who you are.
4. Know your place in the world.
5. Know that your identity and your story belong to, and is determined by you.

There are many many resources that you can access which are helpful in raising and informing intelligent Pacific/Polynesian children/people.

Rather than crying foul over yet another white man bullshit, my challenge is always, start with you and create the changes and knowledge that you value, and you love.

Start with these for now:
- Go to a library or online and get yourself a copy of "Our Sea of Islands" by the Late Dr Epeli Hauofa
-Visit a museum near you;
  Follow some museum facebook pages, a good one is Museum of Samoa
- Talk to an elder / grandparent / parent / teacher
- Google events in your area relevant to your culture, like cultural celebrations, festivals, shows etc.
- Buy or get books written by people from your worldview.
- Learn about the history of voyaging in the vast Oceania, and follow the revival of navigation, brought alive by the late Mau Piailug of Satawal Island, Link to Pacific voyagers.
- Learn a few words in your language
- Read a few of the essays by our Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi:
- Be the captain of your own waka.

Okay, I just committed 20 minutes of my life to this update, and that's far too much time,

"Culture is never stagnant. So when I hear people saying Hold true to your culture, I feel like wrapping you an a culture basket and putting you in a umu"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Reviving Pacific storytelling in an ever changing world

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to present one of my fagogo at a Ted Talk event(Tedx Tauranga).
Loved the experience but it was also a great reminder to myself that my 'she'll be right' attitude needs serious re-assessment.
I've always loved telling fagogo, but never in a structured and organised manner - Tedtalk style. So doing this was like getting being crushed in the cage on the last ferry from Mulifanua before White Sunday. You know you'll reach the boat eventually but first, you get pushed, shoved and possibly lifted before you can someone's cigarette breath.
To make life more interesting, I lost my voice the same week and got sick, so I thank the Lawd for making me better that day.
I hope that everyone can get the opportunity to share their stories with their loved ones and be able to sit down together and communicate.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Speaking your truth has reprecussions but failing to speak your truth means that corrupt people will continue to speak for you, and advocate for you, and assume that they are your leader in NZ.

E oo le vao.
Imagine you're deep in the forest, and you think you are alone, so you speak and your voice travels through the trees and into the ears of the person you speak of.(usually this is in the context of speaking ill of someone).
Thus, speak well because even in the depth of the jungle your words will travel.
That's what the proverb alludes but it also is a perfect analogy of why we, from small communities struggle to truly express a view, no matter how well founded or meaningful.
No matter where we are, our voices are never alone, and our views are always connected to us, our families and loved ones.
Now throw in politics and we have a situation called, a shit-storm also known as fucken shit storm.
In a western democratic sense, you can stand on the top of the hill and say, "I support Polo because he is a hardworking member of the community and is truthful and he cares. He is also well educated". You say this because you are aware of Polo's work, saw him support the bill that affects you (eg LGTBI+ gay marriage, anti smoking, education - whatever or googled it).
But if you are from a small place, and you went to school with someone who is connected to the other candidate Pa'u, who is also contesting but was involved in a corrupt deal a few years ago.(You saw this on google and in reality for example).
Then, your voice is going to be wavering in fear of the wrath of Pa'u, and because Pa'u's cousin is your uncle's emplyer's friend's uncle's niece.
Speaking your truth has reprecussions but failing to speak your truth means that corrupt people will continue to speak for you, and advocate for you, and assume that they are your leader in NZ.
I love coming from a small community, but I hate that it is also a tangled sinnet of relationships that are volatile, convoluted, hateful and deceit. Thankfully, there's ways that can solve this: stop going to church, or convert to a palagi church, haha but really.
Bless those churches that are about spiritual enlightenment and not about the financial contributions every week. Amen LoansrUs.
ok, that was me thoughts derailed.
My mantra is the same as last election, question, research and find out what politicians have to offer, their experience, google their names and what you come up with, go to public meetings and ask them questions.
They speak for you and me. Hold them accountable. Question them.
If they are not truthful to you today, they won't be truthful ever.
If they don't advocate for what you care about. Don't vote for them.
All too often, Pacific peopl are misled and blinded by politicians who rely on our familial-loyalty-repect-love relationships.
That era of voting because our parents voted also needs to be looked at. Are they still delivering?Look at the policies they propose.
And the current era of politicians who say they speak for us and are unsure what they stand for.
Ain't nobody got time.
PS: this post is about nobody in particular, so don't get your tarpaulines in a twist unnecessarily.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What would you do?

I have 2 scenarios for you today:

Scenario One:
A 'father', in his anger grabbed hold of his teenage daughter by the neck and attempts to choke her.
His family sit at the house nearby. And do not respond.
He slaps her violently. Repeatedly.
Only one person attempts to come to her rescue.
He continues.

Next scenario:
As she sits sulking in a public area (a burger place) among other people, he slaps her so hard that the other diners sat staring.

I have a question for whoever is reading this today.

What kind of person are you in the above situations?
Are you like the family above who sit back and let the 'father' lash out, because he is angry?
Are you the diner in a public place who minds their own business?

Whatever you do, I hope none of the above would happen to your loved ones. Let along a young woman who is stronger than most people I know. And someone who has so much to offer. SO much love and kindness and laughter and joy. No one deserves this, perhaps in my mind, the perpetrator themselves. If I could, that person would be maimed.

And so I tell you this, to those who let this happen:

"You have no heart, no love, no care in the world. You let a child get beaten. And then in the aftermath, you tell her, "Fa'alogo lelei I lou kama ma keige lelei"
Listen to your father and be a good girl"
You are cowards and you are as much- the violators as your own flesh and blood.

Just because you were raised in a world where getting a hiding is 'the norm' does not make it ok for that same (or rather, worse) beating is inflicted to someone else.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Justifying my absence, to myself really.

In the back of my mind, I had planned to do 1 blog update a week, this year.

So far, I have buggered up that plan in a big way.

on some weeks that I do update, its more of a kuluku job.

but on the bright side, I have been really busy doing several projects.

1. Reviving the art of storytelling as I know it, but with a fun twist :)
I've been telling fagogo in real life, and I'm a lot more organised and proactive about it this year.

As of July, I have covered 42 schools, and have returned to several in my area, ones that I have established relationships/connections with.

The things I'm proud of are:

- I'm more organised and clearer about what I am capable of
- I'm owning this, and not shy to speak my mind
- I'm happy
- I love what I'm doing,
- The kids seem to like it and most of the teachers I've worked with have asked for content and a repeat.

The things I suck balls at are:

- Planning my schedule well. I am crap at this.
- Saying NO. I can't summon the intelligence sometimes to just say NO. So I end up scrambling because I said YES to 3 schools in one day and they're far apart.
- Being assertive and bold about what I do.

2. Creative Project
Tuiga making is ongoing but sometimes that gets old, so I've been super thrilled about doing pieces this year that are not tuiga, some for actual dance companies (that pay well and don't do the kuluku, fangs much) and also making pieces for families to keep or to present.
If I win the lottery one day, (if I buy a ticket), this is what I will do full time: doing creative projects, storytelling, and getting a boob job. (Pugi).

3. The children
The children tend to keep me busy most days- MM is doing great, absolute bookworm, loves socialising with her friends, loved school, loves learning, and is such a sincere soul(unless it comes to her brother). She is a blessing this girl.
The Tuif, is a different story. I love him but my love for him is tested about 2 times a day. We have him playing rugby, swimming but he still has a truckload of energy to keep us on our toes. There are words I describe Tui, its ulu malo, ula vale, ulu ka'e. But to the palagi teacher, he is an inquisitive child with a lot of energy. Thankfully, he has calmed down a bt now that he's in school., he's slowly getting the memo, but his answers every night at the table are:

Q: What was the highlight of your day?
MM: I loved doing our compulsory task and doing jazz with my friend Maia.
Tui: I don't remember.
Tui: I liked playing outside
Tui: I liked eating lunch with my friend Ed, I ate his lunch because I ate mine at morning tea.

Q: On a scale of 1 being horrible and 10 being Excellent, how did you do in school today?
MM: 8
Tui: 10.
(And then the teacher emails to say he was sent to the BatCave (Principals office) again.
I think he is mixing 1 with 10, hah.

4.  My actual job
I love how my actual paying job is low on the list of reasons for being busy this year. Thankfully, I'm not as career crazy as I used to be. I'm quite happy with the balance at the moment, and work is work.
If, say that tomorrow, I got hit by a bus, or by the Tongan althete's flagpole and then died smiling, the fact will be, no one will care about the job. But your loved ones? They're the ones that matter and the ones who'll be saying
"Fefe e ia ogakae


Enter choy yourself. bullshit update turned out pretty, bullshitty. haha


That coconut oil covered man.

I saw the pic of the Tongan athlete and Konai Helu Thaman's poem came to mind....

You come clad in your fine mats and tapa cloth
Your brown skin bursting with fresh perfumed oil...

Your eyes shining like stars in a clear night
YOU, the choice of my parents.

You will bring them wealth and fame
With your western-type education
And second-hand car.
But you do not know me, my prince
Save that I am first born and have known no other man;
I fit your plans and schemes for the future.
But you cannot see the real me
My face is masked with pretence and obedience
And my smiles tell you that I care
I have no other choice

The priest has left the altar now
And the dancing has begun;
I see myself dying slowly
To family and traditions;
Stripped of its will and carefree spirit,
Naked on the cold and lonely waters
Of a strange family shoreline
Alienated from belonging truly.
I love as a mere act of duty
My soul is far away
Clinging to that familiar ironwood tree
That heralds strangers
To the land of my ancestors
I will bear you a son
To prolong your family tree
And fill the gaps in your genealogy.
But when my duties are fulfilled
My spirit will return to the land of my birth
Where you will find me no more
Except for the weeping willows along the shore.

Ia ua lelei makagaga - choohooo.,...

so um, yeah - what was this update about?

...I was thinking, that all the palagi women who were swooning thinking, imam get me a Tongan man.

Ae taunuu atu le va'alele ae welcome mai I le:

Ofa atu,


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We interupt this program to announce this message

I remember the time my siblings and I waited for the bell to ring so we could run to the ute that is parked under the breakfruit tree.
Where the fat old lady sat among german buns, home made ice pops, sugar buns and quarter loafs of white bread, layered with sweet sweet siamu popo.
...And biting into the bread and the smell of burnt sugar overwhelms your senses.
oh life was grand.....
so imagine my happiness when I came across this on the shelf of my local fruit shop?
Straight from home!!
Email me if you want some choohoooo!
ok, back to our health and wellbeing notices.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Money tuiga is not samoan culture. its samoan culture created by samoans in america, so its american/samoan new culture.

Money Tuiga is something that has been made popular by Samoans in the States in recent years.
It is NOT a tradition (well now it is in America among those who have been doing it for a while).
But please -----know that it is something that is recent and is not a MUST in a graduation.
It's yet an example of how we take our cultural values, inject cash and no class into it until you're broke as a mo'fo and then call it culture.
And for families who are unsure and feeling pressured, DO NOT DO IT.

If you have cash growing on the tree outside your house, go for it. If you are well off and have money to throw away, do it. Make a money tuiga, but please, if you can't afford it - Don't do it.

What is it with our people and the obsession with "Bigger and Better and Grander!"

This is why we have so much dramas, because we bend over backwards to look fab ae uma ae le fa'auuga kago I le u.f.a.

And that, my darlings, should hopefully stop people from emailing me about making money tuigas. lol.


#tackyculture #culturemisconstrued

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Samoan word of the day, Aitalafu

My samoan word of today: aitalafu.
Definition: when money is borrowed without the assurance or commitment to pay back. Ever.
Use of the word in a sentence:
My cousin came over to aitalafu $500 for her great aunt's uncles' wife's grandmother's funeral last year and I have not heard from her since.
‪#‎samoalanguageweek‬ ‪#‎learnsamoan‬ ‪#‎aiafu‬

Samoan word lesson of the day

Samoan word of the day: loia.

Three meanings:

1. direct transliteration of lawyer. The loia's fees are expensive and even worse is that they lost the court case.

2. Ant infestation: Ua loia le ipu ki, The cup is full of ants. ...

3. The stage where you have eaten and you are full but you continue eating until you are loia, lethargic and unable to function. Use in a sentence, Eh, ua ka loia lava i le aiga o le fasipovi masima. (Behold! I am loia from eating that salted beef).

So essentially, you could say that:

The loia left the court room and realised his suitcase was loia from the chocolates his girlfriend left in there. Thankfully, his wife had prepared him a scrumptious meal of fuarose and taro which made him very loia.

Happy Samoa Language Week. ‪#‎samoalanguageweek‬ ‪#‎keepitfun‬ ‪#‎entachoy‬ ‪#‎lavaiageimea‬ ‪#‎fagogo‬

Your Samoan Language Class Topic tonight: Emotions.

Welcome to your evening edition of Samoan language classes that you didn't sign up for🤔.
Take a seat on the virtual mat.
Oh wait, lie down and pretend you're in a fale and your Granma is about to tell a fagogo (bedtime story).
Tonight, we focus on emotions and how to decipher these:
Happiness (Lagona fiafia)is expressed through laughter. Or tears. But you can also slap the giver of happiness lightly on the shoulder.
Oh harder if you really like them.
A friendly punch means he she wants to copulate with you in the near future.
Kala mogi - True story󾮖🏾
There's different types of laughter and levels that only your mother can read. A loud cackle can be deciphered as aka kauvalaau, a laugh to attract attention from a potential partner.
Samoans take laughter to the next level. If there was an Olympics for laughter, we'll win.
Samoans laugh when:
- Someone falls down
- someone drops their lavalava
- someone cries
- they don't know the answer2questions
- when they're nervous
- when they're angry (aka ae Koko Le pupula)
- when someone doesn't speak English properly(even if they too can't speak it
(Aka aamu)
- someone feigns interest
- someone doesn't have a clue what's going on
- when they're broke and want to be in favour with someone nearby with money who cracks unfunny jokes
- when they are genuinely happy
- when they're being deceitful or sly - also known as aka kaufaasee- laugh that will make you slide down something).
Continuing on with emotions, males or females can write to each other, and the language will put Shakespeare to shame.
A popular beginning to love letters can be "It's as if yams are growing on my body when I first see you. It is exceptional the feelings that overcome me, it's exceptional your beautiful, my spirit elopes from my being when I think of you. My rock diamond and precious shell in the deep ocean. I want to eat your oyster"
Oh sorry class, wrong edition.
Back to PG version:
Happiness is shouting out chooohoooo or clapping (Pati Pati)
Samoan humans are generally happy people. We are happy when our loved ones are well, when our children are successful, when our lotto ticket comes out with a win, when a bowl of Palolo is placed before us.
Sometimes, being happy is tiring.
And my happy post has come to a happy end.
This is dedicated to the Queen of aka kauvalaau Hoy who is also my friend and inspiration this week.
Ia manuia faiga story kaeao HoyHoy Neng Wong Soon maua se ai nice󾍇
#samoanlanguageweek #entachoy #getbetterworkstories #betterlivingeveryone
Disclaimer to insert󾌴

How to determine whether someone is your cousin or not.

My apologies for missing yesterday's ‪#‎samoalanguageweek‬ class - I had a busy day of faalavelave (definition; Events that impact one's mental health and financial capabilities resulting in early aging).
But,...I'm back!😀
Today's topic: what constitutes a "cousin" in the Samoan worldview?
Cousin is defined as someone who is well known in the public arena such as sport, film, music, sometimes education and so forth.
For instance,
Sonny Bill Williams is my cousin.
Joseph Parker is my cousin.
Boom Bullet, is not mine, but YOUR cousin.
Seiuli The Rock is my cousin.
Albert Wendt is my cousin.
In essence, we are not actually related but we call this sudden urge to relate as "Fia Falealili fua": possibly similar to young kiwi males' emotional urge to break out into the haka when consumed with pride. In London.
Normally, someone is your cousin until they are in trouble.
When David Tua was winning - everyone claimed him as their cousin, but when he struggled, all the cousins disappeared. Thus the adage, "Uo mo aso uma a'o uso mo aso vale"
Friends for most days(good days) but brothers or family on the bad days).

Speaking of uso (watch me go off on a tangent now):
If I hear one more male call me Uso. I'm going to 😡 you. Uso is what a male calls its brother, or a sister calls her sister.
Unless I grew balls, I am not your uso, Uce😡. Smile (👊🏾not a friendly punch).
Now back to cousins, I don't actually use the Samoan word for cousin other than to say, this is my mother's brother's daughter Va'asiliifiti Diana Tiatia.
(Cue: sad song/pese faanoanoa).
I think we are blessed to be in a culture that values family(aiga) and is so entrenched on the collective as opposed to individual gain. Samoans will be millionaires and excelling should it ever be about the individual. But we know that an individual's success is a community's effort.
There's much to be proud of ...but there's much more to weep about.
I just read Tuiatua's independence speeches (my uncle by the way:) and he alluded again to our navigating history and the role of the tautai😍the skilled navigator. But, around me and I see the highest level of drowning are Samoans.
We were skilled orators according the Late Epeli Hauofa and now we struggle with literacy and numeracy.
My point is, we are an ethnicity that bursts at the seams with potential and then, kailo se, (don't know).
Think about this:
For every successful cousin, there are 50 more whose vaka is straying off course.
But don't despair, we all have the capacity to influence someone's journey towards their destination. Even in your everyday loife 😍.
My challenge for any Samoan on earth today is this: you have what it takes, you are worth it. Own it.
"You are my cousin😍"
Think of all the cousins, even those in strife, struggling, and down. Be a champion for them. Today.

How to make french crepes. (Instructions for Samoans).

Pretend you're making Samoan pagikeke, but:

It's more liquidy. That you can pour.

You add egg.
Do more milk.
Pinch of salt,
and the pan ideally is a crepe pan,

1 cup plain flour

(I prefer to add sugar here to make it sweet and perfect addition for diabetes).
Mix ingredients, even better if you leave it in fridge then use a few hours later.
Then get Nutella, or lemon and sugar, banana, jam, maple syrup, whatevs.

Have fun!






Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Snakes in Samoa

Seeing all the dramatics about snakes in Samoa and I wish I could punch people in the face through the screen.

Snakes have been in Samoa since the first Samoans got there,
We have snakes in our legends and we have snakes that live inland, in cool dry places and in plantations.

The snakes we have are not poisonous or dangerous.

Just talk to anyone from Asau or Aopo, they are well known for their snakes, and I'm not even talking about the legless ones.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Mom, I'm the taupou for our group and I need to find things to wear" whaaattttt, why would you do that?

If I charged a dollar for every email/message/text I send to panicky/stressed/confused parents about preparing for a performance, I would be making enough money for... half a MENA or a quarter of a TAV skirt.

Obviously a lot of the messages start with wanting to borrow/buy/enquiry about making a tuiga.
Then, a fine mat, any fine mat.
Then, the questions start coming fast and furiously about:
-What should a taupou wear?
-Where can we get a nifo oti? and does she really need one?
-Who can weave us a fine mat?
- Can we have one of your tuigas but pay you nothing for it?
- Can we borrow one but can you drop it off?
-Why why why did my daughter/son have to go and get chosen???
- What else can we do?

So I thought, I'll explain it here and just cut and paste it from now on.

You have been chosen
Being chosen as the taupou (female) or manaia (male) is really great and exciting (cue, be proud of your child, pat on the back, not a ku'i). Being chosen generally means they are a great dancer (or the decision was rigged, lol).

What does it mean?
Your child will be performing the main dance, which is called the taualuga. Thankfully, I'm also a Goddess of Dance so let me say this, the taupou/manaia's ability to dance that taualuga can make or break the entire performance, (no pressure at all). Taualuga means ceiling, and refers to the last last part of the fale(house) that is built. As soon as you throw on the taualuga, the job is done. So the taualuga performance is considered the grand finale and will be performed by the dancer, however, the whole group will be involved in singing, aiuli'ing, fuakaimi, clapping etc.

What do you wear?
A female/male who dances the taualuga could wear either a:
1. Fine fine mat (ie samoa/soft) or if you can't get one, any will do. It's not the end of the world if you can't find an old one. Any fine mat will have to do.
2. You could also wear a siapo, tapa cloth that has mamanu designs on it.
3. The third one which not many people outside of Samoa do, (but is actually the cheapest, most authentic and more meaningful, is....making it out of leaves.
4. A modern version made of fabric.
5. The forth option is combining any of the 4 above.

What's the damage, money wise?
At the recent Polyfest, I just about wept at the amount of money some dancers' families had to spend. One had forked out over $3000 for the dancer's teuga, most of which were items bought from shops or from Samoa. I will reiterate this here, It doesn't have to be that way.
Aside from buying a tuiga from me which is a fraction of the cost elsewhere. hah
If you actually combine materials as I've mentioned above, then the cost doesn't have to be excessive.
Leaves. Are. Free.

What if I borrow people's stuff?
Perfect. That means you're not having to pay for everything yourself.
But, keep in mind that whatever you borrow, is precious to that family/person.
Treat everything with care. And most importantly, RETURN it right away.

Before lending my tuiga/nifo oti/ fine mat or whatever other items, what should I do?
From my experience, if there are 10 Samoans in a room and all borrowed something of the above, 6 will not return it until you chase them up, 1 will do a runner with it, 2 will return it late and damaged and if you're lucky, one will return it on time, undamaged.
Keep this complicated scientific formula in mind, because I'll be the first to say, "Told ya!"
Obviously I've been screwed over so many times I've now lost all sense of diplomacy.
My lessons learned are simply this:
  • I no longer encourage lending.
  • Just because someone is your family relation of friend, doesn't mean they'll look after it well.
  • Charge. And lay down the terms and conditions before lending.

While we're at it. please please taupous
Do not imitate a now well know ninja like fa'ataupati that shows up on youtube as part of your siva. That is comtemporary. Not siva samoa. Save it for your comtemporary performance in your room.

Is all this stress worth it?

When should I start planning
Two months ago. Not 2 days before the performance.

Advice for aspiring taupous/manaia
-Tell your family right away that you've been chosen.
-Use the opportunity to learn more about your culture, siva, let your family know what's up.
-Don't be a dramaqueen/king about all this, its expensive and stressful for your family, so don't be a dick.
-Enjoy the experience and be grateful and lastly, thank everyone who has helped you with your preparations.
-Email me if you want to order a fabulous tuiga or like my FB page, Tuiga by FotuoSamoa. (No last minute requests allowed thanks).

You're welcome,

Goddess of Taualuga and all things amazing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Your ancestors didn't sleep like you"

I recently read interesting research about the European's sleeping habits in the 18th century and it got me thinking about how our own ancestors slept.

I know that John Williams on his arrival to Samoa - particularly in Savaii referred to some of these 'habits' and it got me very very intrigued, enough to write a proposal about it for a thesis and then a sensible person who I look up to said, are you out of your $*&^%*&% mind? A thesis on sleep aint gonna get you nowhere. Which I find funny because I did it in something else and I'm still nowhere choohoo!

So how did our ancestors sleep?
Most slept on a mat. But not any mat. We had a distinct mat for sleeping, another for everyday tasks/walking on, we had mats for playing tau'lafoga (long mat that is rolled across and shells tossed across it, and then our different fine mats that the oldies used to carry in special embroidered cloths or placed carefully under kapok-filled matresses.

But back to the sleeping.

We slept on mats. And sometimes, on thick layers of mats if you were high rank.
We also had tapa cloth for cover, or ti leaves that are woven together
We did not have pillows, but we did have ali, which is a wooden frame that is used for your head to rest on.

Sleeping Pattern
Because of the tropical heat, our ancestors used to get up very early and make the most of the early morning coolness. Then when the sun beats down, they will rest or sleep  until the heat eases before continuing their work till dark.

Another thing we did in the past was to sleep inside a samoan fale which was covered with smooth rocks. There would have been a fire in the midst which is lit in the evening.

Our sleeping mats were always rolled up and then shoved above the posts until its time to go to sleep.

Fagogo before bedtime
One of the things I absolutely loved as a kid was lying down alongside my siblings and hearing a fagogo being told by my grandmother. I know many Samoans would be familiar with this. Highlight of my day when a fagogo was told. Totally beats any movie or electronic gadgets today.

Sleep Hazards, Moetolo
One of the things that is an absolute hazard of sleeping in Samoa are men who walk in their sleep and then attempt to have sexual intercourse with a woman in her sleep. Academic writing sometimes claim that this 'sleep walking' is sometimes 'condoned' by a woman. But I reckon that's absolute shet.
It's called rape. Sex without consent. Incest in many cases. That's our wonderful Samoa, let's not pretend everything is perfect in our sleep.

Other sleep hazards in Samoa
Our ancestors believed in different gods. There were gods of the land, rocks, animals, trees, breeze, and the most important god of all was Tagaloaalagi. We believed that some of these gods roams in the midst of the night and we still believe this in many villages.

Palagi observations
When palagis come to Samoa, they are bemused at the number of people that are asleep in the middle of the day. But they don't know that for many in the rural villages, their day has actually been full of activity such as going to the plantation, fishing, weaving, making food, etc.
But then of course, many have actually only gotten up to go buy food from the shop and are now sleeping and expanding everyday from have zero exercise in their routines.

What has changed?
Everything has changed.
Many Samoans now sleep in soft beds, bought from shop while some still sleep on mats. The ali (the wooden frame that you lie on) is still used by some oldies, but most now use pillows. Many still get up early to do work and then rest in the middle of the day.

What has not changed though, is that moetolo still roam, and young women, men and children are sexually violated in the homes while they sleep. Sometimes by someone they love and trust. In the dark of the night.

Think about it for a moment.