Guest Writer

Odette's Kitchen: A local resident's review

By Leone Samu 

'After so many requests to view what’s on offer here it is: Odette’s Kitchen Pacific Fusion Dinner Menu’…

A little over a month ago it was this opening sentence of a Facebook post that caught my eye while scrolling through my newsfeed late one night. It accompanied a picture of a dinner menu that I had to zoom in to read but when I did, I found myself taking multiple screenshots of because of the attention-grabbing descriptions under items like ‘taro gazpacho salad’, ‘surf and turf island style’, and ‘palusami ravioli’.

I made a mental note to visit Odette’s Kitchen ‘someday’ until stuff got real and fast when I clicked through to their Facebook page and discovered this promising new spot for Polynesian food was about to open not somewhere in central or south Auckland but in my own hood: Papakura. As in, WAY deep south Auckland. As in, the last motorway off ramp along State Highway 1 before you start seeing farms sheep and dairy cows.…more


Guest Writer

Reflections from the Intersections

By Patrick Thomsen 

When your job literally is to question the ways in which society portrays groups of people through various representations, being positioned at the margins gives you unique insights into the ways in which words shape and form people’s positions in this world. But it also condemns you to a life where you’re pummeled by relentless attacks on social and mainstream media.

Some people would say that I’m a victim of my own inability to overcome the “Oppression Olympics.” That all the hate speech that I encounter against minorities is because I seek it out myself.

I can assure you that they’re most certainly wrong.

No one in their right mind would ever choose this life. To sit in the shadows of intersections, where multiple forms of social exclusion conspire to drain you of not only your self-confidence, but on particularly bad days, your will to live.…more


Guest Writer

I'm Tongan - My Mother: “Girls DON’T Box, Respect Yourself and Your Body…."

By Joanna Bourke 

Yes – Im 100% Tongan, born and raised here in Aotearoa. As the eldest of 5 siblings – I had a somewhat strict upbringing – and only has been in the last 10 years have I come to understand that it has a lot to do with being a female – and being Tongan.

Today I spend most my time living in Tonga – immersing myself in the culture and the community to help make a difference – and on the face of it – looks straightforward.

Yeah right!

It gets frustrating at times – but you develop a resilience to just push through despite the challenges.

The Challenge

Being a woman – one who is educated and experienced – it doesn’t mean shit in Tonga. People get by and succeed by who you know – and not necessarily what you know – but over time (a long time) people get you – they get you – but yet they are still dubious – eventually – the penny drops.…more


Guest Writer

JOSEPH PARKER - Despite Loss Still a Champion

By Malama T-Pole 

I’ve been reflecting tonight on Joseph Parker’s fight against Anthony Joshua this morning.  He held the weight of his Samoan and New Zealand fans on his shoulders.  Easter Sunday church services, were pushed late at some Pacific Island churches to accommodate the fight. 

Even my dad, a retired church minister who hates to be late to anything, declared he will be arriving late to church because of the fight.  In Samoa, high schools and workplaces have been competing in a fun Parker cheer contest that have rallied the nation behind their hero.  But, I wondered, how do our community feel about Parker now that he has lost? 

Tonight, I was standing on my veranda watching the neighbourhood kids who gather to play on my front yard.  Every evening, this group of boys come and ride their bikes or play tag or hide and go seek with each other.  But tonight was different.…more


Guest Writer

Containing Multitudes

By Courtney Sina Meredith

In a rare interview on a Skype call from New York, award-winning writer and filmmaker Toa Fraser chats with Courtney Sina Meredith about the 20 year odyssey that’s taken him from a small car park in Auckland to the world stage.  Fraser, the creative alchemist behind films No. 2, Dean Spanley, The Dead Lands, Giselle, Six Days, The Free Man, River Queen, myriad of television projects like ‘Penny Dreadful’ ‘Into the Badlands’, the latest Marvel series of ‘Daredevil’ the ‘IronFist’ and a new Australian series ‘Tidelands’.  Not to mention plays and he's just made history in 2017 by being the first director to have two films in the New Zealand International Film Festival.   

 Courtney SM: How is it that you have the most varied directing portfolio of any Kiwi director?  Is that a representation of you essentially?

Toa Fraser: I do feel it is a representation of me.…more


Guest Writer

FA'ALAVELAVE - Building resilience, strengthening family ties and losing your penti in one single phone call

By FotuoSamoa Jackson

I feel like sharing with you all a fagogo about this fascinating topic this week, thoughtfully entitled; Fa'alavelave – Building resilience, strengthening family ties and losing your penti in one single phone call.

Aue! (That is the word you’ll utter in agreement as you read this life changing story that you never really knew you needed in your life).

But first of all, before we get to the losing penti part, let’s set some context, so you can ease yourself into this fagogo. Let’s picture you, a woman or man of Samoan descent, living in a modern world, minding your own business. You have families all over the world, US, Australia, NZ, Samoa and wherever. Yipeeee, “Samoan Pride” is etched onto your uneven chest tattoo. Good for you Sione/Sina/ insert your name here!

But every now and then, you get told that someone has died, or that you need to contribute to a church/village/family event. And so in response, you do, or don’t – because everyone is different.…more


Guest Writer

One Samoan Identity to Rule Them All?

By Patrick Thomsen

Identity is of grave importance for all who are thrust into the mystifying space of diaspora existence. As a child of a very Samoan family, much like others in our community who made their way to New Zealand during the late 70s and 80s in search of economic prosperity, the question of what it means to be a ‘real’ Samoan has haunted me my entire existence.

Judging from the repetitive, voracious arguments on social media around cultural authenticity, it’s a question that haunts many of my fellow Samoans too. And finding the answer to this question has proven harder than finding a needle in a tatau themed haystack. 

On Samoa’s treasured islands, passage into adulthood has been marked for centuries through the bestowing of a pe’a or malu onto an individual.…more


Guest Writer

MANU SAMOA: A Viewer Comments

If we are all honest with ourselves, then there is no surprise the Samoa Rugby Union is broke.  Who could have guessed that after years of financial mismanagement and corruption the once mighty Manu would be brought to its knees in such an embarassing fashion?

Well we all did really.

The fact that it happened today doesn't make it any easier to swallow. The alarm bells were there, and culminated in a player revolt at the 2011 World Cup.  The promises made by the board and the Prime Minister have changed nothing.  The levels of corruption at SRU must be so deeply rooted you would need Wonder Woman and all her sisters from the girl island to dig for a thousand years before you could weed it all out.

Yes there were a few that fought a good fight in the name of the Manu and it's players, but most of them, where it most mattered sat back and enjoyed the ride.  In a sense I'm glad it has come to this.…more


Guest Writer

I DON’T WANT TO BE A CARER, I JUST WANT TO BE A DAUGHTER

By Grace Taylor 

Something you would not expect the daughter of a Samoan woman to say, but yeah, I said it.

Being afakasi, my mother tongue was not a fluent language for me but what I did learn was fa’a Samoa. Mostly as an observer and occasional participant. By the time I was in my mid-20s I had learned how to navigate the politics of my afakasi-ness well. This fringe dwelling position granted me the ability to exercise analyzing the sociology of fa’a Samoa from the perspective of one that dips her toes in each worlds simultaneously. Two key principles of fa’a Samoa is alofa (love) and aiga (family). Whilst I have only been surrounded with my immediate aiga in my daily life, these two principles are entrenched in my DNA. This means that when these things are absent or lacking in my life, they are missed. Therefore, I ensure that as a single mother my son is surrounded by love and has as much access to quality time with both my aiga and his fathers.…more


Guest Writer

CONVERSATIONS WITH TEEN MUMS - KAEL

Auckland filmmaker Juliette Veber began her just-launched website documentary project Conversations with Teen Mums with the aim of challenging the stereotypes of young mums. 

The project began in 2013, when Veber noticed a New York City advertising campaign shaming teen mums. It included slogans like, ‘Because of you mommy, I’m less likely to get a college degree’.

Veber recalls, ‘I found it offensive. I wondered what it would be like to be a pregnant teen or a young mum reading a campaign filled with negative stereotypes and lacking in any kind of hope or encouragement’.

Over four years Veber documented the lives of 16 young mums, sharing their stories, perspectives and experiences in photos, text and film on the website.

‘I looked for subjects who aimed to get off the benefit and into work. Young mums with hopes and dreams, who wanted to offer their children opportunities and choices in life.’

‘The project is not about glamorising teen pregnancy.…more