Guest Writer

Return Taonga to Sender

By Timena Apa 

The corridors stretched on and on, eerily vacant and immaculate, like walking quietly through a dream. Our small group of nine, mostly women, said a prayer before pushing through large white doors. I had no idea what we were here to do.

As we entered the next room, I expected a crowd to be waiting for us; I was under the impression my Pasifika sisters would be performing to the public. There was only silence and another empty hallway. Rosanna Raymond led us down the polished floor, her waiata awakening the dormant space. I walked with my sister Jahra, tears rising as the energy shifted.

It wasn’t until I noticed the steel units, each with spinning vault handles that I realized where we were…inside the storage section of the American Museum of Natural History. We were there to open up the Pacific repository, a place where our taonga had been sleeping for decades, waiting patiently for a chance to breathe.…more


Guest Writer

FROM HIGH HEELS TO THE VILLAGE HILLS

By Floris Niu

Leaving the corporate world of NZ for my village Cacao farm in Samoa is a journey into nature, customary land, village life, organic Cacao growing plus re-discovering & re-inventing my island diet…

I had been stuck in a corporate job in NZ, making good money, for almost 2 decades yet my life was going nowhere. I worked so hard and for long hours that my body broke. Yes, your body can break and it warns you about this break-down through sudden and unexplained illness.

Sometimes life tricks you into thinking that everything is going so well…you’re becoming a success and achieving all the goals you thought were important in your life.

Then BOOM! In a split second, you end up in emergency surgery fighting for your life. You end up having serious conversations with God about giving you another chance because you had so many plans…and much more to live for.

I’m almost certain that I am not the first person to bargain with God during a “near-death-experience” episode.…more


Guest Writer

'Raise a Paddle' – A journey of Pacific Climate Warriors

‘Raise a Paddle’ is a short documentary that follows a small group of Pacific Climate Warriors as they embark on a journey to the Canadian tar sands. It tells the story of how an oil pipeline expansion all the way in Canada, can affect our small Island home here in beautiful Samoa. President Justin Trudeau’s recently approved pipelines will not only destroy sacred land for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, they will also contribute to the worsening effects of climate change in the Pacific.

Last week, Samoa was privileged to have a group of the Pacific Climate Warriors in town to present a community screening of ‘Raise a Paddle’ and shed light on this important issue. The event was open to the public and it encouraged ALL to attend and engage in discussion around climate change.

Amongst the visiting Warriors was Fenton Lutunatabua (350.org Pacific Campaigner) who gave us a little insight into ‘who they are’ and ‘what they do’. “The Pacific Climate Warriors are a network of climate activists that are active in 15 of the Pacific Island Nations.…more


Guest Writer

THE OCEAN CONFERENCE & US

The boat was a necessary part of our lives in Savaii. We spent many days back and forth on those damned boats, smelling of diesel fumes and rocking to every inch of wind that caressed the waves. I hated the boat, but what I did love, was staring in the deep blue ocean, appreciating the horizon as I waited for the shape of my island to get bigger and bigger as the boat approached.

I never viewed the ocean as a separate entity – it always seemed, essentially a part of who we were, are and always will be. An island after all, is an island because of the ocean that surrounds it and laps on its fringes. The memories and thoughts of my children catching crabs by the sea, slapping the waves as they hit the shore and tasting the seaweed between their chubby little fingers, seem far removed from the discussions taking place at The Ocean Conference in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations.…more


Guest Writer

Ooga Booga

Ten years ago I was doing a warm down at a Les Mills class in Christchurch which required everyone to do a haka-type move to a track by Te Vaka.  Just before the haka move the white instructor assumed a pre-haka squat, looked out over the class, took a deep breath then yelled out “Ooga booga” at the top of her lungs before proceeding to slap her thighs, haka-style.

I looked around the class to see who else was appalled by the instructor’s unbridled employment of such a deeply inappropriate and highly racist term: but no one else so much as batted an eyelid.  And then I remembered.

I was in Christchurch.

I’d never heard the phrase oooga booga uttered un-ironically until that point. But a couple of years later I walked into a Tiki bar in Los Angeles just in time to hear a group of punters chanting “ooga booga, oooga booga’ before they skulled their cocktails.…more


Guest Writer

IE SINA

"I remember the feeling of fear and heat, all at once, as the mat was tied firmly to my waist. It was thick, heavy and white all around me, but there were also red shades.

My job was simple; perform with finesse and do not faint. That was indeed my first time wearing an ie sina to dance".  

- Va'asiliifiti Tuisafua Moelagi Jackson

The above scene is something I have pictured so many times in my mind, because there are not many images of my mother as a teenager. Her stories, proudly corroborated by my late grandmother Faleasiu and some who were there were we had to go by.

My fascination with their stories of dance and the accompanying teuga; headpieces, elaborated twisted and woven necklaces, mats and pandanus creations that layer the dancer’s body intrigued me.  But it led me down many disappointing paths when I discovered that the material culture of their time are largely confined to black and white images, Museum collections and faint memories.…more


Guest Writer

Cook Islands Mama's lose their Taonga and their trust...

The Kuki Airani Mama’s who were left high and dry in Europe, had to sell one of their treasured Tivaevae to buy food to feed the group on their 3 week ordeal.

People have come together to rally behind the Mama’s who travelled to Europe only to be left in the lurch by an organiser who they say had “promised them so much, and yet failed to deliver on almost every aspect.”

After a shock announcement midway through their journey to Europe that costs for their accommodation and food wouldn’t be covered as promised, the Mamas say they were forced to put together their small pool of funds to come up with a budget solution.

Part of this solution was one of the mama’s selling her personal tivaevae which was to be used for display during one of the organised workshops in order to help with food expenses for her friends, most of whom are in retirement and living off their meagre pensions.…more


Guest Writer

PROTECTING OUR BABIES

This is for any parent, aunty, uncle, big brother or sister.

It has come to my attention that young kids have been playing a game called “BLUE WHALE” which is an online game where children are told to complete one self harm challenge per day for 50 days ..... where to win the game you must commit suicide.

It’s easy to just read this and dismiss it thinking 'my kid knows better’ but please, please take precaution anyway.
Over 100 children in Russia fell victim to this game, and the game is now going global.
 
There are also videos on youtube which tell young children that to become a “fairy”  they must turn their oven on at night while everyone is sleeping and let the ‘magical gas” fill the house.  They are told not to tell any adults or the magic won’t work.
There are paedophiles who make fake pages online to groom younger children not to mention the horrible cyber bullying that happens everyday.…more

Guest Writer

World Press Freedom Day : Bloggers vs Journalists

Fifteen years ago, I entered journalism - a profession that I truly and utterly believed in, as a fundamental aspect of democracy. In my innocence, I developed a nose for news, I finessed my writing skills and developed and sustained the art of feigning interest in subject matters that can put a baby to sleep.

My passion for this trade is so great that even after the usual death threats, the burning of the Newsline Newspaper office while I was Editor, a black eye by a generous member of the public and various other unfortunate incidences resulting from my writings – as faced by many of my colleagues, I still write, and I still advocate for press freedom and I still think journalism is an awesome job, even though it is no longer my primary income source, because, frankly, my kids need to eat.

On this World Press Freedom Day however, I think we need to talk about facts, about fake news and the ignorant public that consumes it.…more


Guest Writer

"You're Too Good To Work In A Factory"

Fresh out of Film School with a Diploma in hand at the end of 2016 it was time to look for a job, and just like many people predicted – I didn’t get one.

So there I am, depressed to say the least working hard at my Part Time job at JayJays Manukau (shout out to my Jays gals, miss you) when my Aunty Tai walks in talking about the new job she has for me at her workplace. I smiled and listened (but wasn’t really listening) & it wasn't until I heard that beautiful payrate of 17.62 an hour did my spirits lift.  

3 weeks later - left my jobs at Jays and started my new job at Deane Apparel.  Now for those of you who don’t know, Deane Apparel is a Factory that also has a little shop and my job is to pick orders in the factory and also cover the shop ladies lunch breaks in the shop.…more