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


Guest Writer

CONVERSATIONS WITH TEEN MUMS - SALOTE

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


Guest Writer

CONVERSATIONS WITH TEEN MUMS - FLORENCE

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


Guest Writer

The land of Milk and very little Honey!

By Kristin McCarthy 

The land of Milk and Honey... And Debt.

As a Pacific person, or as any person I suppose, the first way I learnt to manage my money was from how my parents managed their money.  My parents migrated to NZ from Samoa in the mid 80’s and had rarely or never managed actual physical money before that so it's safe to say that they weren’t very good at it.  Any offer of immediate money aka cash loans they would take, not understanding the repercussions aka repayments and interest.

In the Islands wealth was displayed in offering food, mats and acts of service.  So being offered the idea of “free money” or a small plastic card that magically gave you money in NZ was what they thought people meant when they said come to “NZ, the land of milk and honey.”

I hear people say “Islanders are bad with money aye.”  We’re not bad at managing money, we just don’t really know how to and we have much wider family and community commitments than your average palagi.…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