Friday, December 30, 2011

Vaotuua Saua Iosefa

When I was a youth leader, and sabbath school teacher at a Samoan church we attended together, he was one of the few parents which totally trusted in my leadership. His confidence in me did a lot to confirm my ability and how far I could stretch my leadership to his children. Our relationship only got better after that.

In recent years he became a mentor to me. Other than my father, he was my go-to man to receive advice, and knowledge on my Samoan identity. He was conveniently two minutes away too, and it was always a pleasure to enter into these transactions with him.
The reason why I enjoyed learning from him, was because of his knowledge, experience but especially his candid and naked explanations of our cultural history. If you knew me personally, you would know I like to keep things real, and don't like to dilly dally with unnecessary jibber jabber, that is why I liked Vao's approach to teaching me.

He gave me the background knowledge and experiences of how things were in Samoa. The parts that aren't written in tourist brochures, and exposed to the world as the heart of the pacific. As much as I agreed with these statements, looking at how we are today with relationships I just knew there was something behind the smiling faces. I would tell him what I was learning through books from "Western" anthropologists, ethnologists etc. And He would verify some of the accounts, or tell me that this was just plain rubbish, or he wasn't sure and I should ask others too.

I remember one conversation in particular where he verified a mysterious statement in a book I read, which mentioned the offensive way of determining a girl's virginity. He verified it, and it led onto our discussion about  Samoan youth and sex. Although the topic of sex is taboo for the Samoan youth to discuss with their parents, they were obviously indulging in it. This is evident in the prevalence of secret relationships, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The conversation gradually got him asking me (translated from Samoan to English)

 "So what do you think we're doing wrong?"

My answer, "I think Father's should teach their son's about relationships and sex, teach them the pro's, cons, consequences and Mother's should explain similar to their daughters etc"

His response "That's ridiculous, how can I show my Son? These activities are not for a child's eyes"

This resulted in a long to and fro perspective-exchange about what I meant, and what he thought I meant, as I elaborated on biblical counsel, my personal experience and other books I had read.

The concluding remark will forever be the most amusing and memorable thing he said to me...."Ahhhhh that's what I should have done with Joe" His third eldest child, and second eldest son. We both laughed (Sorry Joe)

I felt awkward at the time as, we were discussing a taboo topic (especially from a senior to a less senior) and also, I was teaching him something. But that's the thing about Vao, he's willing to listen and learn too! A lot of older Samoan men would find it insulting that I would want to impart knowledge or experience to them. But not Vao, that's why he became my mentor and friend and I was willing to learn from him.

Beyond this, I learned from observation and stories through his Sons, that he was a devoted Husband to his wife Naula and a dedicated Father to his children. He was always supporting our Youth group events and projects, and he was respected by his wider family, and villages in Samoa as a Matai (Chief)

Most importantly he is the son of our Heavenly Father, and for now, Vao will sleep, and will be awoken on the day of our "blessed hope". His presence will be greatly missed, but the repercussions of his life testimony will live forever.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In a Nutshell: Give it go!

In a Nutshell: Give it go!: It’s surprising but Childcare is more than just babysitting one’s child. It is a deep and thorough process in which each child is carefully ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Niu Warrior.

Our ancestors were founders of ours lands & nurturers of our people. They were fierce warriors when battle was called, fighting for our land, our people, our cultures. Our ancestors composed the songs we sing today, the dances we perform with a smile, the morals we are taught to embrace, the cultures that define us and the customs we were raised in. We all have a paradise in the pacific, a blessing to be able to call these islands, “Home”. Today, we must unite and fight a battle. The battle against the quintessential issues that will affect the path of Tomorrow. The fight to keep our traditions alive in a modern world, the battle for our youth to seek greatness through positive mind and education, the fight for our lands as they are slowly taken by the sea that for many years, kept us alive.

So in each day, be proud of who you are. Stand tall as a Pacific Islander, shine the beauty of our islands and the strength of our people through the things that you do, and say. Continue to fight the battles today, as new warrior. Our battles are not bloodshed, like our ancestors. But our battles are as threatening to our people and its future, just as they were for our forefathers. So, be the most accomplished Pacific island person you can be. Educate yourself on the issues, and let passion, determination and love be your weapon to fight the wars brought upon our nations shores. Let’s be warriors, for our lands, for our people, our cultures and OUR CHILDREN!! Together, we can make it.

Remember, God never blesses you a victory, without a challenge. Choose to be Victorious! Youre destined for it. x

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pop weddings?

Some of the conversation at work revolved around the recent divorce of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. (I hadn't even realised she was married until the media covered this story).  Not only at work was this topic being discussed, but the panel on morning shows, news etc also discussed the divorce, mainly because the marriage lasted for a whopping 72 days. The main issues were whether it was just a publicity stunt, or whether something really serious had come up for Kim to call it quits.

What got me was, no-one ever brought up the fact that the institution of marriage is no longer as sacred as it should be. Stats of divorce, the constant outcry of same-sex marriages, the enormous incline of family counselling  and the trend of specialist for kids who come from families of divorce are only a few symptoms of this first-world country epidemic.

I really don't care whether it's a public stunt or not, but the fact is she's famous, and apparently a teen/youth icon in the world of fashion, and therefore has leverage as far as influence is concerned. The message she has diffused from this divorce is that Marriage is not important, and even more so accountability to her groom and the whole world that watched is null and void.

We live in a time where accountability is downplayed where "Honour" apparently should only be uttered from the lips of a sword-bearing Samurai. It is here, that we can see the problem of having nobody to answer to. No-body to be your keeper. Accountability starts in the home, first between husband and wife, then the parents teach it to their kids, who meet their life partners to continue the "Honour" of a covenant marriage.

The irony of our society today is that the unsung heroes are the parents who have held it together to bring up children of accountability, children who honour their word. These children who grow up to identify the magnitude of their effect upon another when their promises are sealed by their word. The parents of these children are not on reality tv-shows, have not made a tape of their sacred sex lives for exhibition, and do not act in the theatrics of public-display-of-affection.

Their lives are considered boring, mundane, and restricted by their marital vows, and their parental duties. No Hollywood director or reality TV show producer would ever make a successful production of this story because the secular world can not identify and believe it to be unrealistic....possibly self-righteous?

However, credit needs to be given to these individuals. Their example and their diligence to stick to principle should be placed on a pedestal. They are the covenant keepers of society who still sound the standards of principle when it matters most. Oh I wish television shows would speak more of these couples, I wish the message of marital status was played up, rather than drummed down by media. It does effect and influence.

Homer Simpson is worse than a joke, Al Bundy should fall in the same, and from what I've seen from the shorts of "American Dad", why should the world take the family man seriously? This is why I surround myself around godly men, my Dad, friends who I've grown up with and are men of their word (which is why we're still friends). Although the best thing I can do is to live by this principle myself. Be the man who is my wifes-keeper, who honours his word, his wife, and can go 72 days without needing to serve papers.



Also Read: Double portion of blessings in a Single weekend - Weddings and Baptisms

Friday, October 21, 2011

ELSDAY: Double portion of blessings in a Single weekend - ...

ELSDAY: Double portion of blessings in a Single weekend - ...: I've left this a tad late, but better late than never as the thoughts and the feelings haven't really faded from the weekend two weeks back....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rugby: Isn't it just a game?

Previously I wrote a blog in response to Greg Hurvitz article which came to my attention after my newsfeeds on Facebook was displaying hate comments, links, pictures etc towards said sports blogger. I ignored it at first (partly because I didn't have the time, and I thought it was one of those passing phases). But the day after checking my Facebook again, the negativity was still leaving skid marks on my newsfeeds and my brain. So I read the article, and I felt the same angst that my fellow Samoans were feeling, BUT, rather than reply straight away, and hone in on the instantly assumed strokes of racism prejudice, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, reflected on what I saw in the game, and compared it to what he was saying. Then I wrote to him.

To date, the odour of sourness is still meandering in the halls of social-networking, and I hate to say that we're possibly flirting with making our Samoa (known for its friendly people and a beautiful tourist destination) appear to be a people who are unable to tactfully handle injustices that the Manu Samoa were dealt, AND an opinion from an individual in South Africa. I see the frustration of some who replied to my blog (which was a copy of the original article by Greg Hurvitz), Facebook pages, YouTube comments, Tweets ranging from hating on Nigel Owens to IRB resulting in a volley of argumentative comments between Samoans (and their sympathisers) v Welsh/South African fans. And the majority of comments are unhealthy and are misrepresenting Samoans......yes Samoans! For some strange reason, I feel embarrassed when I read some of the comments that a hurled towards people from other countries. After all, it's rugby isn't it? Rugby is just a game right?

The facts are:

• The Manu Samoa had full-support and hopes from fans, believing they were strong contenders for at least Quarter finals (by their playing I reckon it could've been further)
• They were unfairly treated by the IRB
• Sapolu has been left hung out to dry by the SRU
• and (some of) the management are a reflection of dare I say typical administration when it comes to Samoans performing in "Palagi" policies and formalities.
• The World Cup 2011 campaign is over for Manu Samoa
• They played awesome rugby

BUT it begs to ask the question. Is it really about the game? NO I don't think so. Samoan person reading this right now, you would agree that we feel, that because of our so-called physicality, athletic, artistic and musical abilities...oh and good looks coupled with a public display of being funny, charming and hospitable, incredibly hospitable. That our ability to think and assess situations is where we are "getting hoodwinked" is overlooked right?

I have no idea how Rugby Union became a political playing field, but I have an inkling that the film "Invictus" may have given us a bit of insight to what it meant for South Africa in 1995. I remember being gutted that my hero Jonah Lomu couldn't pull off the world cup win. But after watching that film I thought, yeah the Springboks deserved that cup. (Crazy huh?)

My theory is, IRB hadn't expected the Manu Samoa to come to the world cup in immaculate form, and neither did the Samoan fans. In the lead up to the World Cup, the Wallabies Test was the only true measure to see how the well the players played together. And big ups to the Wallabies for constantly allowing the Manu Samoa to play against them year in, year out. The result blew the fish out of the water because they were an amazing outfit. The Manu Samoa then carried the hopes and dreams of nearly every Samoan accross the globe, to show the world that such a humble little nation is capable of big things. And the IRB became the tyrant that wanted to stunt their success by manouvering and manipulating. The first indicators of our expressed frustration and wayward support came as an attack to the ref and Lavea in the Welsh game, and then the gloves came off and literally the fans became a "manu feai" when the Manu Samoa lost to the Springboks.

Could it be that at closer analysis, this represents our walk in life? Where teachers, bosses, administrators etc don't expect you to achieve too much because the stereotypical Samoan is only successful in physicality, athletic, artistic and musical abilities? Undercutting the fact that you're able to strive for bigger things? And rather than the Manu Samoa having a happy ending like "Invictus" it became more like an "Enviction"? I certainly hope this is the case, otherwise our passion for the game is probably more intense then Gregs.

However they haven't gone silently in this eviction as Sapolu has spoken up and looks like he will continue to do so. Sapolu's tweets may have come accross to some Samoans as free reign to insult every IRB committee member, Nigel Owens, Welsh, South Africans etc which I'm certain wasn't Sapolu's intentions. Although I don't fully support the way Sapolu has gone about it, Sapolu knows what he's doing, so let him do what he does, he's got the smarts, has tact, and a passion for rugby, he was right in amongst it and he is human so his tweets may have been a knee-jerk reaction and/or a deliberate bait to the media to get his word out like he wanted.

How long will we hover over this corpse? Let the Manu Samoa Campaign 2011 Rest In Peace, and allow us to reflect on the montage of well-played games that showed an honourable team followed by a flawless obituary. Let Sapolu represent the case in question, and win the jury to a just decision. And allow yourself the pleasure of knowing that the Manu Samoa is not a manifestation on how your life will pan out. If you want to see a team of Samoans that should represent how to handle injustices, look no further then "The Mau" They would advise the frustrated fan to quit with the verbal threats and unnecessary banter, and if you're up for the challenge, try not to think about it. There are plenty of other ways to express your thoughts and feelings, like through your artistic and musical abilities?

The Mau were up against bigger players than the IRB, and their World Cup Finale win is forever etched in the history of Samoa. In the words of the late Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III whose last words were spoken after he was shot and killed at a peaceful demonstration - "Samoa filemu pea si ou toto nei tauvalea a ia aoga a lau ola mo lenei mea".

An eloquent interpretation: "My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price"

This was said for the sake of "Samoa mo Samoa" (Samoans will govern Samoans). Surely we can apply the same principle to the Manu Samoa at RWC 2011, I mean Rugby is just a game right?

So rather than express our frustrations, and misrepresent the character of the Samoan people, take a deep breath, figure out why you're taking this so personally, refrain from the profane, cop it on the chin, and contribute towards making Samoa the "attratction" that it truly is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Samoans, a disgrace to world rugby - by Greg Hurvitz

Note from blogger: this is a copy that has been removed from the following link

""So we know that the Pacific Island’s rugby reputation is one of immense physicality with some decent skill in open and broken rugby. The physical side of their game is attributed to their large build.

Western Samoa have always revelled in levelling the physical playing field with the Springboks. In 1995 Joost van der Westhuizen and Andre Joubert were victims of the most heinous rugby transgressions — not much punishment was meted out in a time where on-field discipline was mostly left to the referee. In 2003 Derick Hougaard got absolutely pile-driven into the turf by Brian Lima, who built his relationship on all he offered to the game, bone-crunching (mostly illegal) body contact with opposition. But nothing like 2011 has been seen before.

The excuse of culture just does not sit with me this time around. What Western Samoa did on in New Zealand was inexcusable and a disgrace to rugby. It was abundantly clear from the outset that they had no intention of making this game a rugby skills contest but in fact they had one objective, to physically abuse as many players in white and green jerseys as possible. I wish there was a column in these useless after-match statistics for off-the-ball play. No doubt Western Samoa would have rated 100%, their only dominance in the game. Not because the Boks were physically inferior but purely because the professional world champions came to the field to stick to their plan — to play rugby. Play the ball not the man.

Western Samoa tarnished the Rugby World Cup on that day and the International Rugby Board (IRB) will be classed spineless by me, a stakeholder in the game, if they do not act against this rugby union for bringing the game into shameful disrepute. There is no place for such rugby teams in world rugby. No place for such poor role models. As the governing body the IRB should take a very firm stand against the Samoans. No more excuses of culture and this is the way they play the game. If this is the way Samoa have resolved to play the game, they should play it in their own backyard. The world-class professional outfits should not be subjected to matches where players get ruled out of the contest because of unprofessional physicality.

On the other side of the coin, the former “brutes” of world rugby, the Springboks, have displayed an impeccable disciplinary record for a very long time. The conduct of the Boks on the paddock with this so called Test rugby nation was sensational, sticking to their plan and their focus at all costs. I was happy to see Paul Williams get a red card but am horrified and disgusted that he has reportedly escaped any further punishment. I can assure you that if the situation was reversed, Heinrich Brussow would have been suspended for a few games. The IRB lacks consistency in this department and best get its house in order very smartly. They seem rather more focused on a Western Samoan’s Twitter outburst calling the ref a few names but off-the-play is tolerated as it is “how they play the game”.

I must emphasise my message to Western Samoa, you should travel back to your country of birth with your heads bowed in shame for your childish and disgraceful behaviour. To the Springboks, your professional reaction is acknowledged and long may it continue under future Bok leadership. To the IRB, wake up and smell the coffee. The disciplinary process is inconsistent and weak, get it right. You’re ruining the game I love and the team I support is far too often the victim of this.""

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RE:"Samoans, a disgrace to world rugby" By Greg Hurvitz

(This link will take you to a copy of the original article)

Dear Greg,

Your blog suggests that you're a fanatic when it comes to sports, and a quick squiz of your articles reveal that you cover sport events pretty well. However, you have made an error in not only writing the referred article, but also publishing it online. I respect your attempt to retract the article from your blog, and unfortunately it has been dispersed in various island circles, namely Samoans. (If you familiarised more with Samoan culture beyond the rugby field, you would understand too, that we spread news more efficiently than the African drums)

The tone of your blog seemed to show the biased view towards "Western Samoans" or otherwise you have a strong passion for the sport, I will assume the latter and address this solely.
Firstly, I am not a fanatic as you maybe, but I enjoy a good game, and I enjoyed playing Rugby union many moons ago. The game between the Springboks and the Manu was a good game (please note that I refer to them by their team names, not by the entire nation)
The reference to "physicality" and bringing up Brian Lima and his tackles tempts me to refer to eye-gouging, BURGER and his record of foul-play etc etc. But I won't because I believe you are referring to this game in particular right?

It appears that the frustration and focus on the physicality of the Manu was your blindspot to seeing the tact and strategy that was used against the Springboks. This is evident in the score being a tight 13-5 (Rank 2-Rank 10). For example, when the Manu had the ball, they would pass the ball to the backline on the third or fourth phase, and Census Johnston (tight-head prop) was waiting to receive the ball, and broke the advantage line numerous times, knowing very well that Tuilagi was the marked man. This isn't just physicality, this is intelligently using their physicality. The use of the box kick, drawing in players, speed to the ruck,(and selectively choosing which rucks to counter) the running game, there is so much to list, and all this combined with their "physicality" is a great combination to envy.

In addition, you can not deny that the Manu were hard done-by with the calls from the ref. And furthermore, Springboks slowed the ball down with clever use of hands-in-the-ruck (I personally think it takes skill to get away with that, so props to the Boks for that) and using low tackles to inevitabley force the Manu team to fend lower and as a result falling with ball and having a prepared loose forward on his feet, and ready to turnover the ball. (That is clever play)

This resulted in Paul WILLIAMS hanging onto BRUSSOW, because WILLIAMS knows that BRUSSOW is a champ at pilfering and was frustrated by BRUSSOW slowing the ball. And lets not be sooks, South Africans are tough, and the strike was no more a tickle than a KO punch according to IRB stipulations. (Actually I was quite disappointed to see BRUSSOW pull off a FIFA-Hollywood display).

So let's not discount that the Manu have ability to implement and execute strategic play. They also entered the field to play rugby, just the same as the Springboks did, this fact is undeniable. And to say that the Springboks are physically inferior is a load of hogwash. The Springbok forwards are reputable for being tough-as-nails and stragegising great pick'n'go, maul plays, and they did not look inferior, in fact they matched the physicality. (Just like Wales, Fiji and Namibia did)

There is no need for the IRB to address the style of rugby that the Manu play. Lest I remind you that they beat the Wallabies (by strategy and a touch of physicality), AND they've qualified for the World Cup since day dot. Although I agree with you on the inconsistency, I agree on a completely different platform, especially the resting periods granted to the tier one teams (like the Springboks) in comparison to the tier two and minnow teams.
You are correct in that the Springboks have improved incredibly in discipline(save BURGER) and are an elite team, but to label Manu Samoa's performance as "childish and disgraceful" has to come down to your view of the Springboks through rose-coloured glasses. This statement is as exaggerated as the tweets from SAPOLU are.

IRB do not need to take any action towards Manu Samoas behaviour on the field, they are a professional outfit, with professional players. If any action needs to be taken, it's the treatment of all the teams that are not part of the higher-tier 1-society.

To finish off, I will assume that you are not familiar with Samoan culture. And to refer to the Manu Samoa as "Western Samoa" and "Samoans" implies that you are referring to every person that falls under this category. I was unable to read the 310 comments that I noticed on your article, but I am certain a huge percentage of these comments were from Samoans and consisted of angry remarks, and outburst reactions similar to a WILLIAMS palm which is possibly why the article was removed. But I would encourage you to reassess your views of Samoans because of your perception of the Manu Samoa v Springboks last weekend. Make an attempt to see the game analytically and not as a biased Springboks fan(atic). You appear to have a successful blog, and to circulate this blog in a city and country lacking Samoan representation, I appeal to you to reconsider your views. In fact, try a holiday to Samoa some time, you are more than likely to return as a Manu Samoa fan.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

FENCES - Part 1

Sheep are so smart that it doesn't take long for them to learn the discipline of the electric fence. The sheep who dares to cross the line will familiarise with the awkward buzz.
The shock the sheep feels, deals directly with their daring intention. To cross the line and taste the goodness of the greener grass on the other side of the fence. But pretty soon it becomes apparent that greener pastures isn't worth the buzz.
The reverberating pulse of electric currents arrests the equilibrium. The shock isn't sufficient to turn the sheep into mutton, but just the right amount to push the discomfort button. Repetition makes perfect, and in this case....perfect fear.
Pretty soon it becomes apparent that greener pastures isn't worth the fuss.
Growing up in New Zealand, I remember a sheep show on television. Farmers in sync with their sheep dogs exhibited their skills in controlling sheep. The Farmer harnessing horse, bellowing jargon, as the bark on the dog flogged sheep silly. Moving them from one area to another and showing the audience that they knew how the job was to be done.
Meanwhile, in the middle east, one shepherd for every one hundred sheep. No horses, no hollering, hooting, or barks from a dog. A single man walking ahead of the sheep, did you get that? He leads the sheep. His calls are directions which the sheep understand. The voice they are attuned to, are notes that turn discourse into harmony. They know their leader, and the leader knows them. When they are thirsty, they are directed to water, when they are hurt, He applies a meticulously mixed concoction of medicinal herbs, to heal the cut, graze or burn.
It soon becomes apparent that trusting the shepherd is a must!
And get this! There's no fence! There is NO FENCE!
The fence is trust, the fence is not a pulse of electric currents to throw you off course, but to bring you back on it. As long as you can see and hear Him, and He can see and hear you, pretty soon it becomes apparent that greener grass tastes good......real good.
Free to wander, free to ponder, free to wonder.
Repetition makes perfect, and perfect love casts out fear.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Grandmother's sunset

The morning's ritual is to raise the sun over the horizon. But for my grandmother, she drew her last breath, and never saw the sunset this day.

Fale daughter of Matai'a, the wife of my resting Grandfather Leo and the mother of my Dad, died a peaceful death this morning in the village of Vailele, Samoa.

I found out via a text message from my brother, I was sad to read the words, but not sad in a way where I personally knew her, because I didn't. Honestly, my first instinct was knowing that this was going to leave a dent on the bank account, and that in itself was disappointing. But I felt sad that I knew she was the mother of my father, and through the stories of my father, the character of this story had turned it's last leaf.

However, there were two encounters in my life where she was present in person, where I could touch and smell her, and hear her passive voice. The first time Fale and Leo flew to New Zealand and stayed with us. I distinctly recall that she made my chairbag at primary school. It was probably the most oddest looking chairbag in the room because of it's brown/yellowish Polynesian pattern and texture. I was five then, and the second was a tad over a decade later when Dad and Mum took my brother and I to Samoa when I was 16.

On both encounters I didn't really get to know her and hear her mind. Although in both I learned that she was industrious, enjoyed the old crafts, and that she was incredibly superstitious. After my brother, Josh and myself walked back to my grandparents house in Vailele (on a dark night), she warned that we shouldn't "walk the village at dark times because that's when the Spirits are about". Mind you it was 8'o'clock in the evening, and none of us responded, in respect of her convictions. However I remember hearing dad as we walked to our sleeping mats, trying to explain to her that we didn't see this Spirit world quite like she did, and elaborated. Other times it was awkward trying to talk with her as she seemed uncomfortable, and I respected that also given the boundaries between child and adult in the Samoan culture.

She was a quiet woman, of few words. She fussed about little things as Samoan women do, and she had a very subtle smile, just enough to communicate that she liked me. At Leo's funeral, she held herself together pretty well, and she took in instruction from my dad well too after Leo's passing (dad being the eldest son, and child).

But I never really knew her, not like some people I know, who know their grandparents well. I knew her through stories that Dad and Mum shared with me. I'm sad because the stories speak of a woman who took care of eleven children, and ensured they were fed, clothed and taken care of. Who braved the loss of four of her children to leave Samoa in order to help the family. I'm sad because if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here, and neither would my kids. I'm sad that I couldn't fill the gaps of the different parts of her life that I heard of, and that she couldn't read my blogs and Facebook status' to find out just a little of what I'm about. We really didn't know each other, not in person anyway, but in stories.

I cherish the stories of Fale Samani, stories last forever. I mentioned earlier that she turned her last leaf.....maybe the story doesn't end here. The story should be continued through those who heard it. Yes, I'll tell my kids the same stories I heard. So that they may know her too. The character will continue in this story until she rises again at the return of the Son.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I love the expression "there is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid answers". When I first heard this I understood, because I apologised before asking a question to the same person after a sequence of three other questions. The expression presupposes that giving the correct answer should reduce the need to ask more questions, so if you give a full-detailed-bigger-picture answer, you will allow the questioner to connect the dots, and think for themselves........and then hopefully they'll ask more questions.

Asking questions are such a simple yet incredibly effective tool. In the family it encourages relationships "how are you doing?" shows you're concerned, in school and the workplace it increases knowledge "how do I do that?" shows that you're willing to be taught. And on the general front, you're building your repetoire of understanding of people and your environment.

But I wanted to deal specifically with the off-the-cuff moments when you're at a train station, and you're not sure which train to catch, your using the new machines where you check-out and pay for your own groceries at the supermarket or when the telephone bill is incorrect. If you don't know you need to ask somebody right?

I'm often saddened by young people who feel that they shouldn't or feel that they are not in a position to ask questions. I espcially identify with polynesian kids as we were brought up in a "seen but not heard" environment. I remember as a teen, being in situations with friends where we needed direction or guidance. And the most obvious person to ask was the person in uniform. I came to realise that I was always the one to make the enquiry. (I was the kid in class that people liked, because I'd be the one to ask the question that everyone was dying to ask but just didn't put their hand up, I didn't and still don't mind being seen as dumb). Out of curiosity I decided I was going to refuse and see how they would respond. Sure enough, they would rather go without knowing, than asking. This baffled me, but I'm still finding it in the next generation also. And even more so, it's not just polynesians after all, alot of people do this. Is there a whole generation of young 'uns who are being seen and not heard?

Where my buddies would thrive at probing the defence line in a rugby match, they were incredibly relucant to make an enquiry whether by phone, in writing or in person. My mind wondered, and I just had to ask those who were closest to me.

Here are some of the more common anwers:

• I may appear dumb better to appear dumb, than being dumb because you didn't ask
• Everyone else has probably asked the same question So?
• I don't know what to ask Take your time, work it out
• They're busy Wait in queue
• It's too embarrassing why? Because their job is to help you?
• They may say No who cares? You still win because an answer is better than not knowing

And I'm sure there are plenty more, BUT the fact remains, you will never know any of the above mysteries unless you ask the question! If they're wearing the uniform or they certainly stand-out as a person who's in on the know-how. Ask the question!

It's amazing how some of my friends (even family *ahem*) have expressed the anxiety they feel prior to making the enquiry. And I understand, please refer to my "Kings Speech" blog. But that anxiety can be reduced, and even nullified if you just ask the question when you first realise you're not sure what to do.

Our minds are constantly working and learning, and there are things we want to know. Google can give you an answer quick smart, but I think we get more anxious when talking with people. Google can never tell us what's going on in the mind of another. Asking questions will get you an answer, and sometimes it may not (if they choose not to answer). Not having the answer and persisting without knowing, can cause unnecessary anxiety. Like one of the lines of my favourite songs says "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery", and counsel from my favourite book "...keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Luke 11:9 (NLT)



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Samoan Identity Crisis

It's well known among Samoans that they can be the best of actors when it comes to playing character on various stages in life. And this blog was inspired by a number of discussion topics in a forum I frequent online. Such questions were "Why do Samoans in general act all sweet and innocent in public, but behind close doors they can be your worst enemy?", ....why is it Samoans think they're tough once they wearing their uniform?" (This came from a samoan bloke who was inside an Australian prison and was badly mistreated by samoan guards for no apparent reason.)

I believe this type of character-playing has become a standard method of assimilation for not only the 1st generation immigrants but even to the 2nd but hopefully not the 3rd generation.

For centuries, Samoa has been governed by a comprehensive, well preserved and observed Matai (Chief) system. This traditional way is still followed by the majority of Samoans, however up until recent times the western world has had it's influence by introducing a westernised government. The Matai system of old did not require police, a court, a bank, psychologists etc as the Matai's of each village monitored and settled their own affairs among themselves. Nowadays, there is a police presence, there is a court etc etc. And still the Matai system lives on and it is important to note that only Matai's are able to occupy parliamentary roles in Samoa.

I mention the Matai system because in this structure, people learn that they occupy specific roles, and in these roles they have a formal obligation to the official forum and to the people of the village, giving each person a specific identity or role.

The roles in a broad brush stroke usually consist of the leader (ali'i) who is assisted by (the pulenu'u). The Ali'i is considered to be too important to discuss issues/problems of the village and therefore a speaking chief (tulafale) is appointed. This chief speaks on behalf of the Ali'i, and is well versed in the history of his family, and the chief titles. Not only his but they will learn to address chiefs of other villages by learning their history and thereby respecting other villages in official ceremonies, and social ceremonies such as weddings.

While this is all going on, there are young men (taulele'a) who stand outside the meeting place ready to act on any small errands that come from the chiefs. And in turn they learn how the meeting is run, hear the verbal transactions and in every way are trained by experience.

With the arrival of missionaries, Samoa absorbed the Christian teachings quickly and applied it to their way of living. The running of the Church structure was similar to the Matai system, and to this day people who hold a Priest, Pastor, Reverend etc title are revered by the Samoan people. With Christianity came the need to analyse the fa'asamoa (samoan way) and possibly do away with practices that were contrary to the teachings of the Bible e.g cannibalism, polygamy etc. So then, the tension of Religion vs Traditions pervaded Samoan society. And the clear roles and identity needed to be clarified. For example, do the Samoan people listen to their religious or village authorities?

Further down the pages of history come the invitation to go to places such as New Zealand with the propects of working and sending money to assist family in Samoa. Again this challenges the roles/identity of the samoan individual as they enter the way of the western world. A world that does not recognise the Matai system, and do not view the samoan individual in the light of the title that the family honoured them with. They were commonly a factory worker, but outside of this mundane monotony, they held positions in the church and in the eyes of their family and even their village members.

Along come their children, (I'm apart of this generation) and we're educated in the western world, all the while learning the fa'asamoa and the teachings of Christianity. And personally, I struggled with the tension of these three areas of my life. In retrospect I knew how to play the characters after years trial and error, consider the following examples:

1. At home I wasn't to look in the eyes of my parents when being instructed or scolded. But at school, the teacher thought it rude that I didn't look in their eyes and they would literally say "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

2. At home you didn't speak unless you were permitted or asked to speak. At school, they encouraged us to speak up. In general discussions, although I wanted to say something, I would wait for the teacher to ask me directly, which seldom occurred.

3. Back chat at home was unacceptable, and Dad and Mum ensured we felt it. At school it seemed the teachers were blase about it.

These are just a few examples, but the confusion led me to know how to act in my respective roles. At home, I played the Samoan kid as best as I could and was trained. And at church, I played good christian boy, and at school by the time I was in my early teens, I was doing everything contrary to my Fa'asamoa and Christian upbringing. By my mid-teens I was confusing the roles, and I had found an outlet but at the cost of disrespecting my parents. By the time I recognised my dilemma, I had decided that by the exceptionally mature age of 17 I would ditch both the Fa'asamoa, and Christian tensions. (Please refer to my "Keep the Faith" Blog to see how my plans didn't turn out the way I intended).

But in identifying this and sharing with other Samoans of my generation, we all agreed that we had all faced these tensions, some handled it better than others, and more friends than I care to admit joined street gangs because the other polynesian kids seemed to relate to their demise.

I know I took a long time to get to this point, but this is why I believe Samoans are good at putting on masks, and worse yet when authority grants them power, and they have a uniform, they have the ability to abuse or empower. Unfortunately those who are insecure about their role and identity choose to abuse.

But this is not just a Samoan dilemma, people of different backgrounds, cultures and upbringing all need to come to terms with these differences.

However, being inconsistent and playing characters isn't healthy. It becomes tiresome and living a lie becomes an individuals truth. The only way I have found to settle this tension is through my Christian upbringing. Jesus says in the bible "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This is the way walk you in it. You shall know the Truth, and the truth shall set you free. He that has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life" John 14:6, Isaiah 3:20, John 8:32, 1 John 5:12".

His example of being consistent in every facet of life has been an awesome testament for me. Not only this but even my parents. My parents are full-fledged proud Samoans BUT they never have in my entire life compromised their commitment to Christ. And now that I know Christ for myself, I see that He was consistent and in his roles as Leader, as Priest, as a life-giver, as creator.....and more, He always served and empowered others. So too, we in our different roles in our various areas of life, can serve and empower. This is what we were created for, this is our life mission.....and all the while I can do this being a New Zealand born Samoan residing in Australia.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting active, staying active

For the past few weeks I've been monitoring how active or inactive I am. This came about after realising that I don't exercise enough during the week and input (food) vs output (burning the food energy) was out of whack, and I'm overweight which is a health concern too. Unfortunately I don't seem to appreciate this as much as my family does, so I'm doing it, and I realise how short I've fallen in being active and how serious my current condition is.

It's been good, but you can check out my youtube videos for a more comprehensive look into my progress or lack thereof. It was basically a two week commitment to get things kicked off, and it has paid off somewhat.

But this blog is more to do with a friend I familiarised with over the last three months. He came from Samoa and I learned (amongst many other things) that he cared for a plantation in Samoa. He told me that he had worked for an employer, but they paid $2 an hour. Income vs Lifestyle is hugely imbalanced so he decided he'd take matters in his own hands to grow and sell farmed food at the markets. This my friends was fascinating!

I asked him what he did, and as he explained, I felt myself increasing in respect for this guy as he is similar in age to me. He explained how he plans like a designer which and where the trees will line up. He then prepares the soil (one of the difficult jobs he says), plants the seeds, maintains and cares for the plants and then harvests them. After he harvests he loads his Ute (truck) to take down to the markets for selling. I don't have ask about profit margins, I'm already awestruck. I have no idea how to do the things he does, and I know I should know how to do these things.

The age of convenience has conditioned me to shop at the supermarkets and rely on organisations to give me my income so I can go to the supermarkets. If I lived the life that my friend from Samoa lived, I wouldn't have to focus so much on having to stay active, as my everyday living would require it from me.

My wife still fascinates about living in the country and having a herbal farm. I'm going to need a lot of prayer to get me in that mind (and physical) frame. I may even ask my friend from Samoa to come over to show me how.

It really makes me think how great and convenient things can be, but in the same vain it can also deprive us from things that our body and mind need. Excercise, Sun, Nutrition.....I like it this following acronym.

N - utrition
E - xcercise
W - ater
S - un
T - emperance
A - ir
R - est
T - rust in God.

Thats what I need. I am certainly in no position to claim any accolades for my current health, but hows things in your neck of the woods?



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To plank or not to plank?

Planking is described as "in which a person has their photo taken while they lie motionless on their stomach in various locations"(Herald Sun 16/5/11)and I could add "on various things". It's even got rules on how to plank, and it's become a craze in this last couple of weeks. Some claim that it was the death of Acton BEALE in attempting a risky plank that spiked the trend, which maybe true, but the week prior planking made the news. It may have been David Williams who brought it to light when planking to celebrate a try scored in an NRL game. But it's definitely peaked and the fruit rather than the source of the craze is the subject of this blog.

I first came across planking about 4 years ago on, and the pictures there had no such attempts of trying to see how risky one could get. They were just people planking in well known areas, such as Ayers Rock, Paris, Sydney Opera House etc. And then a friend posted a picture of a news worker planking the news panel desk. (Izzy that's you!) However, other's have felt the urge to get more creative, and more risky to make their plank better than the others. So now I've seen photo's of people planking on train tracks, high structures, under a car even? etc etc. Sure there are ways to be creative without having to get dangerous, but last weekends tragic event was a reminder that we can all take things a little bit too far. And today I hear another person is in a coma after planking a moving car.

But regardless of how it came about it begs to question, how did a craze which is undeniably unaggressive and harmless lead to the death of a plank practitioner and recently serious injuries to other individuals? Well apparently it comes with trying to perform the pose in high risk situations.

Why? I think the obvious answer is to compete with other's who have attempted similarly dangerous planks. Specifically to out do, and go further on somebody elses plank. Now we're pretty bombarded with cooking shows, talent shows, amazing race etc etc. But this is where we all really need to check ourselves, will we allow our competitive nature to get to such a degree as to hurting even KILLING ourselves in a state where you're practically in a stationery position?! There aren't even any judges or prizes involved, planking at present is purely egotistical, and

So if you're going to plank, plank safe and try to stick to the rules below.

1. Don't plank on high structures
2. Plank with responsible friends (you know what I mean?)
3. Be creative without having to jeopordise your safety.

It's funny, it's undoubtedly Australian, and unfortunately although it's nothing like bungee jumping, it has it's risks. So if you're going to plank, plank safe. Personally, I like the creative planks, safe places, effort in thinking of the environment and obviously not looking at the thrill of targeting a dangerous spot/situation. But truly, if you're really enthusiastic about this, go professional and find some sponsors. I think this guy in the photo below is a winner.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Kings Speech

Dear Reader, before you go any further, please note that this blog is not a review on the actual film.

In fact I just want to harbor on the point that this movie makes about having a voice. I am in no way advocating the film (as it does have scenes of profane language although is character relative), but when I was first exposed to it, I must admit that I had an urge to see the film, and caved in to getting the dvd to watch today. The story was much better than I had expected.

If you haven't seen it, it is simply a story about King George VI, known as Albert Frederick Arthur George, prior to his ascension to the throne being trained up by Lionel Logue (your average Australian bloke) to overcome his stutter. The time setting is the 1930's and Arthur George is in his adult years. The wireless and the radio broadcasts were making their mark in society much the same as blogging, and social networking have pervaded todays society. I even love the term used in the movie to affirm King George VI "You are now a broadcaster". A broadcaster? Who uses these words? The unlikely pair strike up a unique friendship which allows the King to overcome his stutter by simply facing his fears with the help of a friend. The relationship moves on even further during King George VI reign and Lionel is awarded and formally recognised for his personal contribution to the King.

Lionel Logue

This film illustrates how important it is for us to train our voice, and speech. Our mind is capable of receiving a huge amount of data, but to transcribe it and communicate it is a different ball game altogether. The person who is able to deliver it in such a skillful and tactful manner, is the person who draws attention, and is able to influence thoughts to continue the cycle all over again. Such people have been a huge cog in the machine of history, such names are Hitler, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Margaret Thatcher, Emeline Pankhurst, John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill, just to name a few. Each of the names mentioned led an incredible movement and was able to change the thinking of peoples in their time. In fact as a 10yr old child, I was moved and compelled to speak like Martin Luther King Jr when I first heard his "I have a dream" speech.

We shouldn't take our voice for granted, you must speak with that voice, because people want to hear what you have to say. Even if they don't, when you speak, and if you speak with skill, tact, and an intent to influence the mind of the receiver(s), your voice will attract and demand and audience on cue. It's a shame that this type of training no longer happens in our schools. English classes have an attempt to teach us the mechanics, but to teach with purpose doesn't seem to happen. Unless of course, you were trained from a young age. I'm thankful that I have been:

  1. brought up in a Christian household where it's crucial that I am able to communicate the gospel in a clear, simple yet impressionable manner
  2. I'm Samoan, and being able to speak skillfully is a must. So I have a double portion of blessings from parents who were both Christian and Samoan.
  3. Furthermore, my high school teacher Mr Murchision, had a real interest and passion about speech. He asked me who I thought was a good speaker, I said Martin Luther King Jr. He then referred me to books, and videos, and my mind drew in on the vision that Martin Luther King Jr had. From that point on, I knew that to speak was to add and influence. Public speaking, performing, rapping was never the same for me after that point.
In saying that I believe it is important that you are able to find somebody to train you in speaking. Especially someone that knows and is experienced in delivering a purpose fulfilled message.

The Kings Speech confirmed whole heartedly that the core of speech impediments are based on fear. or for want of a more better term, lack of confidence. My evidence is based on numerous people that I have known, (my wife, dad and brother) where the mere thought of public speaking shook the words right out of their mouth, to developing the ability to speak with confidence to any given audience. The common thread these people all have is that they came to know the person of Jesus. And in my personal walk, after that you can't help but speak with purpose, the purpose is what conceives confidence, and with confidence you speak words from One whose words are laced with wisdom beyond comprehension. I love hearing great speakers, and I love speaking, and when speaking on Christs behalf, in every moment, you and me are delivering the Kings speech.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Leo (Joshua's son), Uriah, Me and Josh (in the background)

Yeah I thought the title was kinda corny too, but a bit of corn never hurt anybody.

My blog about the Kelston "K" sparked a facebook correspondence with my good friend Sosh. Reflecting on our relationship we had and how blessed we were to have a circle of friends to share our adolesence experience together. He said something that really stood out and it was this "I hope my son will be able to have a friendship with someone the way we did". This one sentence stood out like a sore thumb, because, I'd never really considered that for my own son.

Friendships are important and more importantly it's great to have friends that you can trust and be open with. Hopefully you can respond and tell me whether my experiences are rare or not, but I have had the awesome experience of having a close-as-a-brother friend since I was 4yrs old and he was 2yrs old. (That's when his Mum said we first played). Our backyards backed on to each others so we were often at each others houses. Even with a fence up, a custom designed door was inserted to allow the easy access between the two yards.

We share a lot of memories together in the backyards, playing with swords against invisible armies, trips in the universe in the spaceships his Dad made out of truck tyres, dress-ups, baking and fighting too. Alot of extended family, and people at church all new Joshua, and likewise vice versa. As we grew up into our teen years, we both enjoyed music (as teens do), we talked about girls and how they made us think and feel, about spirituality, girls again, and music. It became obvious that through our teen years, our stereotypical groups were very different, But it never tainted our relationship. I suppose the only differences is that we both really didn't enjoy the same things when it came to going out. But when it came to sitting down over a meal, or in the back verandah, or relaxing at the park with the Manuka park locals, the friendship was still intact. It's funny how when I look back now, his family were my insight to the western/caucasian culture living, because my parents were somewhat traditional Samoans (Pacific Islands). It was spending time with my neigbours where I learned table etiquette like only using tomato sauce as a taste enhancer not a necessity. But it was after the dinners, during our play time, hang time, and sleep time that we clicked.

In retrospect, our conversations wouldn't appear to be that of your typical 10-15 year olds. We would sit around a table, and discuss our feelings and thoughts on death, relationships, how to read peoples body language and adjust our social behaviours etc. We were so open that when we were offended by somebody, it was said right there and then and the issue was done and dusted. It wasn't a mystery that most friends outside of our bond didn't quite understand how we fit together but it just did. Even in my last visit to NZ, people looked at us strange. But what they couldn't see was what I just tried to explain above, and that's in a very tiny nutshell.

Now that I'm older and I have identified that we have been created to be social beings, I can see why it is so important that we have friends. We need people to open up to and share our feelings and thoughts, and listen (or read) on what their response or assessment is to our thoughts and feelings. Be it in person, on blog, and other social media. Do not allow yourself to be isolated to an unnecessary form of hermit habitation. You, me, and them, need other people in our lives! We allow each other to get a different perspectives of ourselves and grow accordingly. Friends are great to get things of your chest, and even share the joys you experience. If you follow the trends of the profession of psychiatrists and psychologists, you will notice that the demand for their services have increased dramatically over the past four decades. I have no doubt that mental health is an epidemic that needs to be addressed, but think about it, if there were friends there that could assist, there would be no need to see a professional. I got alot more to say on this, but I'll leave it for another blog.

Growing up, it appears that my social network held me together. Although Joshua and I do not see each other as much as we used to, it is difficult to try and destroy a relationship built on such a solid and firm foundation. Joshua is my brother, a friend who's been there with me through thick and thin, and a lot of good good times. It's true that we can't choose our family, but we choose our friends, but you have ever experienced what it's like when you didn't choose your friends to become family?

Well it's payed off, even in my adult years, I find myself surrounded by close, male friends, that I am able to trust and depend on when sharing my thoughts and feelings.

I really hope my kids will grow up to have best friends like I did.



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adult Tantrums and a Biblical solution.

It appears that I have experienced first hand what an adult tantrum is. A work colleague came into my area, and when changes he wanted to make weren't unanimously agreed upon, he threw an adult tanty (tantrum), when he wanted to make changes to processes, but weren't seen as productive he danced his adult tanty, and it soon came to knowledge that this particular person had a history of moving and maneuvering by.........yeap you guessed it.....performing his adult tanty.Now what does the adult tanty look like. Basically,he'd do the silent treatment, make sarcastic remarks, and randomly drop a sad sob story much like desperate contestants  auditioning on the reality talent show Idol.

Yeah, that about encapsulates it. From what I observed this person had come to the area with an agenda, not a hidden agenda, and agenda that he was happy to share with everyone else. Not only that, he saw fit that things needed to be changed in the work area. And furthermore, he believed he should have more responsibilities as his skills were up to speed. After three months in realising that his agenda items were not being crossed off his list, he began to cross channels and going beyond the lines of command that were already set in place. And then, from what we were told by the powers to be, the waterworks, and the sob stories were flying left right and centre. This here, would have to be the adult tantrum.

Well rather than deal with the situation between boss and employee, the powers-that-be, moved him yet again to another area. Now you're probably wondering, why does it work so easy for him? The theory is, it is because he falls in a delicate group, you know the group that we refer to as the "minority", and are recruited to make the workplace look like an "Equal Opportunity" organisation? Yeah he fit right into that category. But even so, even if it was walking on eggshells isn't it worth doing for the sake of affected employees, and more importantly for the character building of the individual in question?

Because it is neglected, this action (or lack thereof) sends out a skewed message on how to deal with sticky situations? Between one human and another, whether politically correct or otherwise, surely there a lines that can still be adhered to without having to fear assumed implications. The message this sends out is if you want to get places.....chuck a fit. Incredibly unfortunate for the workers who complete the necessary courses, fill out the correct application forms, and did the hard yards in tertiary studies. It seems they could've just done drama classes and reenact scenes from "one flew over the cuckoos nest"

Seriously though, there a tactful ways of approaching discipline and correction. And for mine I believe the best advice can be found in the Bible, one such advice is the following: Matthew 28:15-18 “If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

That seems pretty straight forward, and not only that it is fair. There are other counsels too, but the one above stands out the most for me.

With the youth group I'm involved with, one such situation arose. Dealt with quickly, this particular youth member handled the correction very maturely, in fact much better than most adults that have been put on the same situation. Commonly but not always (thankfully) when the adult is approached, the approacher(s) are quickly labelled "self-righteous" and the individual sees themselves out, (adult tantrum) not considering that the whole purpose was to win them back.

I too was in a sticky situation where I urgently needed to move work areas. And apparently I fall into the delicate category also (I am delicate though) seeing as I am of Pacific Island origin. More than one work colleague (even one in a position of authority) said to play my "Ace of Spades" (I couldn't stop cracking up when hearing this term). The suggestions were humbly declined, and I said I'd leave it in God's hands. Slowly but eventually things worked out. No need for a tanty and no need to be disciplined. But if you're an adult, need broad shoulders and thick hides, life's too short to be offended.

Post a comment if you've had a similar experience. Hopefully you had a positive outcome.



p.s: Ace of Spades is a term to play the "race" card. In other words, use my Pacific Island background as a minority to acquire fair treatment..

Monday, March 28, 2011


The following blog will look at the popular "K" hand sign, with a very innocent beginning. I find it interesting how often we (Kelstonians) used this sign in such a proud, gangster-like demeanour, in a small corner of the western suburbs in Auckland. However, I've seen this same hand sign conducted by young teens in Brisbane, and then even more so on Facebook pictures outside of NZ and Aus! This is fascinating. My fascination lies in the innocence of how this started, and how dispersed it has become. I still do hold a sense of comradeship as a Kelstonian, but more so to my friends that I made at the time, then the system. I chuckle as I wonder whether all these people are Kelston or non-Kelston and are aware of the humble and innocent beginnings of this sign. The picture above has the gentleman in the middle displaying the "K" sign and in fact is the pioneer of it. We grew up together in New Lynn, Auckland, and it all happened in his kitchen while sipping on tea and eating fried potato pieces at his dining table.

There was a time when Auckland suburbia was saturated with the hip-hop culture, MC Hammer, Young MC, NWA and many others who all brought a flavour of music that caught on to the Auckland suburban scene, in my case West Auckland. With the rise of hip-hop, a genre of rap, appropriately labelled, gangster rap was borne because of the content found in the music, thus following a prevalence of teenage - young adult obsession with the LA gang phenomena. There were pseudo LA Bloods and Crip gangs that arose in Auckland, and the mention of the gangs all carried a respected fear. It was cool to say you knew someone from the gang or even more so, if you were in the gang. Actually these gangs may still be in existence, I'm too old to know now. But most of them had a hand sign to show which gang they belonged to.

Well, back to the dining table at Sosh's house. It was a common occurrence for us to walk home from school, throw the school bags down, and shoot the breeze for an hour before continuing on with our afternoon activities. This particular afternoon, Sosh was keen as mustard, to chat about what he had on his mind, as the whole way home he had been briefing me on his conversation with his older cousin who had recently returned from LA. As we sat down he started to talk about all the LA gangs, and then proceeded to show me all the gang hand signs that his cousin had learned in LA. One of them was the one shown in the picture above. A gang I believe to be called the "playboys" and you can see that the hand sign attempts to mimic the popular Playboy bunny trademark. As he was showing me, his hand happened to be right next our Kelston Boys High School baseball cap which displayed a prominent "K" exactly as shown in the picture below (the cap had a blue/red/white colour inversion though). So as you can see, after a little adjustment to the playboy sign, he soon discovered the "K" and he threw it up like a student discovering a simple solution to a complex equation.

I didn't think much of it as we sat there, but the impression it put upon Sosh revealed itself the day after, as we drove to and from school. Sosh was driving and calling out "KELSTOOON!" as we drove past Kelston students, and show the hand-sign as we drove past. Most of the Kelston Boys would cheer back, but I could see their curiosity as to "what the heck is he doing with his hand?" Sosh's brother William (may he RIP) at that time formed a mockery gang called SOK to oppose another gang who called themselves KOS.

SOK was formed after Willy and a few of his friends retaliated to the KOS beating up their cousin who had come down from North Auckland to visit them one holiday. The members of KOS beat her, took her shoes and purse. That was a big mistake, because that same day, when she pulled up on the porch, conveniently Willy, and three of his close friends were there, and Willy being Willy, was not willing to listen to Sosh's or my counsel. After their reaction, they conjured the name SOK - Straight Out of Kelston. They took the hand sign to a whole new level, and before we knew it, it was all around at the next poly festival and became an iconic hand gesture in the western suburbs. And there you have it my friends, the origin of the "K" symbol.

It's interesting how many things we learn and conduct without considering the origins. I suppose some of us have concluded it doesn't matter. But I believe it does. We should make an effort to work out why we do things the way we do, what does it mean, does it have any real significance? Well you make your own conclusions regarding the "K" hand sign, but search deeper, you have behaviors and beliefs that you have carried only because everybody else was doing it, and your dad did it, and his dad did and so on. I secretly found it awkward to display the hand sign, just knowing how it started with fried potatoes and two cups of tea.........

If you're a kelstonian reading this blog. Let us know where you're writing from to show the dispersion of our kind. And if you're game, send a photo of you or with fellow kelston bothers (with your K sign) to I'll post it on this blog.

Willy (note the Kelston necklace), Dave, Sosh, Nato, Josh

Shalom (Peace, to all my Kelston brothers)


p.s: were we all brainwashed in wanting to be all blacks? If you know what they did please enlighten me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The birth of Eden

It's been awhile since I blogged on coconut juice, and I'm not sure how to bring things up to speed. First off and foremost, our baby is here, so I see it fit that I relay the story of her birth right here before I forget.
It was a Tuesday, February 22nd, and Sokha had told me early that morning that she was feeling pains, "are they contractions?", I asked
"I'm not sure", was the response. I suppose it had been awhile since the birth of Uriah. I called in to work to advise of the situation.

Tuesdays are one of two days that Uriah goes to Kidz 1st run by Brenda, and Sokha and I decided he should go. We had to make two stops as Sokha felt sharp pains on our way to Kidz 1st. We stopped into McD's because we'd all missed breakfast, and although it wasn't nutritional she was feeling really hungry. The food couldn't go down and she had to endure a period of time without food. Uriah was dropped off around 9.00am and we returned home. As soon as we pulled up, my supervisor from work called to ask how things were going, I mentioned the infrequent contractions and that the shortest interval was 6 minutes. Her advice was to leave immediately to the hospital, however Sokha had no intention of having to wait around, pacing about the the white and blue painted halls, trying to encourage baby to make her grand entrance......or dramatic exit. I explained that to my supervisor, and she said "well we will probably hear of a birth in your car ha ha ha" little did she know what was about to take place. I called the mid-wife and advised of the frequency (or infrequency) of the contractions. And she concluded that it wasn't time to go in.

We continued recording the times, and the pains were getting worse. She started muttering how she couldn't do it anymore. The previous Sabbath I was reminded in SS class about praying for strength and patience to endure pain rather than asking for things to quickly be over and done with. I remember saying to her to pray for strength, she attempted but couldn't concentrate in her pain so she asked that I do it. So I did, feeling rather embarrassed to do so, as I wasn't the one in pain. In less then a minute God answered her prayer.

Her whispers soon turned to "I can do this" and her breathing was so even, that I was unable to determine whether the pains were that serious for want of hospital attendance. The numbers didn't lie three times in a row, 3 minute contractions with a 5-6 minute interval.

As I called the mid-wife, my conversation was distorted by bad reception. So I had to move from the lounge sofa to the front door. The mid-wife confirmed that we needed to go to the hospital, but as the words came from her lips, simultaneously Sokha cried out "I need to push!"
"Call the ambulance now" said the voice on the phone.
I immediately hung up the phone and called 000, I could feel and unfamiliar feeling of anxiety as the ring tone seemed to take forever. Finally an answer. I explained the situation, and then she asked for details, as I tried to answer, my spiel was interrupted by a louder voice in the background"Arrggggh! David I need to push, quickly!"
I put the phone down and immediately attended to Sokha. "Baby's coming David" and with one last cry, it seemed baby appeared in less than 30 seconds, and was resting in my arms.

I felt myself enter into some analytical mind frame and scan whether the cord was wrapped around her, liquid in her mouth, and then in an instant I was overwhelmed with the fact that my baby was sitting in my arms. I checked if Sokha was okay, and she indicated the positive. I could hear a voice blaring from somewhere, and then remembered the operator on the phone. "Are you okay", said the operator
"You need to breathe"
"Oh....", I then controlled my breathing
"Is mother okay?"
"And baby?"
I took another glance over baby, and everything looked intact, as far as I understood, "Yes"
"Have you covered her?"
"No,I'll get something", as I handed baby to Sokha and looked for a blanket to wrap around my baby girl.
"Okay now wait there, the paramedics will be there in any minute, you did a great job"
The encouragement was appreciated. All of us in the lounge sat in awe, as I looked at Sokha as she said "Wow, a home birth aye?" I don't remember my response, if there was one at all.
It wasn't long before the ambulance arrived and did a top job in performing the follow-up requirements. I had the privilege of cutting the cord, and I distinctively remember Sokha saying as she left on the hospital bed, "Sorry about the mess"
I can't believe after all that, Sokha was able to process that thought. She is such a tough cookie.

I'm so thankful that although we weren't in a hospital, I have no doubt that God's birthing team was on hand and allowed our little girl to come into this world "safe and secure from all alarm"