Recognising creative talent in the Pacific Island diaspora

American Samoa’s NFL Export March 7, 2010

Filed under: Film and Video,Pacific Culture and Events — pacificdocs @ 7:32 pm

Tongan Traditions practiced for Dr Helu February 25, 2010

Filed under: Culture and tradition — pacificdocs @ 9:05 am
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As I opened the link to a youtube Video with footage taken from the funeral of Tongan academic and the founder of the Atenisi Institute, Dr Futa Helu, I expected the usual sombre sounds of voices singing the tune of mourning for a loved one recently passed. What I found was something quite different.  I could sense that it wasn’t just any song being sung at this funeral, but something entrenched in Tongan tradition that is not often seen these days.  As the song progressed a man who sits in a wheelchair lifts his arms and uses them to move with the music, telling a story through movement and in response to heightening of the song.  He reminds me of a bird, it is like he is travelling.  A woman (Helu’s daughter) stands and does tradition Tongan tau’olunga and the rest of the group breaks into spontaneous clapping that, even through my computer screen, fills the room around me with energy and makes me feel proud.  It is a celebration of life.

I’ve been touched by learning a little more about old traditions.

Check out the video’s below and also some words from Richard Wolfgramm about the ‘Hala Kuo Papa’ – the poem composed by Queen Salote.

Another beautiful tribute to Professor Futa Helu. This clip features HRH Princess Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita performing the Fakamalele. She presided as the fahu. At her side are Futa’s daughters Lu’isa & ‘Atolomake and behind HRH is Sisiuno & youngest daughter Veisinia, who performs a tau’olunga

“”Hala Kuo Papa” is a poem composed by Queen Salote. It translates to “Path Well Trodden”, and like all Tongan poetry … the song is full of allegorical references. The cliff notes version – Tonga at one time, had 3 royal dynasties – Queen Salote came from one line, her husband came from another. The marriage of their son King Tupou IV to Halaevalu Mata’aho, from the 3rd line, united all 3 lines in the blood of their children.

In the last part where they start clapping, the climax of this piece, it is an affirmation of the paths that were trodden, a tribute to the previous dynasties and their accomplishments, and what it means for the future of Tonga.

In a way, I believe there are also political undertones, as Queen Salote, in her young years, faced much opposition from the machinations of rival clans. It’s the stuff TV dramas are made of… but she prevailed, and in my opinion, this is her poetic way of saying “up yours” and that Tonga is secure under her rule. I’m no expert at this, so just want to put out that disclaimer :)… See more… See more

This poem became a signature piece for Futa Helu’s Afokoula Singers, and later by his students at ‘Atenisi. The unique thing abou this song is that it’s sung in 3 parts…you can hear two distinct parts for the men, and 1 part for the women. This was the old way of singing before the influence of 4 part harmony was introduced by the foreign churches. What’s cool about this clip is that it starts out technically perfect…you hear each part clearly – almost too technical, and too Western in it’s execution, which is to be expected from the ‘Atenisi…and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but notice the change in mood and color as the song builds to it’s the climax…the elation peaks and at that point, the wheels come off as far as precision and technique, and not by much – but a strange thing happens…the song takes on a whole new manifestation….and Futa’s daughter Lu’isa and Siosiua Lafitani in the wheelchair feel it and the respond to it….it’s just beautiful.

normally, you would never see this at a Tongan funeral, so it’s even more touching that Futa’s students, ex-students and children chose to honor him in this fashion. ‘Atenisi’s Foundation for the Performing Arts (AFPA) is his legacy, and this tribute was very appropriate for a man of his stature”.

Richard Wolfgramm


The 18th Pasifika Festival February 1, 2010

Filed under: Pacific Culture and Events — pacificdocs @ 2:21 pm

Pasifika is the most significant one-day cultural festival in the South Pacific, and the world’s largest Pacific festival of its kind.

DATE: 13 March 2010
PLACE: Western Springs Park, NZ

For more information or to get involved, click here.


The Dreaming Festival January 25, 2010

Filed under: Pacific Culture and Events — pacificdocs @ 9:13 pm

The oldest cultures on earth

At The Dreaming there are indigenous cultures or First Nations people from across the globe, from Mexico, Africa and the Pacifica.

The Dreaming is a vibrant, exciting and a valuable destination where local, national and international audiences look forward to their annual ceremony time along with the most comprehensive showcase of Indigenous arts from across the country and around the world.

Check out the video on the Pacific Pulse website for a taste of what can be seen and experienced at the festival.

The Festival is held at Woodford in QLD from 11th – 14th June for 2010.


‘Just a Statistic’

Filed under: Uncategorized — pacificdocs @ 8:50 pm

‘Just a Statistic’

by Malaeauga Tiliaia

NOTE: Malaeauga Tiliaia is the winner of the Journalists for Diversity essay competition in Utah. Malaeuga will be a senior at West Jordan High School this coming fall.

Most people would probably consider me just another statistic. They may see me as nothing more than a 16-year-old homeless orphan being passed from one member of her family to another until they, too, grew tired of caring for her. I might have believed that I was nothing more than that myself, at least until the circumstances of my life changed dramatically in the past two months. My nightmares of yesterday are starting to slowly and quietly fade into the past. Those yesterdays when I was alone and afraid, trapped by poverty and abuse. It seemed as if angry voices would swirl around me like a cold, thick fog until I just wanted to fade away into a sea of hopelessness. I had nowhere to run, nowhere to escape and nowhere to call a home of my own. I had an empty heart, empty stomach, and, too often, an empty soul.

In school I would usually fall under the radar until I got into some type of trouble. No one seemed to notice how tired I was in class – tired from sleeping on benches in Burger King because I was afraid to go home at night. Failure was all that was expected of me. I had also been in minor scrapes with the law, enough to acquaint me with community service and a full paycheck going to fines.

I was born in American Samoa to a mother who was no older than I am myself. My father is listed as “not recognized” on the faded copy of my birth certificate. I was raised by my grandmother until she passed away a few years ago at the age of 47 from cancer. My mother, who also had health problems that no one would ever explain because I was so young, died of a seizure during the night no more than a year before my grandmother. I remember my grandmother working at night cleaning buildings to try to support us but drinking, playing cards and bingo took up much of the money she earned. After she died, I was sure I would never be happy again and I set out to prove it. More by default than desire, my cousin and his wife took me into their home in Orem.

Looking back, I now realize how angry I was because my mom and grandma had died. I began to miss more and more school and find ways to sneak out of their house whenever possible. It was then that things started going from bad to worse. After an encounter with the police and a brief stay in foster care, I was sent to live with another relative in the Salt Lake area. She kept me out of school to help baby-sit for almost a full quarter and I got a ticket for trying to go to school when I was not enrolled. I figure that will be a story to share with my kids someday – how their mother got sent to the Detention Center for trying to go to school. I always wondered why no one seemed to care when I would show up at school with marks on my face from being beaten. Hair pulling and slapping were part of a daily routine. Finally I ran away and when I came back I was told I was no longer welcome.

For a time, I lived off and on with any family member or their friends who would take me in for a short time. I remember one time being left in a home and having nothing to eat but a sandwich once a day. I would cry every night out of hunger and fear and dream of a home to someday call my own. There are still more blanks to fill in that bring me to today. No heat, no furniture, working to have my check taken away from me each payday by another relative, no food, no car, then homelessness and despair. It seemed that my life was in ruins. That is until I ended up on a porch of some strangers.

It seemed that a ray of hope began rising within me like the morning sun behind clouds. They offered me a life I had only hoped for where I could someday finish school, go to college and lead a normal life. Every room I entered was full of love, laughter and caring. Before this time I had never truly felt protection, shelter, safety or peace. For the first time in years I could sleep. At last I had a heart full of happiness, a stomach full of food, and a soul full of gratitude. Now I’m much more than just another statistic of failure. I am an individual of worth who overcame the odds and found a better life. I have a home, a family, and a future . . . at last.

Content sourced from Pacific EYE.

Journalists for Diversity essay contest

She wrote about losing her mother and later her grandmother, sleeping on benches at Burger King; and being sent to a deten-
tion center for trying to go to school.
For her work, Malaeauga Tiiiaia, a West Jordan High School student/received first place in Utah Journalists for Diversity’s “Tell
Us Your Story Essay Contest.”
Malaeauga, who will be a senior in the fall, won a $1,000 grant to help her pay for college-related expenses. She was one of nearly
100 students statewide who entered the contest.


Aftermath – The Story of the Pacific Tsunami

Filed under: Uncategorized — pacificdocs @ 2:22 pm

On September 29, 2009, the largest earthquake in 2009 at a magnitude of 9.1 hits the Samoan Islands. 22 minutes later the first of 6 tsunamis hits Western Samoa. The 20 ft’ tsunami ploughs through the southern shores, destroying anything in its path. In some areas the wave traveled as far as 2 km inland.
194 people lost their lives and 3000 are now displaced.

This Multimedia / Photo essay was shot & edited by The Light Search – Documentary Photography.

Aftermath – The Story of the Pacific Tsunami from Thelightsearch on Vimeo.


Youth voices of the Pacific in Copenhagen December 19, 2009

Filed under: climate change in the Pacific,Film and Video — pacificdocs @ 7:10 am

What an inglorious day for Australia – thanks to our shameful bullying of our Pacific Island neighbours, Australia has been awarded the (un)prestigious ‘Fossil of the Day’ Award at the Copenhagen conference.

At a time when Australia should be leading, we’ve been recognised as the worst country in the world for actively seeking a bad outcome. What’s more, we’ve been singled out for trying to bully vulnerable nations into agreeing to targets that would see them literally wiped off the map.

It’s time we stood up to bullies like this. Kevin Rudd has been phoning Pacific leaders to get them to sign away their very survival. Let’s stand up for our friends and call Kevin Rudd with a message that we support the Pacific nations’ call for a treaty that keeps them on the map:

It’s pretty simple: Pacific nations are calling for a treaty that limits global warming to 1.5 degrees, the maximum they can survive. It’s what all the scientists are calling for too. Australia is outrageously trying to strong-arm them into a treaty for a 2 degree rise – which would see them sunk out of existence.

Is this the Australia we want to be? The bad guy? Place a phonecall to Kevin Rudd, like he’s been doing to our Pacific friends, and tell him it’s not just our island neighbours who stand behind the science – we all want a treaty that delivers a safe climate:

If you’d listened to Kevin Rudd’s speech this morning, you’d have thought he actually cares about climate change. He’s saying one thing in public, and then working furiously to undermine efforts for a good treaty behind the scenes. Phone him today before his negotiations wipe Pacific nations off the map.