Saturday, 17 May 2014


When I was doing my bachelors degree
Nothing annoyed me more
Than the temerity
Of those mature age students

You know the earnest kind
That asked questions
Or wanted to discuss

the feminist perspective

that seemed interested in the actual course
like they may have done the actual readings
and wanted to actually discuss
the actual ideas

acting like they came here to learn

when the rest of us
just wanted

to go

to Shadows

and get


wake up in someone else’s bed drunk
but it’s ok
because I can’t actually remember
how I got there anyway
and there are songs that tell me that I can
blame it on the a –a –a –a alcohol

I was doing law

and you KNOW there is nothing as arrogant
as a fucking law-student-straight-out-of-high-school
(the decile ten ones where everyone’s daddy is a doctor
or a judge)
who think they own the world
even when
they’re barely
scraping through

those golden children
who tell themselves their parents
should be grateful
because they are fulfilling
their dreams

who sit in class
playing candy crush
or waiting to see how many people like
their statuses
on facebook
who can’t wait

                    to cross-examine

the shit

out of someone

in real life.

But in real life

I work in a male dominated industry

And get paaaaaiiiiiid (hi 5 to me)
much more than my sisters ever will
despite their Masters degrees
in early childhood education

and I barely even have time
to reflect on that
or on life’s other little ironies
as I pass off my children off
to them
at 8am
and kiss their foreheads
and say confidently
“Mummy’s going out
to change the world”.

In real life

There are hardworking
Who will never get the opportunity
To go to university
No matter how much we talk about equality

Who won’t know
that they are smart enough
Who haven’t been told
how clever they are
Because their mum’s busy mopping the supermarket floor
and their dad is going on another night tour
those kids don’t need
to learn humility
they see it
in the eyes of their parents




they get off the phone
with WINZ

so they can’t even imagine
taking on a loan
they just want to go out
and save
their family
from drowning in debt

and yet

When I was doing my bachelors degree
Nothing annoyed me more
Than the temerity
Of those mature age students

Acting like
they came here

to learn.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

I have a daughter

I have a daughter
I dress her in pink
And tell her to try very hard not to think
Its dangerous you know
To believe fairytale prose
Like equal work for equal wage
It really could happen some day
I have a daughter
I dress her in pink

I have a daughter
I dress her in green
And tell her to grow up not to look like me
Grow up to be tall, long, lean
Hide your face behind makeup before you are seen
Because beauty is currency and you can trade
No one is interested in your soul anyway
I have a daughter
I dress her in green

I have a daughter
I dress her in blue
And tell her she will always have a right to choose
Unless she is forced
then we’ll ask with remorse
But what did you wear, what did you drink
and why were you there
I have a daughter
I dress her in blue

I have a daughter
I dress her in red
And tell her if she guards her virginity one day she’ll be wed
And then she can stand proudly as the Minister intones
About how woman was made from Adam’s bone
And how her husband, like Jesus, shall be the head
And she, the church, his body that bled
I have a daughter
I dress her in red

I have a daughter
I dress her in white
And tell her how to avoid getting into fights
Because boys will be boys and they can’t control
And as women we must learn this role
Be meek and mild, know your place
To ensure his fist doesn’t connect with your face
I have a daughter
I dress her in white

I have a daughter

I dress her

in black.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Kept safe in five syllables

                                    Photo Credit: Lynne-Marie Eteuati

Kept safe in five syllables

a haiku for my
faraway parents
        alofa tele atu

Parents in Japan
See cherry trees blossoming
Here grandchildren bloom

Fleeting beauty bolts
past like childhood much too fast
and we clutch at both

constrained by ingrained
tautua mo Samoa
My father’s duty

We know no beauty
can compare but true service
is a sacrifice

and both of them have
always been so generous
of spirit and self

honour them knowing
their Facebook smiles do not show
they left their hearts here

Ta - ni - fa -te - a
Kept safe in five syllables
Ti - gi - i - la - gi

Author's postscript: I honour my parents and I honour the work they do for our country, and I have the deepest respect for the beautiful cultured country that they do that work in (which is why I clumsily tried to use the haiku- a Japanese art form).  But we miss them- terribly.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Just another Pasifika poet

I am just another Pasifika poet
a token, a sound bite
No matter what I write
my words cannot stand
on their own
because I am not quite white.

I am just another Pasifika poet
so I must speak in iambic pentameter
    or you will conclude
I don’t know what that is
and I learnt my craft on youtube

You will say I must be copying Def Poetry Jam
Because you know

We are
both brown.

who have never heard the beauty
of a tulafale’s words
unfurling in full flight
   dipping and soaring
on wings of light
                      the sound of a gafa
melodious and sweet
                                                and deep
a dangerous lullaby
that can rip you apart with its teeth

would not understand


you say

I am just another Pasifika poet
On a search for identity
As if I don’t know
my entire geneaology
you say I am obsessed with the other
because I do not talk about you
as if Aotearoa is not part of the Pacific
and Pasifika
does not belong here too

and the most disturbing thing is

you didn’t even
to realize
that what you were saying was offensive
or how it was a stereotype
you truly seemed to believe





because you are


(I assume…
like you did)

and your words


on their own.

and I


just another 
Pasifika poet
No matter what I write
My words cannot stand
on their own
Because I am not quite white
and this


is just another sound bite

I hope it rips you apart

with its teeth.

Author's postscript:  I was not going to dignify an 'article' that was published in The Big Idea with a response.  I went instead to SUP and performed a couple of the poems (Denial and A Lament -that are already up on this blog) in solidarity.  But it was not enough.  Too often we look the other way.  As evident by the title of this blog-  I normally live in Sydney.  I have lived in Australia for more than 10 years now.  As an Australian (as well as a Samoan and a New Zealander) I own that Australia has issues with racism.  Popular culture tell us that New Zealand is more accepting, a place that truly embraces its Pacific heritage.  I was looking forward to this change during my 'gap year' (as I am referring to it so I can sound youthful like that). So I have been somewhat shocked that New Zealand hasn't quite been the utopia of multi-cultural respect that I fondly recalled.  I can honestly say that I have had moments since arriving in Auckland where I have listened to people speak, or read an article such as this one, and thought that I have never felt more brown.  This is my response.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I am not a migrant or a refugee

I am not a migrant or a refugee
Sometimes that still shocks me
The me that is not quite white
The me that listens as people trip
over the soft round vowels of my name
The me that refuses to cover
the tattoos that show me as other
and knows that neither my father nor mother
are Australian

I am not a migrant or a refugee
Though my people are of the sea
So that when someone is a true leader
We call them
One who has warred with waves.
It is a title of respect, of honour
But here, here, I hear
Stop the boats
And wonder where the honour is 
in people playing politics with people's lives
As Machiavelli thrives, and they sharpen knives, and we don't stop as they dehumanise
And 'welcome to Australia'
gets drowned
Like those children THEY like to throw overboard.
 are so much better than
We'd only put those children in detention
And call that civilised.
We call it humanity and generosity
as we send them off to Nauru and PNG
And we say
oh well
I am not a migrant or refugee

I am not a migrant or a refugee
I'm an Australian by accident of birth I say blithely
To explain that I was born when my dad was doing his PhD
And we left when I was three
to a place where the Southern Cross meant something other
then a badge for bogans
who tell you to get the fuck out of the country
that Captain Cook claimed to have discovered
when it had long since
been found. 

No, I am not a migrant or a refugee

But if this is the quality of our discourse

Then God, oh my God

Allah huma Allah

We really need the diversity.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Lament

Oi aue

In Samoan love stories

We would turn into

Turtle and shark.

Nature tells us

One will consume the other.

Oi aue

In Samoan love stories

Sina’s prince is an eel

And happily ever after

Is when her beloved

Is beheaded

Transformed into a niu

So she can finally (safely) drink

His sweet sweet juice.

Oi aue

In Samoan love stories

Men chase beautiful white women

Into woods

and are never seen again.

And one

blessed so that he could not lose in battle

was beguiled by beauty

into bed

and ambushed, betrayed, killed dead

a pale of lau maile

still around his head.

They say the fires of A’ana

Burnt bright

Fuelled by fury

and revenge

and lit John William’s journey

into harbour.

Oi aue




For mine is a Samoan love story

And we all know

How they end.

Author's Postscript

What effect do our stories have on us?

The Samoan love stories I grew up with all contained dire warnings about investing too much of yourself in romantic love... after all that may distract one from the all consuming love for the aiga so

important in our culture

Of course no race has an exclusive claim on charm (and of course I am biased), but I have always found my people charming- quick to laughter and to song, with an easy confidence and a fantastic sense of humour. Conversely, there is a cavalier attitude to relationships and to monogamy. Not for us the outrage and universal condemnation when someone steps out on what is supposed to be a committed relationship.
This poem is a reflection and a lament
on Samoan love

Malofie- sharing the beauty of the malu and the pe'a

A very clever, creative and culturally sensitive Samoan friend of mine (with a malu) is collecting stories and photos from around the world of those with the tatau (malu or pe'a) and considering putting together a coffee table book. I think this is a fantastic project and having met Samoans all over the world, I can just imagine how stunning it will be and I'm very excited to see her taking it on.

Please support this by sharing this link, liking this page, and by sharing your own wonderful stories and photos wherever you are on