Making Samoan Language an Equal Partner with English

The Samoa News recently ran an article written by Fili Sagapolutele about how Sen. Magalei Logovi’i declared that an Administration bill seeking to establish by law the Samoan Language and Culture Committee of American Samoa was tabled for future discussion.

The hearing commenced after last week’s Senate session, where the bill was introduced during first reading. The bill calls for the establishment of the commission to provide authoritative guidelines on Samoan language and culture in education, government, the economy and social life.

Furthermore, it establishes Samoan and English as the official languages of the Territory and as languages of instruction in all public schools of American Samoa.

Among the issues that the bill seeks to address is a current law, which states that classroom instruction in public schools shall be in the English language, but the Samoan language may be used when necessary to facilitate teaching in the English language.

Over the years there have been calls by educators and past leaders to change the law arguing that there are students who are better equipped to learn if the Samoan language is also an official language of teaching, along side the English language.

The Administration bill seeks to amend current law allowing classroom instruction for public schools to be conducted in both “Samoan” and the English language.

“To ensure students acquire proficiency in Samoan, English and academic subjects, the [ASG] Department of Education shall develop quality literacy programs based on research and the current needs of students,” according to the bill.

With only a few days left in the current 2nd Regular Session, Magalei called the committee hearing to review this proposed legislation, while Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono and others voiced their support.

Sen. Togiola T.A Tulafono said this same issues had been raised over the years and therefore it’s not new and recommended that the Senate not rush into making a final decision on such an important matter without more research along with an expert witnesses called to give testimony.

He recalled a provision of the law pertaining to the Office of Samoan Affairs that includes what’s called Institute of Samoan Language and Culture — and is set by statute based on legislation introduced several years ago by the late Sen. Fai’ivae Apelu Galeai.

Togiola believes that there are provisions of the current statute on the Institute of Samoan Language and Culture that may be similar or connected to provisions cited in the Administration bill that need to be reviewed.

He said that he is not sure if the current Administration had reviewed the statute on the Institute of Samoan Language and Culture, which has its own governing board, and it’s important to also look at this current law.

He also said the proposed law can be costly and this was a set-back for the Institute of Samoan Language and Culture in moving forward, “the cost” – which is an issue he says will also affect the proposed Commission.

Magalei declared that the decision for now is that the bill remains in committee for future review and a possible hearing, with witnesses to testify.

According to the bill’s preamble, there is a need to ensure the Samoan language remains vibrant to support the survival and development of the Fa’aSamoa. 

The preamble cites previous ASG reports which show that 90% of American Samoans speak Samoan as their home language or their first language, that the majority of students in public schools read three grades below level, and that more than 90% of high school graduates entering American Samoa Community College required Remedial English and Remedial Math.

Additionally, children learn the best when the first language of instruction is their mother tongue, and using the mother tongue in the classroom has been found to enhance classroom participation, decrease attrition, and increase the likelihood of family and community engagement in the child’s learning, and most research now concludes that learning achievement is enhanced when children are taught in their mother tongue for at least the first six-years of primary school before a second language is introduced.

Therefore, “it is critical that the Samoan Language be declared by Territorial law as one of the Official Languages in American Samoa and is recognized as of equal importance with the English Language in education, government, economic and social life of the people of American Samoa.”

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Embracing Tongan Language Week

I just love Pacific Islands language week in New Zealand, and I especially love how it continues despite constraints due to Covid… Radio New Zealand recently posted a report written by Sela Jane Hopgood about how primary schools in Auckland were among many institutions across the country taking up the call by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples to embrace Tongan language week online.

This year’s Uike Lea Faka-Tonga or Tongan Language week was a virtual affair because of the nation-wide lockdowns for Covid 19 said Minister Aupito William Sio.

The theme is Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e Ako Lelei, which in English, it means, Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand with holistic education.

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Tongan Design Flag. Whakata Gilberthorpe School 2021.

“Of course, right now, learning the traditional way – such as attending school or university – was on hold due to the current Covid-19 restrictions. Alert Level 4 and 3 means students must learn from home, and follow the golden rules,” Sio said.

Aupito said education is highly valued in the Kingdom of Tonga and this year’s Tonga Language Week explores the importance of education and how Aotearoa can benefit. “Holistic education completes the picture for many people – this knowledge gives them a sense of wholeness, and confidence in their own identity,” he said.

Glenbrae Primary School in Glen Innes is a part of the Manaiakalani Education Trust – a community of learners, whānau and educators in the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure (collectively known as Tāmaki) who embarked on a project to raise student outcomes and build capacity and engagement through the combination of media and digital technologies and effective teaching practice.

Its principal Christina Patea said that meant the transition to move Tongan language week online was smooth and the students adapted extremely well. “It’s just great to see our students who are proud of their culture and heritage be able to share this with our community even if it’s not face to face,” she said. “Our Tongan whānau have really gone all out with decking out their lounges with the colour red, doing their Tongan dances and singing hymns with pride.”

Glenbrae Primary School is predominantly Māori and Pasifika with a high percentage of Tongan families and Patea explained that it was very important for the school to acknowledge the Tongan culture.

“Part of the theme this year is about learning from the home and lockdown has done that, we’ve learnt a lot from the Tongan families who shared the culture with us in the virtual way. It is a tough time being in lockdown, and so this week of celebrating a culture has helped bring smiles to a lot of people in our community,” Patea said.

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New Zealand Olympian, Valerie Adams. Photo from http://www.zimbio.com

Nga Iwi Primary School in Māngere have been hosting daily Zoom every day this week at midday and on Wednesday’s video conferencing session the students had a surprise New Zealand celebrity guest join in.

“We were very honoured to have the presence of Valerie Adams and her sister Lisa jump on our Zoom this week to celebrate Tongan language week with us,” Principal Michelle Fepuleai said.

She explained that Valerie is the niece of one of their Tongan staff members and they were grateful she made time for them while she was in managed isolation quarantine.

“She spoke first about her upbringing in Māngere, being an Olympian and representing New Zealand, but also carrying the Tongan flag close to her heart and her inspiration, which she said was her late mother,” she said.

Stanhope Road Primary School in Mt Wellington has over 60 cultures in their community, with a third being Pasifika and Tonga being the largest ethnic group in the school.

Leilani Salesa is a teacher at Stanhope Road, and she said because the celebration of the Tongan language has moved online, the staff decided to get students into positions of leadership and expertise and lead the content that was shared online on their Facebook page. “We had our juniors doing activities like spelling out Tongan words using resources they found at home. We were getting multi-generational videos where grandparents and parents support their children to participate in learning new Tongan words,” she said.

Salesa shared that the staff members participated in the fun too by sharing a video of them all attempting the language in their bubbles.

“We have no Tongan teachers in Stanhope, but that didn’t stop us from researching into the culture, so that we can lead by example for our students.

“As part of the action plan for Pacific Education, we want to enable every teacher at our school to do their best by Pacific learners,” Salesa said.

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Sustaining the Kava Boom in Solomon Islands

Recently journalist Samson Sade of the Solomon Times wrote an interesting article about the current retailing of Solomon Islands kava. 

Go to any village in rural Solomon Islands and chances are you will find someone cultivating kava, the new craze, said to be replacing more traditional crops such as copra and cocoa.

Unlike copra and cocoa, kava is new, not many people drink kava, or have a good understanding of the technical aspects of the crop – which often determines the quality of the kava once harvested. Trainings are being implemented throughout the Solomon Islands by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), the most recent was in Arosi, Makira-Ulawa Province.

MAL principal field officer (PFO), Michael Tanisapa, said that “increasing production of the targeted cash crops and making sure farmers meet market requirements are of paramount importance.”

“To guarantee farmers acquire knowledge to improve their farm output, MAL has implemented such activities through the provision of projects to farmers and support through technical advice, awareness and trainings to boost their capacity.”

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Photo from nakamalathome.com

Such an approach is important since most farmers are driven by the ‘hype’ around kava where the current local price is around SBD$250 per kg. The US market is currently retailing at around USD$100 per kg, or SBD$800 per kg, but this is the finished product so it is properly packaged and sold online.

So, there is certainly good reasons to be excited. But it may not be that simple to sustain this boom in kava interest.

As kava from the Solomon Islands expands outside of the Pacific Islands, and expands into different industries worldwide, quality assurance becomes a very important issue. Not too long-ago kava was banned in the European market, one of the more lucrative markets globally.

Since than many Pacific Islands have developed quality assurance policies and have invested, through private enterprises, the local capacity to test kava.

A major success story is Fiji Kava Limited, also known as Taki Mai, one of two large kava processing facilities in Fiji. It is the first kava company to list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and in 2019 opened the world’s first kava tissue culture laboratory, which will clone parent kava plants and grow standardised, quality-controlled plantlets at its factory in Levuka, the old capital of Fiji.

This is perhaps the only way to sustain and grow our kava market – we need to learn from those that are leaders in the kava industry. What seems clear is that we need to have proper policies in place to guide and develop the quality of our kava.

To date, what we certainly have is quantity – but quality is what counts. Solomon Islands kava is already being sold in the US, though in small quantities it does show the potential the crop has for our rural farmers.

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Vaka Voyage of a Young Cook Islands Crew

A couple of weeks ago a crew of young Cook Islanders had embarked on a journey through the 15 islands of the Cooks, across two million square kilometres of ocean, with only the stars, wind and ocean currents to guide them.

Aboard a traditional vaka, Marumaru Atua, they learn learned how their tipuna navigated across the great blue moana, without the use of electronic aids.

Marumaru Atua is not only be a vessel for our people, but a vessel of traditional knowledge and ocean navigation. The Marumaru Atua is the only Cook Islands traditional canoe that is operated today. The Cook Island Voyaging Society strongly encourage everyone to join in the revitalization of their ancient voyaging roots so that everyone may ensure the growth and development of the next generation of navigators. 

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The Marumaru Atua. Photo by http://www.cookislandsnews.com

Alannah Smith has been on board for the northern part of the voyage. She told Morning report it was an amazing journey. “Going into the vaka I was definitely apprehensive, with all the elements you’re out in the ocean in a small boat and you kind of go into it a little scared I suppose. The feeling when you’re on board, it’s like our guardians are watching over us.”

“A lot of it is using the stars to guide you along your course at night time,” Smith said. “Using the waves as well, reading the waves to direct you as well.”

While the group were only able to visit five of the six islands planned for the first half of the voyage, and six weeks at sea became seven, Smith said things have mostly gone to plan so far.

Having travelled to the northern island groups, the next stage is to reach the southern islands.

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Guam Museum Reopens

Journalist Madison Scott recently wrote a piece for the Pacific Daily News about the reopening of the Guam Museum.

In a time when travel off island has been limited for over a year, cabin fever can start to feel all too familiar. But if you know where to look, exploring the depths of the place we call home can be even more fulfilling than a brief jaunt to a far away land.

Residents and visitors alike should avail themselves as soon as possible of the recently reopened Guam Museum. Their permanent exhibit, “I Hinanao-Ta Nu Manaotao Tåno’-I CHamoru Siha: The Journey of the CHamoru People,” is not be missed.

The museum is jam packed with artifacts, photographs, artwork, and fascinating information — so the current restriction of 30 minutes is hardly enough time to take it all in. I’m telling you now, this place is worth multiple trips!

Lucky for you, Guam Museum curator Michael Lujan Bevacqua knows this exhibit like the back of his hand, and was kind enough to share his insights with me before and during my own tour.

According to Bevacqua, the museum chronicles “how the CHamoru culture has evolved over time, you know, the experiences of the CHamoru people prior to colonization, and in response to colonization. And so, the museum, the main exhibit … is made up of a series of galleries, which each tackle a different part of the CHamoru story.”

Our recommendation is to use this article to help you determine your priorities before you go. Take some time to look at everything, but make sure to set aside time for the galleries that capture your interest most.

The exhibit consists of an introductory film and five galleries that flow into one another. The film, a beautifully crafted combination of animation and live action, tells the CHamoru creation story of Fu’una and Puntan, and how the CHamoru people returned to the island of Guam many years after humanity was born.

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The Guam Museum. Photo by http://www.visitguam.com

From there, you enter the first gallery, “I Tasi Yan I Tano’: The Sea and the Land.” Walking through this hall feels as though you’re in the jungle, and includes artifacts that date back to (at least) 1500 B.C. Its focus is on how the environment provided for ancient CHamorus and was utilized by them in their foodways, artwork, and customs.

As you enter the second gallery you’re greeted by one of the most exciting moments in the exhibit — a suspended ¼ scale replica of a CHamoru sakman!

Bevacqua loves to share this item with guests, because it highlights the fact that the humans who first arrived to the Marianas and became known as the CHamoru people were the first in human history to navigate long expanses of open ocean. Journeys of comparable distance didn’t happen elsewhere in the world for roughly 2,000 years.

Other exciting features in this gallery include examples of CHamoru architecture, and a 500- to 800-year-old human skull found in Tinian in 1998. With the press of a button, the skull transforms to a construction of what that person may have looked like alive.

The next gallery is called “The Time of Change,” which focuses on what happens after colonization. Bevacqua says people tend to spend a lot of time here.

“This is the one that people like a lot, because sometimes in some of the images, people will see familiar sites … What’s nice about when you get to this section, it becomes a little bit closer, right? Because now, you can look and say, ‘Oh, this is the church. You know, this is the church that my grandparents went to, you know, it’s not there anymore. It was destroyed in the war, but I remember seeing pictures of it,’” Bevacqua said.

This section contains many elements. A ticker tape runs along the displays on the wall, helping viewers to place events in Guam history within their understanding of global history.

Describing this area, Bevacqua said, “It has all of these little islands in the middle of the room, that have different pictures, and different artifacts, showing the cultural changes, but also showing how there are a number of enduring values for the people. So even if people changed the way that they dressed, even if people changed the way that they spoke a little bit, there’s still things that persist. There’s still values that remain.”

This gallery feeds into the fourth section, focused on World War II. Photographs have been blown up to the size of the walls, allowing viewers to feel encompassed by the destruction wreaked on the island during the conflict. This is one of many somber and deeply important chapters in Guam history.

Finally, downstairs, the fifth gallery focuses on postwar Guam. Here you find information about political developments on Guam, including the ongoing work for CHamoru self-determination and the protection of natural resources.

In October, the museum will open a temporary exhibit in partnership with the Japanese consulate called “The Spirit of Budo,” focusing on Samurai culture, weaponry, and armor. Pending public health measures, they may also open the museum on Saturdays.

You can also experience elements of the Guam Museum from home! Their Facebook page is updated regularly with historic photos and stories, and is where updates regarding exhibits and hours can be found.

Facebook users also can take advantage of the museum’s monthly event, “Faisen I Guam Museum!” or “Ask the Guam Museum.” During the event, Bevacqua answers questions about Guam History and CHamoru culture.

The Guam Museum is an incredible asset to our island. Whether you’ve been here all your life or have recently made a home here, there is plenty inside to connect you to the complex, profound, and beautiful history of the CHamoru people. It is well worth a 30-minute visit, and is bound to leave you wanting more.

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Tokoroa’s Cook Islands Women Celebrated in New Book

A couple of weeks ago Radio New Zealand posted an article about the launching of a new book that detailed the lives of 12 Cook Islands women in Tokoroa, New Zealand, which coincided with Cook Islands Language Week.

Te Kinakina: E Ngara I te Ngari, Remember who you are and where you come from is the result of a series of creative writing workshops led by poet Vaughan Rapatahana and facilitated by South Waikato Pacific Island Community Services (SWPICS) with support from the Ministry of Education and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.

The book opens with introductions by Papa Timote Turu and editor Vaughan Rapatahana, and the stories are illustrated with colour photographs.

These elements combine to create an illuminating account of Pasifika life in Aotearoa, and confirm the authors’ communal commitment to kōpu tangata, family, home, church and each other.

Tokoroa is known as the the ‘sixteenth star’ because there is 15 islands in the Cook Islands, and the 15 stars on their flag represents the 15 islands and Tokoroa is the ‘sixteenth star’ because it’s the biggest Cook Islands community outside of the Cook Islands,” Rapatahana said.

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Te Kinakina: E Ngara I te Ngari, a book celebrating the lives Cook Islands women in Tokoroa. Photo from Waikato Pacific Island Community Services

“They came here [Tokoroa] to work at initially the New Zealand Forest Products mill in Kinleith, in the forest industry, although some went to Mangakino to work on the dam project, this is way back in the 1940s and throughout the 1950s. And because of the huge importance placed on whanaungatanga and whanau, many of the Cook Islands families who came here brought over their relatives and other families who actually stayed with them for a long period of time until the new arrivals got established, who were basically at Kinleith as well,” he said.

He said it is an important book for two reasons. “For the first time it sets out in detail the experiences of Cook Islands women living in Tokoroa, and their combined stories express many emotions, portray many events, and display several consistent themes.”

SWPICS CEO Akarere Henry, who is also one of the contributing authors, said the writing project and resulting anthology is very special to the community. “We see it as a realisation of some of the aspirations and dreams of our community. We’re so grateful and proud to be able to share our stories in this way,” she said.

Te Kinakina: E Ngara I te Ngari, Remember who you are and where you come from will be available, in limited edition, from all good bookshops and libraries.

Cook Islands language week ended August 7.

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Weaving a Net(work) of Care for Oceania Collections

 
 
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Here’s a call for Pacific Islanders working in cultural heritage organizations to participate in a program sponsored by the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Museum Institute…

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Museum Institute (NHPIMI) will provide early to mid-career professional development to 20 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders working in museums and cultural heritage centers in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, including Hawaiʻi, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. Presented by the University of Hawai‘i and the East-West Center, and in partnership with the Pacific Islands Museums Association, the institute will focus on three distinct but related areas: (1) collections care; (2) conservation; and (3) exhibitions.

The Oceanic collections that these professionals care for tell important stories about Pacific peoples and their contributions to the United States and the world. Unfortunately, opportunities for professional development are few and far between, and even when they are offered, they do not often align to the needs, values, and cultural practices of these diverse communities. This institute not only seeks to provide education, training, and support, but commits to doing so through a collaborative process that is responsive to regional, institutional and participant needs.

Participants will receive instruction from well-respected national and international experts and receive hands-on training at some of the top museums in Hawaiʻi. The program will initially begin virtually, with meetings twice a month for six months (Jan-June, 2022), and will culminate in a one month in-person institute in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (July, 2022). All expenses will be covered, including travel, housing and a modest per diem. The selection process, which will be conducted with a peer-review panel, will be completed in late September. Applicants will be notified of the results in early October.

The institute begins on January 10, 2022 with the in-person training program taking place in the Summer of 2022.

In 1975, the East-West Center held a training program to assist communities in “conserving their cultural heritage and maintaining their cultural identities.” Over a dozen people from throughout the Pacific received six months of hands-on training in: (1) ethnomusicology; (2) museology; and (3) archives management. Activities included organizing temporary exhibitions in the EWC gallery where “every aspect of launching an exhibit, even the construction of tables and display cases, was undertaken by participants.”

Inspired by this history, the UH-Mānoa Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program approached EWC. It has been nearly 50 years since EWC’s program was offered, and we would take a similar approach but make it six weeks instead of six months. Through consultation with Tarisi Vunidilo, Secretary General of the Pacific Island Museums Association, we would focus on three areas of need: (1) collections care; (2) conservation; and (3) exhibition development.

We know intuitively that there needs to be more training for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander museum professionals. Existing training programs are often unavailable to Pacific Islanders, economically or geographically, and even those that are do not meet their needs. A 2014 Mellon survey noted only 1.4% percent of art museum staff were Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, and none at all were in leadership positions.

For more information, see the attached flyer and the youtube link.

An informational session for the institute will be held on August 26, 2021 at 6:00pm, Hawai’i Time.

 
 
 

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Restoring Women’s Weaving in Post-Disaster Vanuatu

The ICH Courier Online (Intellectual Cultural Heritage) recently posted an interesting article about the Pandanus Bank blong Mi program in Vanuatu to support resilience building, peacebuilding, and safeguarding of the ICH of displaced Ambaean weavers and artists.

In April 2017, Ambae’s Manaro volcano, Mount Lombenben, rumbled continuously, spewing torrents of volcanic matter and gas from its crater, covering the majority of the island in thick layers of ash, hampering water sources, and destroying vegetable plots and gardens. The government of Vanuatu ordered a mandatory evacuation of the island and the people of Ambae were forced to relocate to neighboring islands—Pentecost, Maewo, and Espiritu Santo—leaving their homes, animals, and crops behind. The impact was devastating. Schooling was disturbed, livelihoods perished, and many people struggled with trauma and the challenges of integrating into new communities where they didn’t have strong connections or access to land and natural resources.

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Photo © Gina Kaitiplel, Further Arts

Six months into the massive displacement exercise, Further Arts partnered with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and UNESCO to conduct a post-disaster assessment of Ambae’s ICH. Working closely with the Ambae Council of Chiefs, representatives of which were largely displaced to Santo, we received their endorsement to support the documentation of community stories to safeguard cultural knowledge and practices.

At this time, we found that women overwhelmingly spoke about the loss of cultural heritage and practice, and in particular their weaving skills, in light of their living conditions in relocation camps. Their cultural heritage was at risk. In partnership with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, and with funding from the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia (PaCSIA), Further Arts was able to return to displaced Ambae communities in the following year to speak with community members and explore possibilities for how they could continue their weaving practices and transfer skills to younger generations.

Since 2018, Further Arts has implemented the Pandanus Bank blong Mi program to support resilience building, peacebuilding, and safeguarding of the ICH of displaced Ambaean weavers and artists. Rita Bill, Further Arts fieldworker in Santo, facilitated connections between the displaced communities and other communities in Santo to supply pandanus leaves to Ambaean women to continue their weaving activities in their temporary residence. More than twenty communities in Sanma Province donated rolls of dried leaves ready for weaving. We are indebted to the support toward this effort of key partners in Sanma, including the Sanma Council of Chiefs. Communities on nearby Malekula and Pentecost islands also contributed rolls of pandanus leaves.

With access to leaves, displaced Ambaean women were engaged and empowered to become more self-reliant, and their communal weaving activities became a force to build peace and bridge the divide between displaced and host communities. It has also been successful in diverting them from possible negative behaviors and patterns in the post-disaster idleness, such as crime, conflict, or gambling.

Pandanus in Vanuatu is one of the most highly valued natural resources. Weaving in Vanuatu is sustained through customary beliefs and value systems that dictate how one should handle pandanus leaves, when and where one should weave, and so on. Weaving is likewise a strong part of the Ambaean identity; it is essential to their traditional way of life in the post-disaster contemporary context, and is an important resource to support sustainable rural livelihoods.

Mats are used in all aspects of the lives of the people of Ambae. In South Ambae alone, we recorded over nine different types of mat, such as those used for traditional dressing, marriage, burials, blankets, trade, and other everyday purposes. Each tribe of Ambae have their unique mats and designs, of which they retain the knowledge regarding preparation, measurement, use, and value.

There are also traditional songs for specific mats that are sung by the tribes, and different materials are used to create designs and motifs, and to dye the mats. The unique patterns and designs of the mats are not given away freely by master weavers. Young weavers must earn the right to listen to stories of weaving and sing the traditional songs before actually learning how to weave a particular pattern. Efforts by local chiefs and communities are in progress to safeguard these customs, and ensure protection when passing knowledge to younger generations.

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Canoe Constructed on Hawaii Used for Education

The Hawaii Tribune Herald recently ran an article written by Laura Ruminski about how the villages of La‘i‘opua last month celebrated the first educational canoe constructed on Hawaii Island in almost three decades.

Community members and cultural practitioners on July 10 gathered on the grounds of La‘i‘opua 2020 where the wa‘a had been constructed under the direction of Iko Balanga.

“It all started one day with a conversation while sitting on the couch,” Balanga said to community members at the celebration. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wa‘a? And I said ‘let’s build one.’ This whole thing is not about me and my family, it’s about us. All of us.”

Iko Balanga explains how the canoe was made. Photo by Laura Ruminski.

Chadd Paishon, Pwo/Master Navigator and Cultural Advisor of the project, gifted a genealogy chant to the wa‘a, named La‘i‘opua.

The chant, “Au e Ua Hiti E” written in 1995 by Pua Case and Halau Hula Ke‘alaonamapua is one used to welcome sailing canoes. La‘i‘opua was inserted into the chant to honor the new vessel.

Translated, the chant says: “At long last the La‘i‘opua have arrived…Yes it has arrived. Said of a fast traveler. Said of a courageous person. Indeed it has arrived. Pitch in with a will by everyone and the work is quickly done. Hunger is satisfied or one has arrived. Bring forth the canoe in the night, in the light, in the light, in the night. The canoe will journey in the sea and return, La‘i‘opua…Indeed it has arrived.”

“It is an honor anytime we are able to come together as a community,” Paishon said. “Our voyaging canoes are able to connect us. Forty-five years ago Hokule‘a set sail and returned to Tahiti, connecting us again.”

Paishon said there are currently 28 canoes sailing. “That’s who we are. That’s where we come from,” he continued. “We cannot sail by ourselves. We need the community.”

He said the wa‘a is our mother. “We care for the wa‘a like we care for our mother and the captain is our father.” “We can only do it because we come from amazing communities,” he said, noting the last voyage of Makali‘i was solely stocked with provisions harvested and prepared by members of the Big Island community.

On July 10, demonstrations and hands on learning in lashing, weaving, knots and pa‘i ai (undiluted poi), all instrumental in a sailing canoe were passed down to a new generation. Although the hulls are complete, the flooring between the hulls and sail rigging still need to be completed before launching the wa‘a.

Rooting the culture deep in the land and supporting the community for growth and expansion are at the heart of La‘i‘opua 2020, a nonprofit organization serving the residents of Hawaiian homelands, the Villages of La‘i‘opua, the Kealakehe ahupua‘a and surrounding areas. “This canoe belongs to the community, La‘i‘opua, and beyond; passing on the knowledge for generations to come,” said Kawehi Inaba, Board president, L2020.

“We’re excited to keep it going,” Balanga said.

La‘i‘opua was a collaborative effort between Balanga, his brother Jun, community members and students. The double hull canoe is made of sapele and poplar wood with a fiberglass finish.

 
 

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Empowering Young Girls Through Music in Tonga

A Young Girls Music Festival to encourage young talents in music was held on August 6 in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

Hosted by Talitha Project the festival had around 100 adolescent girls taking part from various schools and groups from throughout Tongatapu and the outer islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai.

The mission of the Talitha Project is to meet the needs of the young women and girls by providing various programs, resources and partnerships with other NGOs, Faith Based Organization and Government.  Part of the services provided under this organization is the provision of drop in center for marginalized girls and young women who need empowerment, security, counseling, training in development, income generate skills, support and love.

Talitha Project Founder Vanessa Heleta said today, the festival was a platform to encourage and appreciate these young talents in music and art. “Every item reflected their talent because it is very important that we create a platform to enhance their creativity,” she said.

One of the performers, ‘Elisapesi Koloamatangi (age 18) wrote an original song titled ‘Unbroken’ which she sang and played the guitar to encourage women and girls who are experiencing domestic violence to stand strong, she said. “The festival was more than just music, it provided a platform where the girls expressed issues important to them.”

The program were in two parts, featured eight booths in various forms like art, karaoke, and information on COVID-19, Girls in Rugby, cyber bullying and photography. This raised their awareness of Talitha’s mandate, current activities and also boost their self-confidence to dream big, she said.

The main event was the stage when the girls took part in choir singing, singing with instruments as well as Tongan-Polynesian dances and Tik Tok.

Held at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall, the festival was part of Talitha Project’s “My Body, My Rights Program” under a Pacific Girls Program funded by the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, an Australian initiative.

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