Launch of the Le Tiumasalasala Dance Theater in Samoa

Adel Fruean of the samoaobserver wrote that the official launch of the Le Tiumasalasala Dance Theater was held at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel earlier this year. Le Tiumasalasala Dance Theater director, 32-year-old Eterei Maiava Salele, said the troupe has 14 dancers including herself and was formed in August 2018. “The launch was to officially introduce Le Tiumasalasala into the community as a dance group and introducing all the programs and everything that we will be doing this year,” she said.

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Ms. Salele added, “The production has been planned since last year and I had assistance from my two Fijian choreographers: Glenville Lord and Tulevu Tora. We all met through the late Seiuli Tuilagi Allan Alo Vaai because we were the core dancers for Seiuli. I am very blessed to have them come in and help out. The meaning of the show besides our launching was also to portray a lot of social issues that our country faces and also the world,” she said.

The dance group brings something different and unique in expressing themselves, culture, language and heritage through dancing. They believe that dancing is another way of showcasing arising issues that needs to be addressed and the consequences the Pacific Islanders face.

The dance group will focus on the celebration of life hence the name of the production, according to Eterei. “Alive is a reference of our thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for life which we have been blessed with. But we also looked at some serious issues are and using performing arts to portray the message that this is reality and it is happening. An example of one of the issues we conveyed through one of our performances was domestic violence.”

“I believe that putting it in a live show, showcases a different effect because people get to see and witness how it looks like. Another piece we did was climate change and the strongest production we did was injustice,” she added.

Finally, Ms. Salele said, “The name of our group refers to the full costume of the daughter of a high chief in a village which is known as a ‘taupou’ but the significance of the name is that it holds Samoan culture which is our identity and we intend to carry it with us wherever we go.”

 

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“The Inseparables”- Cook Islands

Our first Pacific Islands legend of 2019 is a short and sweet story that comes to us from the island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands. This is one of my favorite legends and can be found in the book, Tales Told in Hawaii.

Don’t forget that you can view all of artist, Tara Bonvillain, illustrations on our Website in one place. Simply click here to view them.

Enjoy the story!

The Inseparables 

Boy and Girl Inseparable were twins who loved each other dearly. But they had a mother who scolded from morning until night. One night as they lay on their grass mats and wept because they had been spanked for nothing at all and sent to bed hungry, they heard their mother say to their father, “Come, let us have a feast of fish. No, you shall not wake those children. They shall eat cold fish in the morning.”

The twins wept as they smelled the fish cooking and hunger gnawed at their stomachs. Girl Inseparable said, “Let us flee away forever.”

As they stole into the moonlight their tears made a dotted trail across the slanting shadows of the coconut grove and along the rock wall of the mullet pond. They climbed the cliff that stood close to the sky and their tears fell into twin basins in the rocks. Girl Inseparable gazed into her tearpool and saw the young moon reflected there. “Let us become stars,” she said. She took hold of Boy Inseparable’s girdle and together they leaped into the sky.

When the parents finished their feast they found the tear-wet pillows of the twins. They searched for them and at last found a path of teardrops which wound through the coconut palms, past the mullet pond, and up the trail to the cliffs. The father gazed into the tearpool and saw a reflected two small stars. “There are our Inseparables!” cried he, pointing to the sky.

The Inseparables (Cook Islands)

“The Inseparables,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2019.

The parents wept and wailed and begged the children to return. The mother wiped her tears with her long black hair and said, “If they will not return, we too shall become stars.” And they leaped to a place in the sky.

To this day some of the children of the Pacific sing of the Inseparables in sorrowful little voices that make your heart ache. They point out the small twin stars of Scorpio. The two larger stars of Scorpio are the parents who have never been able to overtake their children.

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The Newly Renovated USP Library

A couple of weeks ago the University of South Pacific (USP) Library celebrated the Opening Ceremony of their newly renovated library on their Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji. The newly renovated library will cater the seating of 1120 students.

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The Learning Commons is located on Level A of the University Library and has newly renovated interactive spaces for students to study. It supports a holistic approach to academic support for students, through a more flexible learning environment that enables an efficient and effective, coordinated and collaborative approach to learning and teaching.

It also complements the shifts in educational pedagogy and enhances learning, teaching and student support through a more flexible learning and information sharing environment.

The Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific, Professor Pal Ahluwalia officially opened the library and said, “A good library is essential to ensuring students and researchers that they have the best access to what the world has to offer.”

Professor Ahluwalia noted that a pleasing thing about this initiative is that the library is now transforming itself into a more interactive learning space, and this, he added, will bring about a difference among the students. “This Library Commons will provide students with a more flexible environment for learning which is in tune with the kind of pedagogies that the University is trying to encourage and develop,” Professor Ahluwalia said.

The university librarian, Elizabeth Reade Fong, said the renovation was done to cater for the learning styles of Millennials, included their preference of technology and devices. Ms. Fong said their aim was to support and expand the student-centered approaches. “Our independent learning process accommodates different study types such as, group or quiet, and reflects the diversity of human behavior,” she said. “Our vision for USP Library is to be a premiere academic library and leader in information provision and services in the Pacific region.”

Ms. Fong added, “Our mission is to advance the university’s mission by providing equitable regional access to excellent library and information services, resources and facilities for students and faculty and the wider Pacific community to facilitate their lifelong learning activities.”

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Ms. Elizabeth Reade Fong and Vice Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia at Library Opening Ceremony, photo by USP.

Some of the services provided at the Learning Commons include: One-stop-shop that provides space for student support services inclusive of SLS, ITS, SAS, and the Disability Unit; bookable discussions spaces named Latui, Belo and Kikau; general use Yalu Lounge: Information Research Skills (IRS) Lab dedicated to information literacy training , Learning Labs; Coffee cart service; a gender neutral toilet; and a seating capacity of up to 600 users.

“The library benchmarks itself against international library and technology scene; whilst we think Global we also act Local,” Ms Fong said.

The USP Library network, comprising 22 libraries that are located across the USP member countries offers more than 1 million books, 26,000 full text titles accessible via multidisciplinary databases with 24/7 access from the Library website, and over 300 print serial subscriptions.

 

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New Sculpture on Rarotonga

A couple of months ago the Cook Islands News ran an article by Jaimie Keay that I’ve been meaning to share. It was about how a new sculpture at the Royale Takitumu Resort was catching the attention of tourists, as well as it was attracting the locals.

To see a photo of the sculpture please click here.

he 4.2-meter piece designed by Samoan artist Fatu Feu’u is called To’a Savili, which translates to “The One who calms the breeze.” Feu’u was here for the installation last week and said the piece came to Rarotonga through his relationship with the owners of Royale Takitumu, John and Rose Dunn.

Feu’u said, “I know both John and Rose as patrons of the arts scene in Auckland and they were very keen to bring this sculpture here to Rarotonga but we were a little reluctant to let it go to be honest, but I am very happy that they could bring it here and I am thrilled with how it has fitted in so nicely to their property.”

The piece which weighs almost 2 tons, is for all people of the Pacific to enjoy, Feu’u said. “It is inspired by Rapa Nui, with the big nose and big eyes but it is almost not specifically a Samoan sculpture but instead my idea was going back to the early Polynesian times.”

Feu’u has been a professional artist, and calls himself “the granddaddy of art in the Pacific”. “I hope that both locals and tourists who come and stay here, but also are coming past, come in and enjoy the piece. “I also hope that some of the local kids might be inspired by it, they might not necessarily become artists but we have many that are now ending up as art teachers and helping the next generation to develop their personal style and creativity.”

While the piece is already on-display to the public, Royal Takitumu are planning to have a special dedication ceremony early in the new year, with dignitaries and local artists to be invited alongside Feu’u.

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A motu- Rarotonga, Cook Islands

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Pacific Students Want to Form One Voice

Earlier this month journalist, Christine Rovoi, wrote an article for Radio New Zealand about how Pasifika students at Otago University in New Zealand have joined forces to form a collective voice and feel empowered to speak up.

The Pacific Islands Students Association’s new president, Mary-Jane Kivalu, said the group was formed not just to provide a Pacific voice in the academic context, but also in the Pasifika setting.

Ms Kivalu said it’s important that Pacific students feel empowered to speak up anywhere, any place and any time. She said the new association, which will begin its official year in 2019, is the pipeline to mobilize that voice for Pacific students. “Our society tends to be very hierarchical. So if you’re the younger, you tend to not have a voice in these settings. But in New Zealand, we need to empower that voice more because this is the future of our Pacific generations,” she said.

Ms Kivalu, who helped launch the university’s Tongan Alumni Network in the kingdom, said a recent trip there was a “eureka moment” because it helped her reconnect with her roots. “The trip made me realize how hard I was working for Pacific movements here and made me question why I wasn’t working for the same back in Tonga,” she said.

Ms Kivalu said there is a growing awareness in Tonga of science as a career pathway and many young people now “think outside the box” about what they want to do in the future. “Tongan parents usually make all the decisions for their children, and it can seem like we don’t have initiative but it’s just how we are brought up,” she said.

We have an empowered Pasifika generation coming through and current Pasifika ‘scarfies’ (nickname for Otago uni students) have made UOPISA (University of Otago Pacific Islands Students Association) happen which is great.”

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Protecting Cultural Property in Fiji

Let’s stay with news from the UNESCO Pacific Islands States…

A Training of Trainers (ToT) on the Integration of the Cultural Property Protection (CPP) and the Hague Convention took place in Suva, Fiji, from 12 to 14 November 2018. Organized jointly by UNESCO and the Department of Heritage and Arts, this ToT brought together some 50 senior officials at the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), the law enforcement agencies, the cultural institutions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Fiji.

On behalf of the UN and UNESCO, Mr Sanaka Samarashinha, the UN Resident Coordinator based in Suva, delivered an opening speech. Appreciating this important initiative, first of its kind in Pacific Island States, Mr Samarashinha reiterated the relevance of the Hague Convention and its Protocols in the current internal context and the commitment of the international community by referring to several UN Security Council resolutions in relation to the CPP and conflicts.

He underlined that the destruction of cultural heritage was not only a threat to cultural rights but also a tool for terrorism financing, and that the CPP was imperative for peace and security. He also highlighted the linkage of the CPP to the other global agenda related to Sustainable Development Goals, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Climate Change.

The Training began with the RFMF’s presentation on a review on its ongoing training program in the angle of the CPP.  Representing the UNESCO Chair for the CPP and Peace at New Castle University, Mr Nigel Jones shared his experiences and information related to existing training programs and learning materials on the CPP. UNESCO Military Manual was introduced to the Training participant. The representatives of the law enforcement agencies, ICRC Office in Suva. Blue Shield Pasifika (BSP) (Committee in preparation), and the cultural institutions in Fiji contributed their inputs to the Training discussions.

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On the second day, all the participants made a visit to the Fiji Museum to learn its CPP strategy and measures. The exhibition on Fiji and the UN Peace Keeping Operations prepared by the Fiji Museum in cooperation with the National Archives of Fiji was put on display at the Fiji Museum to coincide with the Training.

The ToT concluded in developing an action plan identifying priority actions, among others:

·    enhance information sharing and collaboration among various sectors to ensure CPP at peacetime and during armed conflicts based on the clear understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities,

·    include CPP in the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Defense and ensure full integration of CPP-related materials into the military training program,

·    extend the inventories of cultural properties and sites managed by the cultural institutions,

·    advocate for increased resources to ensure sustainable actions for CPP,

·    advance the national process towards ratification of the Hague Convention and its protocols through policy review and more capacity building.

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Protecting Intangible Cultural Heritage in Vanuatu

The UNESCO Office of the Pacific States recently reported on how field research is important for disaster needs assessment on the island of Ambae, Vanuatu, to better protect its Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

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The Ambae community, with a total population of 11,000, is the custodian of a wide range of Intangible Cultural Heritage such as custom dances, traditional farming and fishing practices, traditional food preparations, weaving, and “sand drawing.”

Since the eruption of the Manaro Voui Volcano on Ambae Island in September 2017, and the following the state of emergency declared by the Vanuatu Government in August 2018, the Ambae community members have evacuated on the neighboring islands. At the request of the Vanuatu Government, UNESCO launched a project “Disaster Needs Assessment of the ICH belonging to Ambae Community” with funding from the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund in October 2018.

Under the project, The Vanuatu Cultural Center organized a Training Workshop in Port Vila on 7 November 2018. The workshop brought together Ambae Fieldworkers and experts at the Further Arts Nesar Studio in Port Vila. The participants learned  the community-based ICH inventorying methodology and developed the guidelines and interview questionnaires for the field researches on Santo and Maewo Islands.

The field surveys took place from 12 to 18 November 2018 on Santo Island and from 19 to 26 November 2018 on Maewo Island. Thanks were given to the strong support of the National Disaster Management Office Operation Center, the Town Council, and the Chiefs. The team was able to collect stories of the Ambae community focusing on the impact on their traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, customs and protocols or ICH.

The field researchers shed light on several important challenges and issues facing the Ambae community. One of these issues included the vulnerability of the Ambae ICH that was perceived as a threat even before the disaster.

The field researchers also noted their key concerns over the protection of their livestock, mats and gardens as traditional wealth items that underpin the resilience and well-being of the community. The findings of the field researchers will provide the basis for developing the Ambae ICH safeguarding plans at a forthcoming consultation in Port Vila in early 2018.

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Ambae Island from lechaudrondevulcain.com

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