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Self-Love, Self-Worth, Self-Confidence – MSPPAU 2019

I have been following the Miss South Pacific Plus Australia (MSPPAU) Journey since it was founded by owner Victoria Mua-Tuilau, a Samoan entrepreneur based in Sydney, Australia. After a successful run in 2018, it was clear that 2019 was going to be a bigger and better yet. And I can attest to just that, because MSPPAU 2019 is not just a Pageant. It is a movement that empowers our Plus-Sized Polynesian Women.

I follow a lot of pageants because it is truly inspiring to watch a contestant’s journey as a Pageant participant. I keep up with Miss Samoa NZ, Miss Samoa, Miss Universe, Miss World etc. However, I felt that I was pulled towards MSPPAU more than any other Pageant – I admitted to the contestants of this year’s pageant that it is because by partaking in this, they have made a statement for all us plus-sized girls that “We are worthy!” Their statement sends a universal message to Plus-Sized Polynesian Women like myself. A powerful message encouraging us to embrace our curves and to flaunt them instead of shying away. We are and will always be real Polynesian women, regardless of the size we are.

71776216_2446091958997521_8055010343862140928_nContestant #1 Asena Naleba

This year, I was lucky enough to attend the Miss South Pacific Plus pageant hosted in Sydney, Australia. I was excited flying in from Auckland and the plan was originally to go in and cover social media work for the pageant as well as meet and interview the girls so that I can write up this blog piece. However, when I landed, I was asked by the founder and owner of MSPPAU to be a Judge on their Panel – Talk about mind-blowing!

71297404_2446842482255802_2573984805414764544_nContestant #2 Ofa Afu

I was still able to meet the contestants prior to the main event as this was arranged by Tori. I had the privilege of listening to each contestant speak about their own individual journey of self-love, self-worth and self-confidence. This same evening, I listened to the stories from each of the 4 girls, I was left moved emotionally, inspired, empowered and feeling honored to have these girls speak so vulnerably to a person they had met in real life just that same day. Continue reading “Self-Love, Self-Worth, Self-Confidence – MSPPAU 2019”

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Brown Boys Film Review

Brown Boys is a coming-of-age film based on the lives of six Samoan men set in South Auckland. It dives into concepts of brotherhood, maturity, life milestones and family. Some have classified it as this generation’s “Sione’s Wedding” and there are some scenes where ideas and concepts are familiar with ones seen in Sione’s Wedding but the take on these concepts are quite different.

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The group of men portrayed in the movie are seen drinking and partying on a frequent basis and the main character Peter who doesn’t look to settle down until he is faced with the possibility of losing his “main” girl. There are scenes that are obvious in not shying away from cringe and uncomfortable moments for the audience which are possibly done to show a true and raw depiction of the lives lived by brown boys. However, for me, I felt that such scenes can possibly play into the negative stereotypes of brown boys and the things they talk about or do when around “their boys”.

Personally, for me, Brown Boys was not my cup of tea. I did feel that the humour and easy insults in the film did take away from creating memorable moments in the film. There were some parts of the film I enjoyed more than other parts with the funniest Brown Boy being “Luka the Drunken Master” in my opinion. The music soundtrack for the film was amazing highlighting great Pacific NZ Music artists including Poetik and Swiss.

Overall, despite the film not being my cup of tea, I do want to point out that the movie in itself did succeed in providing an opportunity for an all Pacific-Island casting. It is always great as a Polynesian woman to witness our own People appear on the big movie screen and to know that many of the cast who acted in this film did so for the first time is an achievement in itself. Brown Boys has provided a platform for Pacific people in the film industry and it is something not to shy away from in terms of opportunities. Mainstream film industry needs more representation of brown people and I’m proud to be living in an era where our own people are not shy of taking these opportunities and bringing visions to life.

If you haven’t seen Brown Boys as of yet, do have an open mind when watching the film. For anyone who has watched Brown Boys, I’d like to know your thoughts – Post it in the comments below 🙂

(Rating: 6/10)

 

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Child’s Play (2019) Review

“Are you my best Bud-Bud-Bud-Buddi?”

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This 2019 Child’s Play film is a re-make of the 1988 horror classic Child’s Play directed by Tom Holland and produced by David Kirschner. This year’s version of Child’s Play is directed by Lars Klevberg and produced by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith (also producer of the horror film “IT”).

Unlike the 1988 horror, Chucky’s story about how he came to be isn’t connected to a voodoo curse which most of us, including myself would expect. The change in storyline of how Chucky came to be dives into the paranoia we have with modern-day technology and from the first few scenes of the movie, we immediately know it’s not going to end well.

“Chucky” is gifted to a kid named Andy as a birthday surprise from his mother. As he doesn’t have friends due to moving towns, Chucky becomes Andy’s first friend playing into the story of an only child and loneliness in the film. However, Andy’s yet to realise the horrific lengths Chucky will go to in order to stay as Andy’s best friend, including murder.

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Mark Hamill’s “Chucky” voice is one that is a little different to the 1988 version. In the movie, we see more of a sing-songy voice which plays into the ginger doll being a friendly one but when we see Chucky’s monster side, it is frightening more than ever.

Child’s Play was a good watch as it provided a different background story to what we’re used to when thinking of “Chucky”. I personally do not like horror movies and was surprised I sat through this one entirely! There were a few funny moments in the film but overall as a horror movie, I’d say it is worth watching.

(Rating: 8/10)

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NZ Bloggers April Brunch Club at Devon on the Wharf

NZ Bloggers’ April #BrunchClubNZ was hosted at Devon on the Wharf and I looked forward to this brunch after hearing good reviews about Devon. Angela from A Style Collector organised Brunch Club for this month and after reading her blog post, I was excited! Devon is a Turkish style cafe that brings both Mediterranean and Turkish Cuisine to visitors in Devonport and local areas.

Despite the gloomy weather in the morning, we managed to sit in their covered outdoor area enjoying the view of the wharf. Of course, this view would have been even better had the day been a sunny one. Shortly after being seated, the team at Devon treated us to platters including potato & cheese spring rolls, salmon hummus, turkish pide bread, and more turkish delights.

I enjoyed “The Eggs You Want” which I had scrambled on turkish pide bread alongside a mocha (pictured below) which is my go-to coffee in the morning if I’m not ordering a vanilla latte. It was good to see new faces at Brunch Club this month and I had great conversations with bloggers I hadn’t met before which is always a bonus.

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Other meals enjoyed on this day are as follows:

Turkish style platter explained by Devon’s Head Chef Pratik:

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French Toast ordered for Kendel (pictured below)

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Jordanian Lamb ordered for Laura (pictured below)

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It was a great first time experience at Devon on the Wharf and I’ll definitely be back, hopefully on a sunny day so I can enjoy the view just as much as I did their extraordinary cuisine!

– Island Girl Blogger

 

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No other people have had their history shaped so much by an ocean – Vai Film

“We sweat and cry salt water, so we know that the ocean is really in our blood” – words spoken by the late Teresia Teaiwa. Words that resonate with many Maori, Polynesians and Micronesians. Vai is film that portrays 8 different stories of 8 different women, each woman named “Vai” which in Maori, Pasifika and Micronesian languages translates into water. Vai (water) is the connection, the link between these 8 diverse wahine: Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumua, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Mīria George, ‘Ofa-ki Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Nicole Whippy & Marina Alofaiga McCartney and their diverse stories.

The film opens up with the story of a little girl, Vai of Fiji. Vai of Fiji, named after her grandmother is preparing for a move from her homeland Fiji to New Zealand. This first story highlights a reality many of us can resonate with as we too, have experienced our parents migrating to New Zealand for work or education purposes. As the film continues on, various stories are explained and each story different from another yet the themes very similar. These themes are viewed as realities for many of Maori, Polynesian and Micronesian descent.

The words spoken by Vai of New Zealand born Samoan “I know what I’m capable of but you just won’t listen to me… My family, my village have sacrificed so much for me to be here. And I’m not going to waste it” are words that hit home for me and I’m sure for others. Growing up as a New Zealand born Samoan, I too, could relate easily to the reality we face juggling family commitments, work to make ends meet and university studies. We’ve grown up to believe that education here is going to lead to us to a better path but in cases like Vai of New Zealand born Samoan, this was not the case. The harsh reality faced is that sometimes, the systems in place are not catered for us in that way.

As we see different stories of Vai, we are emerged into each various story and for any movie goer, the story that resonates with me may not be the same to the next person. However, every cinematic chapter links to each other with Vai being it’s connection highlighting that the power as a collective is not one to be underestimated. It is evident that there is underrepresentation of our brown wahine in many industries. Yet, Vai provides the perfect opportunity for watchers to dive into a female empowering film, written, produced and directed only by women.

I attended the Advanced Screening of Vai Film which meant I was among the very first in all of New Zealand to have seen the film. To be able to attend this film was a privilege and an honour to celebrate the various women with their stories on International Women’s Day (8th of March) for 2019. Throughout each cinematic chapter, I immersed myself into each story and was moved by the ending chapter of Wahine Toa, Vai of Aotearoa who is much older than Vai of Fiji. This final chapter shows love, new life and family that is full of life. It is important to know that family is a big theme that is recurring throughout each story explained which everyone who watches this film will be able to resonate with.

Vai Film is definitely one for the big screens – Vai opened the 2019 “Berlinale Goes Kiez” taking stories of our strong women all the way to Berlin. Vai Film then had it’s NZ Premiere at the Maoriland Film Festival on the 20th of March and then it’s Auckland Premiere at Hoyts Sylvia Park on March 3rd which catered to over 800 attendees. If you haven’t gone to see the film, I strongly recommend you do so while it’s still showing in Cinemas. It is time for the stories of our indigenous people to be told, for conversations to be sparked up and for more representation in various industries.

 

 

 

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One day, I know I’ll never be that me again..

In 2015, things were different and I was all over the place as an individual. My personal life was a train-wreck; I had parted ways with my ex and left a toxic relationship, my university studies were going downhill, I was changing jobs often, I was financially unstable and all I wanted to do was move countries and start on a fresh note. I didn’t move countries and looking back, I’m so thankful I didn’t.

2016 became another difficult year, I took a break from tertiary studies, found a new job but my personal life was still at an all time low. I had so many feelings and emotions bottled up of regret, pain, heartbreak, anger but I didn’t want to talk about it. I just left it bottled up and tried to move on – Not the best idea.

On the last day of 2016, as some of my family and I went out to see the Fireworks to celebrate New Years Eve, we spoke about our worst moment for 2016 and our best moment for 2016 and then something we want to work on for 2017. Mines were as follows:

  • Worst moment of 2016 was a fall-out between my siblings and I. This fall-out however, brought us back together and we are stronger now.
  • Best moment of 2016 was fully letting go of my ex. Knowing that we just were not meant for each other. I saw the signs and knew I was in a toxic relationship and it took me end of 2016 to finally let go.
  • My 2017 New Years resolution was to focus on myself. Self love and Self care was my main priority. I owed this to myself.

Fast forward 2 years later from 2017 and I have never been this happy and content with my life. A few weekends ago, I reflected on my own journey. Catching up with an old friend, I spoke about the hardships of 2015 & 2016 – Even though I love where I am in my life, I re-lived the pain and heartbreak from 2015 and 2016 when I spoke the stories again. I felt guilty. I felt that I shouldn’t be hurt over such things anymore. I felt like I was betraying myself from feeling hurt by these old memories again. I knew that I shouldn’t have felt these ways but I couldn’t help myself. I decided to take a break from socializing for a few days and just my luck, I got sick which meant I stayed home throughout the weekend except for when I went to Church. I’m sure my body was just as tired as my mind was that weekend.

As a Catholic, I enjoy attending church whenever I’m feeling low as it brings me peace and I feel at home. This is exactly how I felt while I was at Church Service on this very Sunday. Returning home, I lit up a candle I was gifted from a friend 2 years ago and set up my Lemon-Grass Diffuser gifted from another friend from my Melbourne Trip earlier this year. I had my Gospel music playlist on shuffle and I put my phone on air-plane mode to have no notifications come through while I sat in peace and wrote in my journal.

Feelings and emotions are naturally human, we feel them, we are sometimes consumed by them, we are human because of them. It is normal to still hurt from things or people that hurt you years ago. It is normal to want to cry about old memories. It is normal to let all these emotions out. It is okay to not be okay all the time – These were words I wrote in my journal for the next time I feel low & need to remind myself that I do not need to feel guilty about these emotions. I wrote an affirmation: “One day, I know I’ll never be that me again. And by me, I mean the 2015/2016 me that lost herself and had to re-build herself again” and this I know, will keep me going. Self-love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey that is never-ending and we must continue to embrace it. So today, choose to love yourself.

– Island Girl Blogger xo

First NZ Bloggers Brunch Club of 2019

Entering 2019, one thing I was super excited for was getting back into NZ Bloggers’ #BrunchClub – For me, I love NZ Bloggers because it introduced me to a whole community of bloggers. This is awesome especially when you’re just starting up as a blogger. From these brunch clubs, I’ve met lifetime friends and have made some great connections with other bloggers.

I still remember attending my first ever Brunch Club which was around this time last year. I knew nobody and just met the admins Lena from Lena Talks & Laura from Life with Laura that same day – It was out of my own comfort zone to go to an event alone but I put my big girl pants on and decided I needed to get to know other bloggers. It’s so important because when you’re starting up, it can feel lonely and it’s hard to stay focused and passionate when you know nobody else in the industry. However, thanks to NZ Bloggers and the regular Brunch Club they host, I now know so many in the same industry and it’s always a great time when we meet.

Our first Brunch Club for 2019 was hosted by Ozone Coffee Roastery located in Grey Lynn. I had the pleasure of attending the Auckland Opening for Ozone Coffee in February so I was stoked to hear March’s Brunch Club was to take place there. Image

Before I attend any Brunch Club, I like to have a look at a Cafe’s menu as I can be quite picky with food. However, I didn’t check out the menu for Ozone Coffee as I wanted to decide on the day. Not the best choice as I was on Keto so originally decided to go with the Omelette but I gave in the moment I read “Velda’s 3-cheese Italian pancake w poached egg, silver-beet, peach chutney & house creme fraiche” on the menu. I mean, who doesn’t love a good cheesy pancake?! I did not regret my decision as I thoroughly enjoyed my meal alongside a soy mocha.

Ozone Coffee is a beautiful cafe hidden in Westmoreland, Grey Lynn (perfect for foodies like myself who like to dine at hidden cafes). The open plan provides the perfect space for people to host events. The staff are extremely friendly and the cafe is dog-friendly also! Such a bonus right?!

It was a fantastic start to the year for NZ Bloggers – If you’re an Auckland Blogger, I’d love to see you at the next #BrunchClub

– Island Girl Blogger

Heads Held High Production 2018

“I hope that one day our people understand that South Auckland is a place full of raw talent and love… I hope that one day the media get it right about us… I hope that one day people who don’t live out South realise we aren’t just window washers and criminals… but a place of high achievers. Communities full of tradition and hope” – A statement made by one talented Calista Fa’amausili, aged 16, a young way-finder and warrior of Tangaroa College.

As a person from South Auckland myself, I am always baffled by the negative thoughts and stereotypes surrounding the place I consider and call ‘home’.

In June 2018, I watched a production called Heads Held High, presented by the Black Friars. Consisting of 9 South Auckland Schools, including 60 young warriors – War on the Streets of South Auckland was the theme of this moving production.

The production proved just how amazing the youth of South Auckland are and the talent showcased through Heads Held High was a testament to just how great South Auckland is. Despite the negative stereotypes and connotations revolving around South Auckland, Heads Held High touched on topics that were not only relevant to the youth of today, but some topics reached out to parents of our youth and their families too.

Addressing topics such as the acceptance of the LGBT community in our own neighbourhoods, the stereotypes among youth of South Auckland, stereotypes among Polynesian people and bullying in schools. The show was an eye opener for the reality that we, as people of colour still face prejudice, discrimination and racism even today. Despite living in the land of multicultural diversity, people of colour are still portrayed in a bad light, especially in the media.

People who have never stepped foot in the suburbs of South Auckland stereotype our youth as “window washers” or “good for nothing trouble makers”. The media dwells on the “statistics of South Auckland being the part of Auckland with the highest criminal rates”.

However, what is hardly ever portrayed is the good about South Auckland – Or if something good is portrayed, it’ll be a little something like “Auckland School praised by Will Smith for Fresh Prince of Bel Air dance routine“. Manurewa High School was the “Auckland” school that was praised by Hollywood celebrity Will Smith yet outlets forgot to mention the ‘South’ Auckland part? For people who call South Auckland “home” and who are sick of the negative connotations and stereotypes of our Home, not properly acknowledging South Auckland is a big deal.

South Auckland should be given praise and recognition it deserves when good things happen and not only be in the light of media when negative things occur. Let us be remembered just as much for the good we have in our suburbs and the talented youth that are brought up in South Auckland.

Heads Held High 2018 proved that our youth are warriors. These young warriors will fearlessly stand up for what they believe in and pave the way for other South Auckland youth to reach for the stars!