Who we are as Samoans is defined by our culture. O oe ole Samoa. O lau aganuu e iloa ai oe ile lalolagi atoa.
Samoan Language and the application of words
By Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr.
In years past, I've usually highlighted a "phrase of the day" or a daily proverb for Samoan Language Week, but this time I've decided to do a daily highlight on something that makes the Samoan language unique, quirky, or fascinating.
So today, let's talk about the "name taboo" custom known as "fa'asā" or "fa'ataputapu" - literally, "to make sacred/prohibited." in localities where the name of a chief or a deity happened to include the name for an ordinary noun, people would refrain from using the ordinary word, replacing it instead with a substitute word, in order to avoid disrespecting the chief/deity. Thus, when the Christians came around in the 1820s with their "thou shalt not" concerning using God's name in vain, it was nothing new at all to Samoans :)
This is seen in the district of Faleata where 'Ulu is a high chief title, and also the word for "breadfruit" - so Faleata people would refer to breadfruit as "fa'atau" instead of "'ulu."
In the Manu'a chiefdom, the family of the first Tuimanu'a was called Moa, which is also the word for "chicken" - so Manu'a people would refer to chickens as "manu" instead of "moa."
The freshwater eel known as "tuna" was also the name of a famous Mālietoa family hero, the warrior Tuna, so Mālietoa constituents referred to river eels as "i'avai" instead of "tuna."
In the district of Falelātai, there is a chiefly lineage called 'Anae, which is also the word for "mullet fish," so people in that region called mullet "aua" instead of "'anae."
The same for Si'umu village, where Tu'u'u is both a chiefly title and the name of the clownfish (like the orange fish from Finding Nemo), so they call it "pālepo" instead.
In Sātalo and Faleālili, where Talo was a chiefly name, people used "fuāuli" instead of "talo" when referring to taro roots.
In Neiafu and Sāle'aula villages had a chief named 'Aufa'i, which includes the word "fa'i" (bananas) so they used "mo'e" or "'aumo'e" instead of the ordinary word for bananas or banana bunches.
There are literally hundreds more "fa'asā" and "fa'ataputapu" words in the Samoan language thanks to our ancestors' incessant desire to sanctify words and parts of speech associated with chiefly names and deities :) #SamoanLanguageWeek #VaiasoOLeGaganaSamoa
Tala Anamua i le Mafua'aga o Samoa
O le tala faaanamua a Samoa e faapea, o Samoa lava ona pau lea o le lalolagi. Fai mai o le foafoaga na amata i le leai, ona sosoo ai lea ma le faasologa o nanamu efuefu, iloa, eleele, papatu, maataanoa ona maua ai lea o mauga.
E i ai le gafa e faapea na feusua’i mea o le lalolagi ma le vanimonimo na amata i le fefaaipoipoai o papa ona maua ai lea o le eleele ona sosoo ai lea ma feusuaiga i le vanimonimo. O le faaipoipoga a lagi aunoa ma lagi fofola na fanau mai ai Tagaloa, o ia lea na faia tagata.
Na tupuga mai Savea ia Leatiogie ma Tauaiupolu. O ia le uluai Malietoa, ona sosoo ai lea ma tupulaga e 20 o le auga Malietoa, seia tau mai ia Malietoa Tanumafili, na faauu e fai ma tupu i le 1899.
Na toe fai e Tagaloa le lagi, ona fai ai lea ma le lalolagi. Na fai Savaii ma Upolu i maa e lua na faataavavale mai i le lagi, ae fai mai foi le isi tala, na sisi a’e nei motu mai le moana i le matau fagota. Ona faia lea e Tagaloa o le fe’e, ma fai i ai e alu i lalo ifo o le lalolagi, o le mea lea ua ta’u ai lalo o le sami po o le laueleele o Salefee. O le fe’e lena na ia aumaia i luga ituaiga eseese o papa, ona maua ai lea o lenei papa tele ua tatou mau ai.
O lo o i ai faamatalaga eseese e fa pe sili atu foi i uiga i le mafuaaga o le igoa “Samoa”. E lua tala nei mai ia Turner: E toalua le fanau a Tagaloa, o le tama e igoa ia Moa ma le teine o Lu. na faaipoipo Lu ma le uso o Tagaloa, ona maua ai lea o le tama ua faaigoa ia Lu. O le tasi po a o taotooto Tagaloa o le a moe, na ia faalogo atu o pesepese le tama a lona fuafafine faapea: “Moa Lu, Moa Lu”, ona toe sui lea faapea: “Lu Moa, Lu Moa”. Ua mafaufau Tagaloa, ua fia tuu muamua e Lu o ia ia sili i luga o Moa le ulumatua, ona sasa ai lea e Tagaloa le tama i le au o lona fue. Ona sola ifo ai lea o Lu i le lalolagi, ua na faaigoa ai le lalolagi o Samoa.
O le tasi tala e faapea: O Papa na usu ia Eleele ona to ai lea o Eleele. Na vaavaai atu Salevao le atua o Papa o gaoioi a’e le “moa” o Eleele, ona fanau mai lea o le tamaitiiti ua faaigoa o Moa e faatatau i le mea na vaaia o gaoioi. Na faatonu e Salevao le uso (pute) o le tamaitiiti ia tuu i luga o le uatogi ae tipi i se maa, ma ua faia pea lava lena tu pe a fanau se tama tane (ina ia toa o ia i taua). Afai o se teine, ia faaaoga le i’e mo lea mea. O le i’e o le samala laau lea e sasa ai u’a ma siapo.
Ona avane lea e Salevao o le vai e fufulu ai le tamaitiiti. O lena vai ua ia faasa ai po o le “faapa’ia” ia Moa. Na tagi Papa ma Eleele ia Salevao ona o le fia maua o sina vai ina ua la lagona le fia inu. Ona fai mai lea o Salevao, afai la te maua ane ni ofe, o le a faatafe mai ai vai i pu o ofe (pei ni paipa). O le faatoa maua lena o vaipuna. Mulimuli ane ua faasa e Salevao mea uma e tutupu i le eleele, ia “sa ia Moa” po o le “paia ia Moa”, seia oo ina ua sele lona lauulu. Ua mavae nisi aso, ona sele ai lea o le lauulu o le tama, ma ua taga ai le “sa”, a o Papa ma Eleele na “sa ia Moa”, ua faapuupuu ma maua ai lo igoa “Samoa”.
O le tala faaanamua i le mafuaaga o Manu’a e faapea, o Manu’a na muai faia e Tagaloa Faatupunuu. Na ia avea Manu’a e fai mona afioaga i le lalolagi.
Na uma ona faia Manu’a e Tagaloa, ona ia faia lea o Savaii, ua i ai lona nofoaga i Samata. Ona sosoo ai lea ma lona faia o Fiti ma Toga, ae mulimuli ona fai o Upolu ma Tutuila. O motu ia e lua na fai i maa laiti ma iliili e fai ma tulaga o Tagaloa pe a alu i Savaii.
E faapenei le tala faaanamua a Manu’a, fai mai o Manua lava le amataga o mea uma, ma o Tuimanu’a o le suli moni o Tagaloa. O le isi tala e ta’u ai Moa o le atalii ulumatua o Tagaloa, ma ua avea ai Moa ma igoa faale aiga o Tuimanu’a.
O le tasi o Tuimanu’a anamua o Fitiaumua, o ia lea na iloga lona mamalu, e le gata ina sa pule o ia i Samoa atoa, ae sa oo atu foi i Toga, Fiti, RArotoga ma Tahiti. O na nuu uma sa auina mai pea ia te ia a latou taulaga (umiti) i tausaga taitasi, o i’a ma isi mea taumafa. Na uma lena pule po o le tausaga e 900 ina ua faamaopoopo le malo i Upolu e Pili ma ona atalii e toa’fa, o Tua, Ana, Tuamasaga ma Tolufale.
Mulimuli ane i nisi tausaga, ua tu le malo i Savaii ona o Alali, o le isi foi lea suli o Pili. O le fanau a le atalii o Alali e i ai Fune, ma Lafai. E oo mai i aso nei e faaaoga pea e failauga le igoa “Sa Lafai” e fai ma faalupega o Savaii atoa. Ao Fune na pogai mai ai fale Safune e fa (Falefa o Safune): O Safune i Taoa, Safune Vaiafai (Iva), Safune Vaisala (tuaoi ma Asau) ma Safune Sili (e lata i Tufu Gautavai). O fale Safune na e fa e i ai le pule atoa i le filifiliga ma le alagaina o le ao o le Tagaloa. O Lafai le uso o Fune, na avea ma tupuga o Salemuliaga, ma le Tonumaipe’a. O Tagaloa, Tonumaipe’a ma Lilomaiava (e filifili ma alaga e Palauli ma Safotu), o ao pito maualuluga ia o Savaii. E oo mai i le tausaga e 1830 sa taua le itu i Matu o Savaii o le “Itu Taoa”, a o le itu i Saute o le “Itu Aea”. Ao lenei ua tau o le ITUOTANE ma le ITUOFAFINE.
Safata Chiefs are petitioning Parliament to reconsider a proposed law to reconfigure the Electoral boundaries in accordance to traditional protocols.
By Maiava Visekota Peteru, Photos from Tuia i Togamau
A Press release from the Matais (chiefs) of Safata of their petition as was presented to Parliament. This is the text of the press release:
This morning, Tuesday 17th March 2015, members of the “falefa o le ulugatanifa” Afioga Anapu Aialii, Afemata Aiavao Apelu, Tuia Pu’a Letoa and Afemata Mafu Afemata, supported by matai and electors of Safata, presented a submission to the Speaker of the House and the Hon. Prime Minister regarding the division of the territorial constituency of Safata.
The submission opposes a recommended division on the basis of “Sa Tunumafono” and “Alataua” and calls on Government to reconsider the division of the Safata territorial electoral constituency on the traditional basis of “Togamau ma ona tua” and “Siulepa ma ona tua”.
“Togamau ma ona tua” encompasses the villages of Niusuatia, Vaie’e, Fusi, Fausaga, Tafitoala Mulivai.
“Siulepa ma ona tua” consists of the villages of Sa’anapu, Sataoa and Lotofaga.
The proposed division contained in the bill before Parliament is contradictory, given that Sa Tunumafono encompasses the whole district of Safata, while the “Alataua” refers to a grouping of orators who are from the villages of Fusi, Fausaga, Tafitoala and Mulivai. It does not refer to the tamalii of these villages.
The submission to Parliament basically asks the question: “Why Safata?” This is a relevant question given that the boundaries most other Territorial electoral constituencies, except Safata, have been determined on the basis of tradition, custom and usage.
It is a glaring oversight to divide Safata on a basis that contradicts the tradition and custom of the district.
On the basis of the proposed amendment, “Sa Tunumafono” electors would number approximately 2,930 while “Alataua” totals 1,335 votes. Sa Tunumafono electors would exceed the Alataua by 1,595, based on the 2011 electoral roll.
Based on the traditional boundary of Safata as “Togamau ma ona tua”, total electors would amount to 2,010 and “Siulepa ma ona tua” approximately 2,255 electors. The difference between these districts is only 245 electors.
The submission claims that the correct division of Safata as Togamau ma ona tua and Siulepa ma ona tua, not only meets the correct tradition and custom, but is also more equitable in terms of numbers of electors.
The submission seeks a response from Parliament to the question “Why Safata?” Why is Safata district being treated differently from other constituencies that have been allowed by Parliament to retain their traditional boundaries, despite a minimal numbers of electors and other factors.
More pictures below
Division of Tamalii ma Faleupolu o Safata
AIGA “SA TUNUMAFONO” refers to suafa tamalii of all villages in Safata
Saanapu, Sataoa, Lotofaga, Niusuatia, Vaiee, Fusi, Fausaga, Tafitoala, Mulivai
“IGOA MATUA MA LE NOFO A TULA IA SAFATA”
(Orators of Saanapu to Vaie’e)
(Orators of Fusi to Mulivai)
Division proposed by ‘Falefa ole Ulugatanifa ma le Itumalo”
SIULEPA ma ona tua : Saanapu, Sataoa Lotofaga
TOGAMAU ma ona tua: Niusuatia, Vaie’e, Fusi, Fausaga, Tafitoala, Mulivai
Division proposed by Bill
Saanapu, Sataoa, Lotofaga, Niusuatia, Vaiee
Fusi, Fausaga, Tafitoala, Mulivai,
Please refer questions to: Tuia P Letoa 758 1119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Quite frankly, we Polynesians are all Samoans because that’s where we all started from thousands of years ago,” Kalepa Baybayan, captain of Hokule’a told Pacific Guardians.
“The genesis, the seed from there [Samoa] spread throughout all of Polynesia.”
Hokule’a of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) is in Wellington as part of its three-year Mālama Honua “caring for Our Island Earth” mission aimed to raise global awareness on the plight of the earth’s oceans.
In an exclusive interview, Captain Baybayan highlighted the special place Samoa holds in one of the greatest achievements by the human race: the exploration and settlement of Eastern Polynesia, a 10million square mile area – the largest in the world – which started around 800BC and lasted for a thousand years. The last place to be settled by Polynesians was New Zealand estimated at around 1300AD.
Three Samoan men in antiquity, photo taken by an unidentified photographer in Samoa. Date unknown.
“You know, all those hundreds, thousands of years ago, some smart Samoan figured out how to make and navigate canoes,” said captain Baybayan.
A Samoan not only had the ingenuity to build an ocean going canoe, but an abundance of courage to jump into the canoe and set sail with no navigation instruments. All he had was an audacious amount of self-belief that his observations of the ocean and sky, and knowledge of the patterns of nature will be enough to navigate him to new lands that he believed had to be out there.
Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese, Samoa’s Head of State with crew members of Hokule’a in Samoa.
“For me, it is that unknown first Navigator who left Samoa that we need to honour and recognize as being the father, being that spark that settled Polynesia.”
Captain Baybayan is not alone in his “We are Samoa” statement.
Scientific proof abounds as well as in the unlikeliest of places such as the New Zealand parliament’s hansard.
On 26th of July 1927 member of parliament, Sir Maui Pomare made a speech to New Zealand’s parliament that included the statement: “Ethnologically and genealogically the Maoris and the Samoans are one people.
“The Maoris can trace themselves right back to Samoans. That is not doubted.”
In 2011, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa anthropologist Terry Hunt reported, “Polynesian ancestors settled in Samoa around 800 BC, colonized the central Society Islands between AD 1025 and 1120 and dispersed to New Zealand, Hawaiʻi and Rapa Nui and other locations between AD 1190 and 1290.”
While the voyages of Hokule‘a that started in 1976 with its inaugural 2,000 mile sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti, together with computer-simulated voyages have shown that Polynesians could have sailed in traditional canoes all the north-south and east-west routes among their islands.
With these proof what must be constantly acknowledged is the genius and contribution of Polynesians to humanity was more that the development of seafaring and navigation skills and canoe technology.
That Polynesians with their expertise in fishing and farming, were also able to develop healthy, stable communities on islands with limited resources.
It highlights that Polynesian societies were able to find a balance between human needs, governance and limited resources. That their collective way of living where extended families worked the land and sea; those near the coast supplied the products of the sea to those living inland, who in turn supplied land products.
As part of the communal system, everyone worked together and received a share of the produce. Stinginess and hoarding was criticized, as was laziness, freeloading, and greed. While hospitality to guests (persons from outside of the community) was a strong tradition that maintained harmony amongst different villages.
For captain Kalepo Baybayan, and Polynesian Voyaging Society colleagues they have sailed the world’s oceans for over 40 years using their Polynesian ancestors’ navigation techniques to pay tribute to their achievement. But along the way, they have sparked a Polynesian cultural reawakening and a way to rediscover Polynesians voyaging heritage.
September 2014 was the highly anticipated Samoa stopover for Hokule’a’s Mālama Honua mission.
As they neared Samoa, captain Baybayan said there was a unique spiritual feeling for its crew.
“It felt like you were looking down the pathway of our ancestors. That we were looking into the beginning of where we came from. And with each stop we were getting closer and closer to the place of genesis of our Polynesian culture, so there was a feeling of anticipation and excitement,” captain Baybayan reminisced.
“When we got there, it was exhilarating. It was like stepping back in time.
“When your feet touched Samoa’s soil it was like being in a time warp and you’re standing there at the place where our first ancestor launched his canoe. The place where Polynesian culture really took genesis.
“We really wanted to honour that piece of history and thank them.”
During their stay the crew experienced first-hand Samoa’s culture and immersed themselves in its environment and ambience.
They weren’t disappointed.
“I just think,” captain Baybayan reflected, gathering his throughts. “It’s very cultural, they still hang onto their customs, their language, their songs, their dance and I suspect that hasn’t changed since time’s beginning.
“The Samoan people are very friendly, hospitable, kind and generous.”
But the person that made the most telling impression on captain Baybayan and its crew was Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Samoa’s Head of State.
“He is a very articulate, contemplative person, very very smart,” he said.
“I really appreciated the words he shared with us. I’m hoping to read his writings some day. He’s got deep insights into world issues of today but also in the lore of Samoa’s traditions and past.
“He is a man that walks very comfortably in both worlds. He does it admirably and with grace and dignity.”
TUI ATUA INSIGHTS
As captain Baybayan mused for more insights into Tui Atua’s way of thinking, below is a compilation from a newspaper article on the Head of State (publishing author unknown)
“I always try and bear in mind that I am representing more than myself. I’m representing also the knowledge, the values and the visions of my forebears and my teachers.
“Wherever I’d been in my life, whether it’s politics, family, church, academia, I always come from the same reference…when I write something, I read it after I’ve written it, I always ask myself…Does this reflect the culture, the language, the idiosyncrasy, the idiom, the uniqueness of what we are as a people and as a nation?”
Singing and the chanting was part of everyday life. One of the great rules in Samoan articulation, in both speaking and singing, is that words must have fluency in both thought (i.e. meaning) and intonation (i.e. rhythm and melody).
In Samoan language and traditions everything is oratory. It is rich in the Samoan context and loaded with meaning.
“Every language grows and sometimes it grows for the better and sometimes for the worse,” he says. “As somebody who loves language, I not only love the poetry, the imagery but also the music.
“This is what we’re missing today because a lot of our appreciation is through eye discernment. It’s no longer an intellectual exercise, the spiritual exercise. It’s almost exclusively eye discernment – how it impresses the eye. This was never meant to be.
“And our culture of language, and our culture of rituals – it’s supposed to reflect our history, our theology, our philosophy.
“Sometimes, the rituals and the language are supposed to reflect meaning not only in the words themselves but also in the intonation and sometimes in the pauses they’re making, this is what we’re missing.”
In our Polynesian songs, chants, oratory or everyday conversation, words are not just used for mere convenience of communication; they are used to also create atmosphere, drama and poetry – that deliberate creation of sounds to excite and give colour, flavour and spice to the process of making meaning. Other languages such as Maori, the English, Italians and any other people seeking to find meaning in the complex pageantries of our human lives.
“You will find God if you probe in our rituals, in our poetry, in our wisdom, and that makes us the people that we are.
“Who are we? We are a people with a history, with a poetry; with an imagery, with rituals that are rich with metaphor, with nuances. And this goes to make the fibre, the colour, the essence of who we are.”
If you lose your language, you lose your sense of being, you have to find your inspiration, your guidance, your bearings, your vision, your values on something that is not Samoan.
“That is a worry because well, we take our reference from the Bible a lot. And what is the Bible in essence? It’s the story of a people. How do you draw inspiration, guidance and direction? How do you get a vision of God, his goodness, his love? Through the stories.
“And that’s what sustains them as a people, against the odds.”
NAVIGATING WITHOUT INSTRUMENTS
By Dennis Kawaharada [in Mālamalama / The Light of Knowledge: The Magazine of the University of Hawai’i, in April 21, 2011]
One of these sailing masters named Puhoro came to Lima in a frigate; and from him and others I was able to find out the method by which they navigate on the high seas.”
They have no mariner’s compass, but divide the horizon into sixteen parts, taking for the cardinal points those at which the sun rises and sets.
When setting out from port the helmsman partitions the horizon, counting from E, or the point where the sun rises; he knows the direction in which his destination bears. He observes, also, whether he has the wind aft, or on one or the other beam, or on the quarter, or is close-hauled. He notes, further, whether there is a following sea, a head sea, a beam sea, or if the sea is on the bow or the quarter. He proceeds out of port with a knowledge of these [conditions], heads his vessel according to his calculation, and aided by the signs the sea and wind afford him, does his best to keep steadily on his course.
The task becomes more difficult if the day is cloudy, because the sailing-master has no mark to count from for dividing the horizon.
Should the night be cloudy as well, the sailing-master regulates his course by the wind and swells; and, since the wind is apt to vary in direction more than the swell does, he has his pennant, made of feathers and palmetto bark, by which to watch changes in the wind, and he trims his sails accordingly, always taking his cue for holding his course from the indications the sea affords.
When the night is clear, he steers by the stars; and this is the easiest navigation for him because he knows the stars which rise and set over not only the islands he is familiar with, but also the harbours in the islands, so that he makes straight for the entrance by following the rhumb of the particular star that rises or sets over it. These sailing masters hit their destinations with as much precision as the most expert navigators of civilized nations could achieve (Corney, Vol. II, 284-6).
To keep track of their position at sea during long sea voyages, the navigators used a system of dead reckoning – memorizing the distance and direction traveled until the destination was reached. Finding islands before they could actually be seen was also part of the art of navigation. Voyagers followed the flight of land-dwelling birds that fished at sea as these birds flew from the direction of islands in the morning or returned in the evenings. The navigators also watched for changes in swell patterns, cloud piled up over land, reflections on clouds from lagoons, and drifting land vegetation.
Samoan barkcloth has it covered. The Tapa Cloth.
THE 20th Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow from tomorrow, Wednesday July 23 to August 3.
Over the course of 11 days 6,500 athletes from across the world will compete against each other in 17 different sports.
The Commonwealth spans Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and includes 53 of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.
Samoa is one of these 53 a group of nine islands in the Pacific Ocean, five of which are uninhabited.
The islands are formed from volcanic rock and are home to a variety of species of birds, bats and lizards. Coral reefs surround much of the coastline and dense tropical woodland and forest cover over 60 per cent of the land.
This piece of barkcloth from our world cultures collection was made in Samoa. Barkcloth is produced by collecting the fibres from the inner bark of a tree, in this case the paper mulberry tree.
The fibres are soaked and beaten so they felt or ‘glue’ together. Once the cloth has dried it can be decorated using stencilling, stamps or brushes.
This particular cloth has been decorated with a technique known in Samoa as ‘siapo mamanu’. This was a popular style of freehand decoration in the late 1800s and 1920s.
Samoans use barkcloth for things such as clothing, bed covers, tablecloths and room dividers. As well as having a functional purpose it’s also an important item in formal exchanges and presentations, particularly those that mark rites of passage such as births, deaths and marriages.
Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Samoan-barkcloth-covered/story-21666884-detail/story.html#ixzz387bKBPsf
Exhibition on legacy of New Zealand's invasion of Samoa during World War I opens in Auckland
New Zealand's first act of the First World War, the taking of Samoa from the Germans in 1914, and the legacy of this, has been commemorated at the Auckland War Museum.
The exhibition 'Entangled Islands' chronicles the relationship between New Zealand and Samoa, the bad and better times, and how it's changed both countries.
Leilani Momoisea reports:
The consultant historian for the exhibition, Auckland University's Damon Salesa, says the exhibition tries to honour one of the most powerful living legacies in the country - the tie between New Zealand and Samoa, which began as New Zealand's first act in the war. Damon Salesa says when New Zealand invaded Samoa, and spent the next 50 years governing it, often not very well, it led to an enduring link between the two peoples - with Auckland becoming the largest Samoan city in the world.
DAMON SALESA: It's hard to imagine what Auckland would be like, if we hadn't forged that relationship with Samoa. There are 120 thousand, over 120 thousand Samoans in Auckland, over 200 thousand Samoans in New Zealand, Samoan is probably the second most spoken language in New Zealand, so obviously a very profound effect on the way we live.
The Associate curator of history at the museum, Gail Romano, says it's been interesting to learn how little of the Samoan story New Zealanders are aware of.
GAIL ROMANO: The driver for New Zealand going up there at the time was a technology story. So it was about this wireless station that Germany had put on up by Apia and it was very very powerful, we were aware of that, Britain was aware of that, and so it was key to remove that technology.
Damon Salesa says stories he grew up with, the Mau Movment and the influenza epidemic, feature in the exhibition.
DAMON SALESA: And the influenza epidemic, which comes as a result of the war, kills about one in five Samoans, so rapidly, in just a few weeks, if we imagine that one out of every five people we know is dead, really transforms Samoans. And that's really what breaks down the relationship between New Zealand and Samoa, is that belief that New Zealand's ineptness had led to that, and that they didn't seem to care.
The exhibition features recorded stories from 103 year old Mele Ioelu, who tells what life was like under colonial rule. Her daughter, Afioga Sadiq, was with her at the exhibition, and says she'd never heard the stories in detail before, until her Mother spoke about them for the exhibition. She says her mother memories include running and hiding in church when sirens would warn of soldiers coming, and digging holes in the ground to hide from soldiers.
AFIOGA SADIQ: She remembered, there were more people dying and they didn't have enough peopel to dig graves. She remembers seeing people walking around like they were drunk and suddenly, somebody will collapse and they had this great big one hole in the ground and they were just throwing bodies in there.
She says it's great to take her children and grandchildren to the exhibition so they can learn about their roots, and it's also brought a lot of her memories to life.
AFIOGA SADIQ: We've learnt a lot, I mean I've even heard a weapon with a name, but I never knew what it looked like until I came to the museum today. Some times it's nice to hear stories, and also to have proof, photos and things to actually see what they really are like.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum says the exhibition is not just for Samoans, and is a profound part of history for all New Zealanders.
"SIAPO" a Cultural treasure we cannot afford to lose.
By Suluama Teresa Patu Laumea-Vivolo
The Samoan cloth or Siapo is beginning to disappear from our Cultural experience because creating it is very labor intensive, Is it so "Important" though to our traditional fabric that we as Polynesians including other Islands in the South Pacific like Tonga & Fiji Islands, should hang on to it?
Siapo is the Samoan word for a fine cloth made from the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree. In Fiji, this linen-like bark cloth is called Masi, in Tonga it's Ngatu. Wherever it's made in the Pacific, Siapo is regarded as one of the region's finest and most distinctive art forms.
Siapo, is one of the oldest Samoan cultural art forms. For centuries Siapo designs were passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, it is becoming a lost art. Siapo is not only a decorative art, it is a symbol of Samoan culture. It is used for clothing, burial shrouds, bed covers, ceremonial garments, and much more. Siapo is very important for cultural ceremony, especially weddings and funerals where it is used to wrap the dead body before being put in the grave. That's a very special dignity for one who dies in the islands and was what was used before coffins became more popular.
Samoans are known as expert Siapo-makers. From back in the days while I was growing up on the west coast of Savai'i & Upolu Island I remember seeing many creative Siapo makers who were women painting their designs using the boards or Upeti.
On a day-to-day basis in Samoa, Siapo is used for decorations, bedding and room dividers, but traditionally, it was a common form of clothing. This tradition is still honored at cultural and ceremonial events, where high chiefs and 'village maidens' (local, unmarried girls) wear Siapo during gift presentations, & in modern days I see Miss Samoa & Miss South Pacific competitions have this fine bark cloth incorporated into the style portion of the contest as in it's Traditional Evening Wear Competition. Siapo is often given as a gift at weddings and funerals where it is used to wrap the deceased at funerals and to dress the bridal bed of a high chief's daughter.
Keeping the art form alive in Samoa are many Siapo-makers, who all earn extra income by selling their Siapo through hotels and small shops, and demonstrating the craft to tourists who find it fascinating to experience the unique talents of our local Samoan siapo makers. Turning bark into fine cloth is a traditional skill that our Siapo Elei or Siapo Mamanu illustrates and have been demonstrated in many videos or photographs.
Turning a small, rough strip of bark into a piece of fine cloth is a painstaking process. Tapa is made in many islands. Although the islands are scattered across the Pacific, the basic steps in tapa making are the same everywhere. Here, Toto'a Fagai from Vaito'omuli village in Samoa is making siapo (Samoan tapa).
1. First, the Designer or Maker cuts down a paper mulberry tree from a small patch next to the family's fale. He/She separates the bark from the trunk and peels the white inner-bark away from the brown outer-bark.Toto'a bites around the bark of an u'a (paper mulberry) sapling to free the bark for stripping.
© Te Papa
2. After separating the inner and outer bark, she flattens the inner bark.
© Te Papa
3. She cleans the inner bark with a shell scraper, using a sloping board for support. The inner-bark (known at this raw stage as tapa) is soaked and softened in water. When it's become slightly pulpy, the maker lays it on a traditional wooden anvil and uses six different types of shell to scrape the water out.
© Te Papa
4. With an i'e (tapa beater), she beats the bast (narrow strip of scaped inner bark). Then begins the long, slow process of thinning and widening the material. Designer taps the bark with a traditional Samoan mallet, working from the center to the edges, spreading it a few millimeters at a time. Slowly, the small strip becomes a papery cloth. The maker keeps hammering until he/she has a silky fabric, big enough to wrap around an adult. After leaving the material to dry for a couple of hours
© Te Papa
5. Eventually, the bast becomes a wide piece of fine cloth.
© Te Papa
6. Toto'a carefully patches any holes in the cloth. the maker presses it onto a carved woodblock that has been smeared with a Samoan glue, made from arrowroot.
© Te Papa
7. She uses an 'upeti (rubbing board) to reproduce a design on the cloth. With the cloth stretched over the woodblock, the designer/maker scrapes a lump of red clay over it, before rubbing it with a wet pad. As the sprinkled clay dissolves, the cloth turns a water-color red, and takes on the pattern of the woodblock beneath.
Etched into the woodblock are impressions of Samoa's natural world: birds, sea shells, flowers, leaves, bats, fish.The clay the designer/maker uses to dye Siapo is collected from the top of a nearby mountain. Sometimes it will have been left to 'age' for ten years, before it's ready. There are four traditional colors used in Samoan Siapo making - brown, dark brown, red and black. They are all made from natural ingredients, such as clay, sap, seeds and bark.
© Te Papa
8. The finished siapo is laid out to dry. This day-long process is completed after maker hand-paints certain elements of the design.
When special events call for the creation of very large Siapo, a group of as many as 30 helpers (usually all women) work together on sheets that may be many meters long.
© Te Papa
I pray & hope this Unique Measina for our Tradition handmade crafts retains it's Important & value for many generations to come. Fa'afetai ma le Fa'aaloalo ma le Ava e tatau ai. Soifua.
The government in Samoa has made moves to protect and preserve the Samoan language for future generations.
The government in Samoa has made moves to protect and preserve the Samoan language for future generations.
Last week, the government passed a law to declare Samoan the country's official language, as well as to set up the Samoan Language Commission.
Reporter Leilani Momoisea looked at how Samoan is used in schools, and what it might mean for Samoans living abroad:
Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says English has begun to dominate in the country. He says the government decided it was time to step in with the creation of the Samoan Language Commission to ensure the survival of the mother tongue.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: From the education side of the issue, to find out how come the students in Samoa are [getting] very low marks in Samoan language. So they see there is a must now for the Samoan language, not only to be a surviving language, but also to be taught to the students and the children to speak the language.
The principal of Samoa College, Reupena Rimoni, says in school, English remains the main form of communication.
He says at Samoa College students are given the option of taking up Samoan as a subject, but not all students do.
Mr Rimoni says it is not compulsory, and the school leaves it up to parents to decide whether their children take up Samoan as a subject.
REUPENA RIMONI: Some of the parents feel that most of the subjects are done in English, I think that's the main focus, because even for further studies, that's in English. As they move up to higher levels, it's all in English and I think that could be one area where parents are hesitant to have students taking Samoan, although we do encourage them, but I think the final say would be the parents.
However, Mr Rimoni says bilingual teaching is encouraged.
REUPENA RIMONI: Because although we teach them in English, there are areas where kids to explain things, we have to go back to their Samoan language to get them to understand, it is enforced during schools to use bilingual teaching.
An early childhood Samoan immersion centre in New Zealand says the Samoan government's move will have a positive effect on Samoan families living abroad. The manager of A'oga Fa'a Samoa early childhood centre in Auckland, Jan Taouma, says Samoa making Samoan the official language reinforces to families living abroad that their language is significant, and valuable.
JAN TAOUMA: Because of the colonisation of Samoa and the different regimes that have been there, English has been held up as more important often, especially you notice in sign-posts and different things when you go to Samoan, whereas now, I feel families coming over will know that their language is really important and it needs to be preserved and hopefully they will use it more at home and encourage the children to continue using it.
Jan Taouma says she hopes this also will encourage the New Zealand government to make resources available in Samoan for children here, which could then also be shared with children in Samoa.
How cannibalism ended in Samoa and How the villages of Aua and fagatogo received their titles of Lutu and Unutoa.
By Hannah Wright
The village of Aua in American Samoa is well known for its ceremonial field or malae, Malaeopaepaeulupoo (Field of stacked skulls). Between the late 13th century to early 14th century, the cannibal chief Tuifeai, also known as Tuisamoa, the son of Tuifiti, lived in Malaeloa, which is adjacent to the village and ancient capital of American Samoa. The Tuifeai required sacrifices of humans as his meal everyday, this tradition is called "aso" or the king's day. Upon receiving his daily meal Tuifeai would take the skulls with him to the village of Aua, his refuge and stronghold from his enemy's. Thus, he ruled Tutuila as part of the reigning Paramount Chiefs. While Malietoa, Tuiaana and Tuiatua reigned in Upolu and Savaii, and Tuimanu'a in Manu'a, Tuifeai or Tuisamoa ruled in Tutuila (Tuisamoa is the title Malietoa gave him after he was born, from the union of the Tuifiti with Malietoa's sister). While in Aua Tuifeai would dress his ceremonial grounds in front of his "great house" with the skulls from his "aso", as a boundary or border, intimidating anyone who dared to come against him. The skulls acted as a wall or stacked border, signifying a "sa", or sacred grounds, and indicated where no one was to approach.
When cannibalism was abolishd by Malietoafaiga, after receiving his own son, Poluleuligana, as his "aso." The young prince was kept alive as he volunteered to be the aso after having compassion on two young men from Savaii who were headed to the Malietoa's village of Malie to be the main course for the king's day. Malietoafaiga, in 1323ad ordered cannibalism abolished. Tuifeai did not heed the Malietoa's order as it was his chiefly right in holding to tradition. So Lutu and Solosolo of Lufilufi, in the District of Atua and ruled by the Tuiatua, whose district Tutuila comes under, volunteered to sail to Malaeloa and slay Tuifeai, upholding Malietoa's decree to end cannibalism.
Upon arriving in Leone, they trekked towards Taputimu through Vailoa. In Vailoa they found some of Tuifeai's warriors and a battle enraged. After slaying almost all of Tuifeai's troops, some having run off, they left one alive to report back to Tuifeai that they were here to have him "taoiseumu" (cooked in an umu). They then proceeded to Leala, in Taputimu, and chopped down the "tautu" tree where Tuifeai had his leftover victims hung. The salty seabreeze and sun made jerky out of his leftover humans. Tuifeai fled up the mountains through Aasu (Aloau was down on the north shore then), and headed towards Aua. When Lutu and Solosolo were told, they sailed from Leone towards Aua. Upon entering the Malaeopaepaeulupoo, they prepared an umu, with anticipation of Tuifeai being cooked in it when he shows up. Instead of using a "sasa'e" and "ieofi" for spreading and handling the hot rocks of the umu, they used their feet and bare hands. Remember that Tuifeai was a descendant of the Tuifiti (Fijian), who were well known as "fire walkers," walking barefoot on hot rocks during their ancient ritual dances, showing their bravery. Lutu and Solosolo were trying to show Tuifeai that they too were not afraid of fire. Word quickly spread of the "umu a toa" (umu of warriors).
Tuifeai never came back down from the mountain village route. Thus that district became known as "Aitulagi" (ghost in the sky). The two warriors patrolled the Fagaloa in their war outrigger "soatau" in case Tuifeai decided to come back down. After a while, they decided that Lutu will stay in Fagatogo, whom the Fagatogans requested for, in order to guard them against Tuifeai, and for Solosolo to stay in Aua. They ripped the sail on their outrigger in two to seal their covenant. The sealing of the covenant became known as "le launiu na saelua" (the coconut frond ripped in two), and it was historical in that it changed the course of Samoan history; the warriors will not be sailing back home to Lufilufi (their sail being purposely ripped in two) and cannibalism will forever be abolished in Tutuila, their presence remaining. Solosolo was bestowed the Paramount Chief title of Unutoa (Unu being to reform or extract the human element out of the "aso") and toa being warrior), or the reformation warrior. Lutu retained the name Lutu in Fagatogo. Solosolo's kava-cup name in Lufilufi, when ever he decides to visit, is Moetoto (slept bloody). All dates and names are found in Dr. A Kramer's "The Samoan Island" as well as many other Samoan historical documents and archeological findings.
The legend says, that a long time ago, there was a fierce war between the villages of Tutuila (the main Island of American Samoa). In a successful surprise attack, the warriors of Aua killed the Fagatogo warriors and severed their heads as a sort of religious ritual. The severed heads were buried, scattered across the village malae. To this day a skull may be found when digging for a grave or a foundation for a house around the village of Aua. The name Paepaeulupoo is also the name of the village fautasi (longboat). Paepaeulupo'o and Paepaeala are the names of the two village malaes.
Santa Claus is from Upolu, not the North pole.
The people in Hawaii were treated to a sight when the Santa Claus they had called for turned up in a lavalava and Traditional Samoan Tattoo. Lilomaiava Fono Mataafa had his 15 seconds fame as a celebrity, not as an NFL player but as a Samoan Santa. Needless to say there were alot of laughs and chuckles as the Polynesian version of this Christmas Icon arrived not in his sleigh pulled by Rudolph and the other reindeers, but walking through the parking lot without a shirt and waiving a shaka sign. Thats island kine Santa as they say in Hawaii. You can imagine that Santa arrived in Hawaii and decided to get rid of his beard, heavy furry jacket, pants and boots in favor of a more warmer fashion style that was more local. He probably stashed the cold equipment under the Volcano with Pele, another Samoan entity with major influence in Hawaii, until he was ready to head out to cold Europe or Canada. From Santa and Mrs Santa, Vonnie Fereti Mataafa, they wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. From Havaii nei – Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou.
The investiture of Samoan High CHief Title, Faiivae in Leone, American samoa is a major success.
Muniao (la’au fa’alava) is a transverse piece of wood placed across the net to keep it properly stretched.
Fetu’uana’I muniao. To push the cross-piece back and forth (in order to spread the net).
Upu taofiofi: Look before you leap.
Ua leai se manu e olo. Not a pigeon is cooing.
Thus say the hunters when, entering the bush, they notice no sign of the game.
The saying is used of a family or village where perfect peace reigns.
E sa’olele le tuamafa I lou finagalo. Your will is as the flight of an old pigeon.
Tuamafa is an old pigeon, the leader of the flock. It flies where it will and the others follow.
Ua fuifui fa’atasi, ‘ae vao ‘ese’ese. Gathered into a flock from different parts of the forest.
The pigeons are scattered in the bush to look for food, to mate, etc. Then they will gather into a flock to travel to another part of the forest whence they will scatter once more. Used of an assembly whose members have come from different villages and who, later on, will disperse again.
E pipili tia, ‘ae mamao ala. The tia are close together but it is a long way from one to the other.
Two tia (cleared spaces in the bush for pigeon catching) on opposite hills may be so close together that one can be seen from the other, but because of the intervening valley the way between them may be a long one.
Thus, two families or two villages may live in close proximity and yet be far removed one from the other through lack of kinship. This was the original meaning of the proverb. The introduction of Christian ideas has given it a wider meaning: Men are living together on earth, but whether they will ever meet depends on the will of God who may send sickness, storms or other obstacles.
O le fogatia ua malu maunu. The catching place is full od decoy pigeons.
Upu vivi’I referring to a village that boasts of many experienced orators.
Ua numi le fau. The string (to which the decoy pigeon is tied) is entangled
The affair is complicated and difficult.
E atagia taga tafili. The motion of the hunter’s hand is visible.
The hunter sitting in his shelter lets the decoy pigeon fly with a toss into the air. If he is doing this awkwardly, so that the motion of his hand can be seen, the wild pigeons will be suspicious and fly away.
Upu faifai or fa’aulaula: Your designs are too apparent and will fail.
O le a sosopo le manu vale I le fogatia. A worthless bird flies over the tia.
By manu vale is meant any bird other than a pigeon. Should such a bird fly over the tia, it will be ignored by the hunters as only pigeons are wanted.
Ua le se’I seu fa’aalo. Why do you handle your net without considering the others.
Pratt translates: "Why do you not steer out of the way?" The word seu has two meanings: to turn the head of a canoe and to catch birds or fish in a net. If it is used in the first sense, Pratt’s translation is correct and the figure is taken from the method of fishing known as alafaga (Nos. 3, 11, 12). If used in the other sense, it refers to pigeon hunting. One of the hunters tries to catch all the pigeons without considering those who have caught few or non. The information I have had from the natives convinces me that the second explanation is the correct one. The translation, then, would be: "Why do you handle your net without considering the others?"
O le lupe o le taeao. The pigeon of the early morning.
To catch the first pigeon of the day is considered a special achievement.
When a chief, with the help of his tulafale, succeeds in obtaining the hand of a noble lady, the latter (as well as the child issued from the marriage) is praised as
O le lupe na fa’ia mai I le fuifui. The pigeon that was detached from the rest of the flock.
The same figure of speech is used when the offspring of a noble family had been adopted by another village and honoured with a matai name.
When the wooing has presented particular difficulties, as through the lack of connections between the families of the bride and the bridegroom, then the young wife and her child are referred to as
O le lupe na seu silasila. A pigeon caught in the sight of all.
This figure of speech presupposes that a single pigeon was spied by a hunting party and that it was artfully enticed and caught in presence of all the hunters.
The tulafale try their utmost to bring about the wedding of their chief and when this is accomplished they are not sparing in flatteries, as they will be well rewarded with the fine mats that constitute the bride'’ dowry.
Va I lupe maua. To catch one pigeon after the other.
A successful hunt. Upu fiafia referring to events that bring joy and contentment. Ua vai I lupe maua le aso nei – this is a happy day, indeed.
A hunter who catches many pigeons rejoices in his shelter. As this is closed on all sides, his companions know another about it.
‘Oa’oa I faleseu. Delight in the hunter’s hut.
The chiefs Lefaoseu of Atua and ‘Ulumu of Tufutafoe were going to have a competition in pigeon snaring. Ulumu politely offered Lefao to take station in the falemua – the front hut. When a flock of pigeons came down, Lefao caught a great number of them before the other was even ready to swing his net. Lefao then cried out:
Ua tau lupe a Lefao. Lefao’s pigeons are counted (i.e., the contest is ended; I am the victor).
The competition had not been conducted according to the rules, but it was a fait accompli. Lefao’s people heard the call and repeated it so that the news of his victory quickly spread through the bush and through the town. The surprised Ulumu could not but recognize Lefao’s dexterity.
Ua malo fai o le faiva Congratulations to the victor
Ua se togi le seu lagatila Quick as a stone the net flew to the left
Ma le fa’apulou I tualima Backhanded it swept to the right
Ua malo fai o le faiva Congratulations to the victor
Nevertheless ‘Ulumu could not help protesting against his opponent’s unsportsmanlike behaviour, but the latter tried to soothe him with the words: Sau ia, ia e fa’amolemole.
Ua pona I vao, ‘ae liai’iina I ala. The fault was committed in the bush, but it is now talked about on the highway.
Applications: (1) The news is not true, but it has spread too far to be retracted. (2) Howsoever cleverly a thing may be concealed, it will come to light at last.
O le faiva ‘ese lo Pepe. Pepe made a strange catch.
On a narrow neck of land near Puipa’a in Faleata there was a tia. One day chief Pepe, a visitor, was catching pigeons there. A man from Faleata tried to net one of the pigeons that had been enticed to the tia, but he failed. The pigeon flew away, just skimming over the water near the place where Pepe was hidden. Pepe tried to catch it. At this very moment a fish (malauli) happened to jump out of the water and, with one swoop of the net, Pepe caught both pigeon and fish. The neck of land is now called Tiapepe. The saying is used when some person meets with some unexpected fortune while his thoughts and actions were directed to something else.
Fa’alupe tupola. Like a pigeon sitting on the pola (plaited coconut leaves used to enclose the sides of a house).
A tame pigeon having strayed or escaped from its master and failed to find its usual resting place, will sit on the pola of the first house it finds.
Fa’alupe tumulifale. Like a pigeon sitting behind the hunter’s hut.
The hunter is interested only in those wild pigeons that appear in front of his hut. Same meaning as No. 106, with particular stress on the fact that the homeless person gets no consideration.
Fa’asega tu launiu. Like a sega sitting on a coconut leaf.
The sega is a tiny parakeet, the only bird of the parrot family found in Samoa. As it feeds mostly on the blossoms of the coconut tree, a cluster of blooms is its usual dinner table. Finding no blossoms it will sit on the leaves. Same meaning as Nos. 106, 107, 109.
Fa’ape’ape’a le tu. Like the swift that never rests.
Same meaning as the three previous ones.
Ua sili mea le seuga. The hunting implements are hung up.
Thus say the hunters when they have returned home from their expedition and hung up the nets, etc. Refer to the conclusion of a speech, a fono, etc. See also the following.
Ia tala mea fa’asolo. Take down the huts and put everything away. Thus says the leader at the termination of the hunt when the tia is not to be used for some time to come.
Aumai le u matatasi e fana a’I le lupe ua I le filifili. Bring the one-pronged arrow to shoot the pigeon in the thicket.The Samoan arrows had one or more prongs. A many-pronged arrow could not be used to shoot pigeons in a thicket, as the leaves and branches would have hindered or deflected its flight.
Ufiufi manu gase. To cover up dead birds.
As a request: Ia e alofa, ia e ufiufi manu gase. Granting the request: O lenei lava le ufiufi manu gase.
The wild manutagi, hearing the call of the decoy bird, approaches gradually by hopping from tree to tree
Sa (matou) tu’u la’au mai nei. We have rested on many trees on our way hither.
Thus says a travelling party when entering a house, after having previously called at some other villages. (A paraphrase for moemoesolo)
When the wild manutagi has entered the cage of the decoy bird, the hunter, crying ‘ae’ae, jumps out of his shelter and covers the cage.
‘Ae’ae lea manu ua ulu. ‘Ae’ae, the bird has entered (the cage). When you see an advantage, turn it to the good account. Don’t throw away a favourable opportunity.
When a decoy bird refuses to call, people say it is to’ia – stricken (with sickness or obstinacy).
Ua fa’atagito’ia. Like the call of a stricken decoy bird.
Upu faifai: applied to an orator whose speech does not meet with approval.
O le manu tafi manu.. A decoy bird that keeps away the wild birds.
Some manutagi have the bad habit of driving the wild birds out of the cage before the hunter has had time to catch them. Upu faifai applied to a repulsive person whom nobody wants to associate with.
O le a gase manu vao, ‘ae ola manu fanua. The wild birds shall die; the tame ones shall live.
This is the order given by the leader when the hunt is to be terminated. The captured birds will be killed; the decoy birds will be given rest. Used at the end of speech, fono, etc.
Ua aliali le va’ava’a o le tava’e. the tropic bird’s breastbone is visible.
The bird’s breast feathers are very sparse.
Ua se tava’e le ausu I le fulu. He is like the tropic bird which is proud of its feathers. Ua maefulu le tava’e. The tropic bird is careful of its long tail feathers.
According to the Samoans the bird is so proud of its long tail that, being approached from the front, it sits immediately and allows itself to be caught, for fear of damaging its feathers by turning round. If it is approached from behind, it will fly off.
O le manu sina e le soa. A white bird that has no friend.
A white tern that is so proud of its glossy plumage that it will not associate with darker birds. In Aana the expression refers to an aitu incorporated in a white tropic bird that lived on Mount Tafua.
Patupatu amo fale. The clumsy, loutish fellow carries the house. This refers to the preparations for the hunt of the manuali’i. The matai orders his men to build a small hunting hut and carry it with the rest of the hunting implements to the swamp which is the bird’s usual habitat. The heaviest object, i.e., the house, is carried by the strongest fellow – the Cinderella – who has to do all the heavy work.
Se’I muamua se fa’asao o manu vao. Before bird-catching an offering should be made.
Refers to the introductory ceremonies to any function, such as the ceremonial greetings introducing a speech, grace before meals, etc.
When the men prepared for the hunt of the manuali’I they first made an offering to the gods, such as a bunch of bananas. The offering was called fa’asao a manu vao. A bunch of bananas also served as bait for themanuali’i.
Ua se u ta’afale. He is like an arrow that lies about in the house.
The hunter watching in his hut lays three arrows in front of him. One is for the birds approaching in front, the other for the birds coming from the right and the third for those from the left. A fourth arrow for emergencies lies behind the hunter and may be shot in any direction. This is the u ta’afale.
Va I fale ve’a. The space between the huts at the ve’a hunt.
The ve’a (swamp hen) was shot with bow and arrow, the hunter hiding in a small hut. As the ve’a is extremely shy, the huts were built close together so that the hunters could take counsel with each other in a low voice.
Ia seu le manu, ‘ae silasila I le galu. Catch the bird, but watch the breakers.
Ua pafuga le a pei o le faiva o seu gogo. They are shouting together as at the tearn hunt.
When the hunter has allured the gogo, he pulls in his decoy bird and imitates the tern’s call-note "a" He will be answered by the tern with another "a".
Applied to people who meet and take counsel together.
Tavai manu uli. Give water to the black birds.
There are two explanations: (1) during the hunt of the tern a pause is made for the purpose of feeding the decoy birds. Coconut milk was usually given to the birds. However, if there were but few nuts available, only the valuable white birds got coconut milk; the common dark or speckled birds had to content themselves with water. (2) In the war between the birds and the fishes, a black tern (gogo uli) was killed and eaten by a fugafish. At the termination of the war the birds held a fono and drank lava. When the cup was presented to the black tern the gogo sina (white tern) said, "Don’t give him any kava; let him drink water; he has disgraced his family."
Fa’amanu po’ia I le ofaga. Like a bird caught in its nest.
To be taken unawares. The host, for instance, addresses the words to an unexpected visitor to excuse the delay in having things ready for his reception.
O le punapuna a manu fou. The jumping about of a newly caught bird.
A bird that has just been caught jumps about and struggles to escape. After a while it will grow exhausted and surrender to its fate.
Ua sanisani fa’amanuao. The joy of the welcome was like that with which the birds greet the dawn.
Ua savini fa’apunuamanu. To rejoice like a young bird on the return of its parent with food.
The word savini means the beating of the young birds’ wings at their first attempts to fly.
An App for the Faalupega of Samoa is now available.
A new app has been launched for the Matai's or Samoans who aspire to being cultural experts, now with a click on your cell phone you can access the Faalupega or Samoan cultural protocols for each village and district. This app is very useful when engaging in cultural events such as Weddings, Funerals, presentation of gifts and receiving of gifts. The difficulty for many Samoans is the lack of knowledge regarding the accurate village protocols and how the chief titles and their positions are recited. This app now makes all of that easy as you pull up the information on your cell phone and read the proper recital of village's hierarchy of authority. The app is called Measina. It's less than $20.00. Its been a long time coming and we need this in order to keep our heritage fresh and relevant for the newer generations.
This App is available on I-tunes. There is a free version of Aopo's faalupega on the App site. Other villages are available for a price. Enjoy.
Welcome to MEASINA. The hub where you will find all Samoan treasures. The purpose of this app is to propel the preservation of the Samoan language and culture. Samoa is unique to other cultures and it is something to be proud of and embrace. Our uniqueness is a competitive advantage through our divergent thinking. For many of us living overseas, it is easy to lose the language and culture if we're not immersed in it. There is a real danger of losing our language and culture if we don't practice and know the importance of it to our identity. E lele le toloa ae ma'au i le vai!
More content and new features will be released from time to time and will keep you all updated.
Soifua ma ia manuia.
THE LEGEND OF WARRIOR PRINCESS NAFANUA
By Jordan Kwan
Once upon a time, long ago, a war never seen before was waged in Savai’i between warriors from the East (Lea’ea-Sasa’e) against warriors from the West (Lea’ea-Sisifo). Leading the Lea’ea-Sasa’e warriors was High Chief Liloma’iava, whose goal was to claim all of Savai’i for his side. After a prolonged and hard fought battle, High Chief Liloma’iava overwhelmed the Lea’ea-Sisifo warriors and emerged victorious. He enslaved the Lea’ea-Sisifo warriors and the people from the west, including those from the village of Falealupo, and put them to hard labour.
As a strange form of punishment against his enemies, Chief Liloma’iava forced his captives to climb coconut trees feet first and head pointed to the ground as means of demonstrating his power, as well as bringing great shame to those who had defied him.
One of Chief Liloma’iava’s captives was Chief Tai’i from Falealupo. As he did with his other captives, Liloma’iava ordered Tai’i to climb a coconut tree feet first.
As Tai’i made the climb, he lamented its difficulty and let out a loud sigh. So loud was the sigh of Tai’i that it was heard in all corners of Savai’i, and even reached the depths of the spirit world, Pulotu.
Unbeknownst to Liloma’iava, Tai’i was the brother of Saveasi’uleo, the God who presided over Pulotu.
Saveasi’uleo heard the sigh of his brother, and became enraged. With thunderous voice that shook the earth, he awakened his daughter Nafanua from her deep slumber. “My daughter! My daughter! Go forth into the land of the living and right the wrong that has been done to our people. But first, go to the Toa tree and cut it down. From it, fashion four weapons that you shall take with you into battle.”
The Toa tree was the only living thing which thrived in the depths of Pulotu.
Nafanua found the Toa tree, and, gathering her energy, she extended the left palm of her hand and struck it down in one swift motion.
She then began the difficult task of fashioning four elaborate weapons from the Toa tree, infusing it with the spirits of Pulotu. These powerful weapons, once completed, were then given the names ta fesilafa’i, fa’auli’ulito, ulimasao and fa’amategataua.
Before Nafanua made her journey, her father made one last request. “You may fight your enemies, and drive them out of the west, but once you reach the edge of Fualuga, you must stop, for there lives your kin – your mother’s own flesh, her brother Seali’itu.”
Bearing this in mind, Nafanua used the weapon ulimasao, fashioned in the shape of a paddle, and traversed the deep waters that separate Pulotu from the living world.
The journey was long and treacherous. Once Nafanua reached the living world, she lay her head down and fell into a deep sleep along the shores of the village Falealupo.
A couple named Matuna and Matuna from the village happened across a sleeping Nafanua. Matuna and Matuna became awestruck – Nafanua was surely a sight to behold! But their awe soon gave way to fear, for they realized Nafanua was asleep at the entrance of Pulotu. Was she human? Or was she a spirit?
Nafanua awakened and found Matuna and Matuna staring curiously at her.
“Who are you?” both Matuna’s asked.
“My name is Nafanua. I am the daughter of Saveasi’uleo, God of the Underworld, and I come today to aid my people of Falealupo.”
Matuna and Matuna fell to their knees. “A warrior has come to deliver our salvation! But pray, tell, where is your army? We have no more able-bodied men to aid in this cause.”
“I need not an army, for I come with weapons from Pulotu that will deliver your salvation,” replied Nafanua.
“With no army of your own, then we offer ourselves in aid of this worthy task!”
She then presented Matuna and Matuna with the weapon fa’auli’ulito, and brought out the ta fesilafa’i for herself to use. But she made clear instructions. “You shall both take one side of the main road, and I alone the other. Do not venture to my side, for I will not be able to distinguish you from our enemies. I have given you the fa’auli’ulito, infused with spirits that demand that you show no mercy. Yet, like the weapon I hold in my hand, I ask that you instead strike with courtesy. If your enemies beg for mercy, then mercy you shall show.” For Nafanua’s chosen weapon, ta fesilafa’i, meant exactly that – to strike with courtesy.
They left for the front, and thus the next chapter in the Great War began. Day after day, a hoard of Lea’ea-Sasa’e warriors would arrive, and would be overwhelmed by Nafanua and both Matuna’s. It soon became evident that Nafanua was no ordinary woman, and she wielded no ordinary weapon. She fought tirelessly, and methodically, killing her enemies with ease, yet showing mercy to those who surrendered.
One day, in the midst of the battle, Matuna and Matuna forgot Nafanua’s warning. A warrior surrendered, and begged for his life from Matuna and Matuna. But they were overcome with the whispers from the spirits in the fa’auli’ulito which demanded they show no mercy. Matuna and Matuna ventured into Nafanua’s war path in pursuit of the warrior, and came in close proximity of Nafanua’s weapon. With one fell swoop of her club, Nafanua struck Matuna and Matuna to their deaths. Thus the proverb was born, “Ua ola i fale le la’au a Nafanua,” or translated, “The club of Nafanua is used on her own.” This proverb is commonly used by orators to chastise their kin for wrongdoings, or for disobeying explicit orders.
Nafanua fought, and drove the enemies of the west right up to the edge of Fualuga. She stopped. She stood on the crest of the hill Fualuga, and looked down at her enemies in the nearby village, yet she would go no further. She remembered her father’s words about her uncle who lived in the village and decided not to pursue the men further.
Just then, a strong gust of wind came and lifted up the tiputa Nafanua wore, thus exposing her breasts – the men shrieked in shock! For they were under the impression that they were fighting against a man, yet the wind had evidently shown otherwise.
All the men surrendered in shame, for a lone woman had decimated them.
All the captives were soon released from bondage, and cries of jubilee soon filled the air as the people of Falealupo celebrated the victory of their Warrior Princess, Nafanua, who delivered their salvation.
Note: The powerhouse that is Vaimasenu'u Zita Martel is pictured above as the famed warrior Nafanua. If you'd like to see more pictures, as well as read my interview with Zita, check out the link in the first comment below.
Ten Vaka (Polynesian Sailing Vessels) sailing the Pacific Ocean at this very moment to bring message of the islands to Sydney
The seed Pacific Voyagers planted six years ago that evolved to the ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ voyage in 2011/2012 of the seven Vaka Moana that the Pacific Voyagers Foundation commissioned and organized now expands further with the participation of four of these Vaka Moana in the current ’Mua voyage’. ‘Mua’ simultaneously means ‘the bow of a canoe’, and to journey or travel in a certain direction.
The four vaka that are sailing right now to Sydney are journeying on behalf of all the people of the Pacific Islands. The vessels that participate are:
Marumaru Atua (Pacific Voyagers Cook Islands),
Gaualofa (Samoa Voyaging Society, joined by crew from the Tonga Voyaging Society ‘Kalauni ‘O Tonga’),
Uto Ni Yalo (The Uto ni Yalo Trust, formerly known as the Fiji Islands Voyaging Society), and
Haunui (Te Toki Voyaging Trust from New Zealand, will be departing Auckland to join the other vaka on the 22nd of October)
They are on their way to the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place November 12 to 19 in Sydney to deliver an important message on people, oceans and climate change to the world –their message “A Pacific Call, Global Action”. The congress is a landmark global forum on protected areas. It will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come.
The “Mua: Guided by Nature voyage” is a partnership between the IUCN Oceania Regional Office and the voyaging societies. The need for global action on oceans and climate change has brought the organizations together– in recognition that these are issues that affect all Pacific Islanders. The Mua voyage will bring this important message to the world when the canoes sail into Sydney Harbour.
While the four Vaka Moana are en route to Sydney – after a fantastic stay in Fiji where all crew have been hosted and cared for very warmly by the Fijian community under the patronage of the Fijian Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – six other vaka are sailing the ocean at the very same time for their different missions:
The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s vakas Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are approaching Auckland via Tonga on their Mālama Honua — ”Care for Island Earth” — voyage.
Pacific Voyagers’ Vaka Motu Okeanos has just reached Samoa, the Vaka Motu Rangi is effecting passenger and cargo services from Papeete to Makatea and Rangiroa while the two Vaka Moana Te Matau A Maui and Fa’afaite are conducting educational work. Two more vaka, operated by Hector Busby, are sailing in New Zealand, used for teaching the art of celestial navigation.
We, their fellow voyagers, are very proud to see that at this very moment ten vaka are sailing over the ocean. This is a real dream coming true because this is what we envisioned and dreamed of when we launched our first vaka Marumaru Atua back in 2008… that one day maybe ten Vaka Moana or more would sail through the Southern Ocean. Thanks to our courageous voyaging brothers and sisters this dream now becomes a reality!
With this inspiring and encouraging news we wish all Pacific Voyagers happy sailing with fair winds, a safe return and hopefully good news!
Dieter Paulmann and the Pacific Voyagers Charitable Trust Team
IUCN Oceania is the regional office of IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature), which is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization and a leading authority on the environment and sustainable development. IUCN Oceania is working with governments and power utilities across the vast Pacific region to develop renewable energy sources among plenty of other tasks. Oceania is geographically one of IUCN’s largest regional programmes, covering over 100 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean.
The Samoans of Wailekutu. A Samoan enclave in Fiji tries to maintain its Samoan heritage.
Fiji enjoys a rich cultural heritage with strong representations of Pacific island nations in the faces of those who now proudly call themselves Fijians.
However one of the least known Pacific Island communities in Fiji is the Samoan settlement at Wailekutu, situated two kilometres from Lami Town.
Fiji has many families with Samoan heritage, the likes of the Fraser, Samuels, Hughes, Hoeflichs and Miller clans while chiefly ties between the two countries have been in existence for centuries.
Wailekutu, however, was the closest thing we ever got to a Samoan village.
It was once just a small track running through a mosquito infested mangrove swamp adjacent to where the cement factory now stands.
But the strong leadership qualities and vision of the hardworking men and women of Samoan ancestry who settled at Wailekutu, was unique and helped them overcome great odds to build a life for their families in a foreign country.
Wailekutu's Samoan settlement history is tied up with the Catholic Church who assisted initial settlers, Toma Peniata, Viliame Raqauqau and Falkeofi Filipo to negotiate the purchase of 11 acres and 4 roods of freehold land alongside a freshwater creek at Wailekutu.
The homes straddled a ridge in a hilly area with Mount Korobaba forming a prominent backdrop.
The land was apparently under mortgage with the owners Ram Kisun Bisun brothers unable to keep up with the payments, according to the book "Samoans in Fiji", by University of the South Pacific academic Morgan Tuimaleali-ifano.
The Samoans took over payment in 1955 and were able to make payment instalments of 30 pounds a month for 3 years, an agreement that included 6 per cent interest on the outstanding principle.
These 13 families eventually paid $1,150 pounds for the land.
The first settlers were Toma Peniata (Penuafa), Aipopo Leauli, Povi Fuauli Toelupe (Mary Fong), Tupuai Tusani (Henry Peters), Palepa-Vili-Feseta'I (Raqauqau) Toso Stephen, Lau Andrew and Lau Sale. This group was later joined by Toma Peniata's daughter, Seki Lobendahn and her husband Pila Seipua.
Three of the original land purchasers, Telesia Apolonia, Kelera Moeva and Lui Telea Seleima, preferred to live in Suva.
The settlers were made up of one fisherman, two farmers, two carpenters, four hospital wardens, one cafÃ© proprietor, one housewife and two plumbers.
Relocating to Wailekutu was necessary as the settlers needed a place that they could truly call home and something in black and white.
They initially lived at an area along the Queen's Highway, 10 miles out of Suva on land owned by the Catholic Church called Navesi Sefulu Maila.
Tuimaleali-ifano added that many Samoans who lived in Suva during the 1940s fled to the area for temporary shelter in fear of a Japanese invasion which did not eventuate and ended up staying there for years.
Many of the Samoans, who resided at Navesi and who went on to settle at Wailekutu had dominated the workforce at St Giles Psychiatric Hospital along Reservoir Rd.
The large number of families that took resident at Navesi also comprise people of Wallis and Futuna, Tongan, Kiribati and Rotuman descent.
Although Wailekutu was officially classified as a settlement and unlike a Fijian village was without a turaga ni koro it had matai, (Samoan chief) four of whom were represented during its early days and of tula fale rank, took on an organisational role in the settlement.
Peniata, originally of Leulumoega in Samoa, was by all accounts a natural leader whose personal dynamism, Tuimaleali-ifano said, made him an easy choice to take charge of the community, along with Filipo and Raqauqau.
In light of his distinguished role at Wailekutu and his leadership skills and matai rank, a special delegation of chiefs travelled from Samoa by steamship in 1958 to confer on Toma Peniata the Penu'afa tulafale title, which belongs to the ali'i S'oa'emalelagi of Vaitapu, Leulumoega.
"In Wailekutu, the matai were recognised as community spokesmen and decision makers and their infleunce was generaly felt in Suva," Tuimaleali-ifano continued.
In the early days life in the settlement was tough particularly after the families had just moved to Wailekutu, which was little more than a mangrove swamp.
"In 1955, access to the settlement from the Queen's Road was through a track which went over a mangrove swamp, then a stream, then up a hill. During the rainy season, the track became heavily bogged," wrote Tuimaleali-ifano.
"The dragging and carting of rocks and soil to cover boggy areas for the construction of a more permanent track, the clearing of the bush obstructing the access track, clearing for house sites, carting of house materials up the river, and carting water from the creeks and wells uphill, depended very much on strong leadership and mutual corporation of the first settlers," he added. The current generation Wailekutu Samoans still remember vividly the hard life experienced in the early days of the settlement.
"It was a very small track running through a swamp and it was a real struggle getting around the place as far back as I can recall," said Raphael Lobendahn, a grandson of Peniata and Wailekutu Samoan Settlement spokesman.
"After a while we got so used to it we could find our way through the track even in the dark because we knew every single nook and cranny," he said.
The Lobendahns are one of the more prominent kailoma families in Fiji, have been a familiar name on the national scene, with Dan Lobendahn, representing Fiji in rugby union and Vincent Lobendahn, becoming a minister under Sitiveni Rabuka's government in the 1990s.
Eki Lobendahn another former Wailekutu settler was also a very prominent guitarist around the Suva area during the old days.
Another family with Samoan ancestry, the Zincks, also settled in the area although away from the original tract of land that was first purchased.
Former trade unionist and government minister Kenneth Zinnk was raised in humble settings at Wailekutu.
One of 8 children Raphael Lobendahn said life in the settlement was tough because the elders ingrained in them strict etiquette modelled after that of a Samoan village.
"My grandfather (Toma Peniata), who was trustee of the land, was a matai so he brought all their ways and discipline with them to Wailekutu and instilled it in us.
"You couldn't play or make noise on Sunday otherwise you would get a good whipping. Our elders, particularly my grandfather were very tough on us.
"They were hot-headed people and when you said something you had to do it. Some of their teachings are still embedded in us now."
Over the decades, members of the community have intermarried with those of other ethnic backgrounds including iTaukei. This has led to a gradual decline in the actual use of the Samoan language at the settlement which the current community leaders are trying to revive.
Seve Leitupo Lafai Sa'e, a pure Samoan married into the Wailekutu community has been teaching the current generation important aspects of Samoan culture, including the siva (traditional dance) and their own unique way of conducting a kava ceremony.
"It has been very challenging for me in teaching the Samoan language and culture because I also have to be mindful that many here have married people from other ethnic background, mainly iTaukei," said Lafai Sa'e, commonly known as Lei.
"The good thing is the young and old here are so eager to learn and it has made my job a lot easier," said the native of Sataua in the district of Asau on Savaii island.
As a result of the cultural lessons, more individuals at the settlement are now greeting each other with Talofa rather than the normal Bula and Vinaka has been replaced by Fa'asetai.
"It's important that we do not lose our identity which is why we are happy with the work that Lei (Sa'e) has been doing," said Lobendahn.
"Its very critical that we revive the language. Right now only a few us know a few words which is kind of embarrassing when we host people from Samoa visiting Fiji," he added.
Interestingly when the Samoan national rugby team, then known as Western Samoa, played a game in Suva in 1987, the community reportedly hosted a reception for the team where 300 palusami, 70 middle sized taro and a large pig and chickens were consumed.
Former government minister Vincent Lobendahn, who shares links to the settlement through his maternal grandmother recalls the Spartan conditions people had to contend with initially at the settlement.
"I found that when I first went through there as a kid, I saw that families who had more permanent employment were able to build permanent structures. The rest had to make do with whatever kind of temporary shelter that they could organise," said Lobendahn, who is now 77-years-old and of Samoan/Sinhalese ancestry.
The long-time Lami resident said that although the settlers were mostly unskilled labourers they had an admirable work ethic which was helped by their unique culture and doing things "the Samoan way".
In saying that Lobendhan also acknowledged the norm for the matai elders at Wailekutu "to let the fist go first and then talk later".
Suva bank worker Susan Leitupo nee Peters still recalls as a little girl listening to her grandfather Tupaia Tusani, one of the original settlers, read his Samoan bible.
"I was always very fascinated by my grandfather's pa'e (traditional Samoan tattoo) covering his lower torso. We knew it was only for people of chiefly status and it was quite special to look at," she adds.
Tusani was originally from Lefaga in Samoa.
Leitupo who speaks the basics of the language at home, said she often cooks traditonal Samoan palusami and faalifu, a Samoan dish of taro cooked in coconut cream in efforts to revive their distinct culture and often organises siva performances with other women from the settlement on invitation at gatherings.
Alongside husband Seve Leitupo Lafai Sa'e, she has been trying to instil pride in Samoan culture in their children and young people from the settlement.
Two of their daughters, Agnes and Felicia who study at the University of the South Pacific, are registered with the Samoan USP Students Association rather than their Fijian equivalent, underlining their desire to absorb more Samoan culture in their lives, greatly inspired by the rich history of their ancestors.
"We are so proud of our Samoan heritage but we know it isn't easy reviving our culture especially with the current generations who know nothing about it," she said.
Tuimaleali-ifano said while efforts to revive Samoan culture at Wailekutu are "idealic and romantic" it still needs a consistent program in place to sustain it with more interaction with the land of their forefathers.
Tuimaleali-ifano is aware of individuals from the settlement who have managed to reconnect with their culture by actually visiting Samoa but while this has somewhat helped, more needs to be done to ensure future generations do not lose their sense of identity.
"The Samoan culture at Wailekutu will disappear completely if no serious attempts are made to incorporate something into the school curriculum from primary right throught to secondary level," urged the Suva scholar, who himself is of pure Samoan heritage.
The people of Wailekutu, while making an attempt to revive their cultural identity, must balance this with the ensuring families have their individual rights as owners of their own property into the future. Raphael Lobendahn said there were plans in place to subdivide the land between the families which reside at Wailekutu.
"This has always been in the pipeline in the future. We would like to see each of the families get their own plot," he said.
Squatters have also emerged along the settlement which poses its fare share of challenges as Wailekutu people endeavour to retain their distinct identity.
However Lobendahn maintains that despite more people from other ethnic backgrounds gradually moving into the area, the settlement will continue to be a Samoan settlement.
"This is our identity and we will do everything to protect it so that our future generations will not lose touch with their roots. It's important to know where they came from and understand the culture of our ancestors," he added.
The Wailekutu Samoan settlement without a doubt is a fascinating example of the diverse ethnic backgrounds that combine to make Fiji the multicultural melting pot it is.
Samoa's architects look to the past to boost climate resilience
In many Pacific Island countries, Western-style home construction has been gradually usurping traditional architecture. But returning to indigenous practices of building and planning communities could be key to creating the disaster-resilient communities of the future, experts say.
In the Samoan community of Sa’anapu, for instance, local people, working with architects and environmental experts, are designing a new community centre that will blend aspects of traditional Samoan architecture with solar energy, water tanks – and the capacity to shelter up to 200 people for three weeks in the event of a disaster.
At the new centre, it will be “very easy for the village to come together and have a meeting and solve any problem, and it will be passed on that way to the next generation,” said Popese Leaana, the traditional orator of Sa’anapu.
In Samoa, 70 per cent of the South Pacific island state’s population of 190,372 people lives in low-lying coastal villages, many of which face high risks of devastation by gale-force winds, flooding, sea surges and tsunamis.
“The design of the fale connects the roof directly to the posts that are concreted into the ground, creating less points of weakness. It is a proven construction technique in Samoa
Anne Godinet-Milbank, Samoan architect and project manager of a post-Cyclone Evan housing reconstruction programme
In Sa’anapu, a village of 2,000 people on the south coast of the main Upolu island, abandoned dwellings scatter the foreshore, bearing witness to the ferocity of an 8.1 magnitude undersea earthquake and tsunami in 2009. Across the country 5,000 people and 850 households were affected by the disaster, including 25 homes in Sa’anapu.
Three years later island communities were again ravaged by severe Cyclone Evan, which hit during Samoa’s November to April tropical cyclone season.
Experts predict things could get worse. According to the Pacific Climate Change Science Program, wind speeds of Pacific cyclones are expected to increase 11 percent this century, while rainfall intensity will go up 20 per cent.
People here “have to live with (disasters) and (previously) they built their houses accordingly, so we need to learn from the past and offer new solutions to improve things for the future,” urged Samoan architecure graduate Carinnya Feaunati.
Solutions from the pastFor centuries, she said, the Polynesian people of Samoa have built structures appropriate to the climate and put them in locations to maximise social cohesion and effective governance – attributes especially important in times of crisis.
Traditional architecture is epitomised by the ‘fale’, an oval-shaped open structure with timber posts supporting a steep domed roof. All of the building elements are ‘lashed’ or bound together, originally with a plaited rope made from dried coconut fibre.
The fale’s open structure allows strong winds to pass straight through it, and the complex system of lashing offers flexible movement and strength in the face of ever-changing winds, Feaunati said.
“The roof of a fale is curved and winds which hit it will move around its surface without meeting resistance,” agreed Daniel Conley, a lecturer in construction in the Department of Applied Science at the National University of Samoa, in the capital, Apia.
The fale began to change in the 20th century as Western influences took hold. Its form became square, with solid walls enclosing the structure and corrugated iron replacing roofs of thatched leaves. Today, two thirds of the buildings in Samoa are Western-style, with only a third traditionally Samoan, according to national housing data.
But introduced building designs are not usually built for the extremes of tropical climates, Conley pointed out. Cyclone winds that meet the resistance of vertical rigid walls are directed upward and are likely to lift off the roof and even the rafters, and pull the building apart, he said.
The Samoan government estimates that housing damage and loss due to Cyclone Evan totaled 43.3 million Samoan tala ($17.8 million) with recovery and reconstruction amounting to 49.9 million tala ($20.4 million). The majority of homes damaged during the disaster were Western style, with destruction of roofs a common problem.
Samoan architect Anne Godinet-Milbank, who is also project manager of a post-Cyclone Evan housing reconstruction programme supported by the UN Development Programme, said that the traditional structure of the Samoan fale is central to “building back better.”
“The design of the fale connects the roof directly to the posts that are concreted into the ground, creating less points of weakness. It is a proven construction technique in Samoa,” she said.
Western housing designs, in contrast, are reliant on more points of connection from the foundation to the roof, leaving them more vulnerable to fail under stress, she said.
Some modern innovations, such as hurricane straps – strips of galvanised steel used to bind rafters and wall joints – make sense and can strengthen buildings, Conley said. The problem is that “these extra building items are expensive and in many developing countries, including Samoa, people often opt not to include them in construction,” he said.
Resilient villages - not just homesBesides home construction techniques, the physical planning of communities also has consequences for disaster resilience, the experts said.
In Sa’anapu, population growth, natural disasters and rising sea levels, which have eroded the coastline one metre a year, have forced residents to disperse inland from the village’s original shoreline location.
“When we lived in the coastal area, all the village stayed together, but we moved inland and my village has changed. Now one chief is far away from another chief,” said Leaana, the village orator. . The original settlement featured homes sited around a central area used for gatherings and meetings, he said.
Now a project focused on reducing risks through architecture aims to reunify the village by creating a new weather-resilient commmunity hub.
‘Managing Risk for Adapted and Considerate Architecture’, a collaborative project between the village, environmental experts and architects from the New Zealand-based Atelier Workshop, aims to create a fale-inspired structure that will house the village preschool, women’s committee, craft workshops and a fresh produce market. It could also be used as an emergency shelter in the event of a disaster.
“We started to imagine a place that could be used daily and weekly by the village, but could also transform into an emergency shelter with capacity to store relief supplies and even provide a landing for a helicopter,” said Cecile Bonnifait of the Atelier Workshop.
The aim, she said, is to strengthen the community’s civic life and traditional governance structure, and boost its capacity to coordinate an effective response to future disasters.
Sophisticated 600-Year-Old Canoe Discovered in New Zealand
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
Sophisticated oceangoing canoes and favorable winds may have helped early human settlers colonize New Zealand, a pair of new studies shows.
The remote archipelagos of East Polynesia were among the last habitable places on Earth that humans were able to colonize. In New Zealand, human history only began around 1200-1300, when intrepid voyagers arrived by boat through several journeys over some generations.
A piece of that early heritage was recently revealed on a beach in New Zealand, when a 600-year-old canoe with a turtle carved on its hull emerged from a sand dune after a harsh storm. The researchers who examined the shipwreck say the vessel is more impressive than any other canoe previously linked to this period in New Zealand. [The 9 Craziest Ocean Voyages]
Separately, another group of scientists discovered a climate anomaly in the South Pacific during this era that would have eased sailing from central East Polynesia southwest to New Zealand. Both findings were detailed today (Sept. 29) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Canoe on the coast
The canoe was revealed near the sheltered Anaweka estuary, on the northwestern end of New Zealand's South Island.
"It kind of took my breath away, really, because it was so carefully constructed and so big," said Dilys Johns, a senior research fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
The hull measured about 20 feet (6.08 meters), long and it was made from matai, or black pine, found in New Zealand. The boat had carved interior ribs and clear evidence of repair and reuse.Carbon dating tests showed that the vessel was last caulked with wads of bark in 1400.
Johns and colleagues say it's likely that the hull once had a twin, and together, these vessels formed a double canoe (though the researchers haven't ruled out the possibility that the find could have been a single canoe with an outrigger). If the ship was a double canoe, it probably had a deck, a shelter and a sail that was pitched forward, much like the historic canoes of the Society Islands (a group that includes Bora Bora and Tahiti) and the Southern Cook Islands. These island chains have been identified as likely Polynesian homelands of the Maori, the group of indigenous people who settled New Zealand.
The boat was surprisingly more sophisticated than the canoes described centuries later by the first Europeans to arrive in New Zealand, Johns told Live Science. At the time of European contact, the Maori were using dugout canoes, which were hollowed out from single, big trees with no internal frames. In the smaller islands of Polynesia, boat builders didn't have access to trees that were big enough to make an entire canoe; to build a vessel, therefore, they had to create an elaborate arrangement of smaller wooden planks.
The newly described canoe seems to represent a mix of that ancestral plank technology and an adaptation to the new resources on New Zealand, since the boat has some big, hollowed-out portions but also sophisticated internal ribs, Johns and colleagues wrote.
The turtle carving on the boat also seems to link back to the settlers' homeland. Turtle designs are rare in pre-European carvings in New Zealand, but widespread in Polynesia, where turtles were important in mythology and could represent humans or even gods in artwork. In many traditional Polynesian societies, only the elite were allowed to eat turtles, the study's authors noted.
A separate recent study examined the climate conditions that may have made possible the long journeys between the central East Polynesian islands and New Zealand. Scientists looked at the region's ice cores and tree rings, which can act like prehistoric weather stations, recording everything from precipitation to wind patterns to atmospheric pressure and circulation strength. [10 Surprising Ways Weather Changed History]
Because of today's wind patterns, scholars had assumed that early settlers of New Zealand would have had to sail thousands of miles from East Polynesia against the wind. But when the researchers reconstructed climate patterns in the South Pacific from the year 800 to 1600, they found several windows during the so-called Medieval Climate Anomaly when trade winds toward New Zealand were strengthened. (That anomaly occurred between the years 800 and 1300.)
"There are these persistent 20-year periods where there are extreme shifts in climate system," the study's head author, Ian Goodwin, a marine climatologist and marine geologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, told Live Science. "We show that the sailing canoe in its basic form would have been able to make these voyages purely through downwind sailing."
Goodwin added that a downwind journey from an island in central East Polynesia might take about two weeks in a sailing canoe. But the trip would take four times that if the voyagers had to travel upwind.
Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.
Polynesians in California: Evidence for an Ancient Exchange?
by James Wiener
For several decades, scholars have been searching for tangible evidence of Pre-Columbian contacts between the Old and New Worlds. Whether based on cross-cultural comparisons, historical records, studies of linguistics, or anthropological inquiry, these claims have stimulated heated debates and controversy in various fields. In recent times however, there appears to be a growing body of evidence to suggest that there were exchanges between Polynesian seafarers and native peoples in the Americas. From c. 300 to c. 1450 CE, the Polynesians traversed the Pacific Ocean, settling remote island chains like those of present-day Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Could they have also made it to the New World?
The Chumash had the most highly developed coastal technologies in North America.
In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Terry L. Jones, an archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the California Polytechnic State University, with regard to his assertion that there were technological and linguistic exchanges between the Chumash and Gabrielino tribes of California with ancient Polynesians.
JW: Dr. Terry Jones, welcome to the Ancient History Encyclopedia and thank you for speaking with me about your research! I am pleased to inform you that you are the only archaeologist that we have spoken to about either prehistoric California or the Polynesians.
Before delving into the nuances of possible Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic exchanges between Polynesia and North America, I was curious to ask you how you first become interested in the Chumash tribe of California? Renowned for their baskets, rock art, and bead-work, the Chumash were also skilled navigators who maintained sophisticated networks of trade that impressed the Spanish during the Colonial era (1697-1821 CE). In your own words, what attracted you to them as an archaeologist (or anthropologist)?
TJ: Early in my career, I developed a special interest in coastal archaeology and marine-oriented societies. The Chumash (and Gabrielino) had the most highly developed coastal technologies and adaptations in California. Plus, the islands that they inhabited have a remarkably pristine and abundant archaeological record. It seemed inevitable that my research interests would eventually bring me to the islands and the Chumash although at present I mostly work on mainland Chumash sites.
JW: The Chumash and their neighbors to the south–the Gabrielino of the Tongva ethnic group–were the only North American natives to build seagoing-plank canoes. What makes these plank-built vessels so different from those of other Native Americans, which would suggest Polynesian antecedents?
TJ: Building a plank-sewn boat requires a significant amount of skill and specialized engineering. All of the other watercraft on the west coast of North America were either tule balsas (bundles of dried reeds fashioned into canoes) or single-dug-out logs. The latter in some cases were very large, and could be used for ocean travel, but the techniques used to produce them are profoundly different than those used to build the sewn-plank canoe. The technological differences between the Chumash sewn-plank canoe, and the tule balsa used by their neighbors for 800 km (500 mi) to the north and south, seem significant. Thetomolo was the single most technologically complex watercraft built in North America and it stands apart from all of the other Native boats of western North America. In truth, it stands out across all of the New World.
JW: Your research partner–Dr. Kathryn A. Klar, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley–claims that the Chumash word for “sewn-plank canoe,” tomolo,might have originated from the Hawaiian word,kumula‘au, which refers to the redwood logs used in their construction. Is Chumash considered an “isolated” Native American language by scholars? Dr. Klar establishes several interesting, linguistic parallels between Chumash and Polynesian languages. Could you elaborate further?
TJ: What my colleague actually proposed was that the Chumash borrowed a word from the boat-building lexicon of speakers of the language at the time of the first possible contact event, the one which introduced the plank sewing technique; linguists refer to it as “proto-Central Eastern Polynesian,” and the form at that time was something like *tumura’aakau. (Linguists “reconstruct” forms from earlier, unwritten languages using the methodology of historical-comparative linguistics.)Kumulaa’au is the Modern Hawaiian word for “tree which provides wood useful for making boats,” and it meant something similar c. 1,200 years ago in proto-CEP. Hawaiian was one of the languages which developed out of proto-CEP (others include Tahitian and Maori).
The following additional words, which are phonologically anomalous in their languages, are believed to be borrowed from Central Eastern Polynesian (CEP):
JW: Thank you so much for that linguistic clarification as this is an essential aspect of your argument. I wanted to ask a question about another important aspect of your research: periodization. Which centuries are we speaking of in reference to these hypothetical encounters between the Polynesians and Chumash? Could they have been sustained over long periods of time or were they merely episodic in frequency?
TJ: We do not believe that contacts were by any means sustained, but we do see the likelihood of two distinct contact events: one close to c. 700 CE that resulted in conveyance of sewn-plank boat technology and the composite harpoon, and a second event around c. 1300 CE that resulted in diffusion of the compound bone hook, grooved and barbed bone fishhooks, and grooved and barbed shell fishhooks. The earlier event may have originated from central Polynesia, while the second was from Hawaii.
JW: There is strong material evidence to support the premise that the Polynesians also visited South America; namely, that of sweet potato diffusion across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Much has also been made about alleged “Polynesian” chicken bones found at El Arenal, in Arauco Province, Chile. Are there commonalities in the evidence observed in Chile (or Ecuador) to what you have found among the Chumash and Gabrielino of coastal California?
TJ: Chile is the only other place in the New World where canoes were made by plank-sewing. The date of c. 1300 CE that we assign to the later contact event in southern California is very similar to the time when chickens were likely introduced into Chile from Polynesia. This date falls well within the era of greatest eastern Polynesian long-distance seafaring (documented by the chemistry of stone adzes) that ended around c. 1450 CE.
JW: I understand that your application of the “transpacific diffusion” hypothesis has proven quite controversial in the United States. How has it been received elsewhere around the world? Additionally, why do you believe there has been such theoretical resistance to your theory of transpacific exchange reaching North America? Is it due in part to Thor Heyerdahl (a Norwegian ethnologist, 1914-2002) and his Kon-Tiki theories?
TJ: My impression is that it has been better received elsewhere, especially in Europe. However, Pacific specialists are divided. Those who favor the new “short” chronology for Polynesian settlement of the Pacific do not like our date of c. 700 CE because according to this new dating scheme, it predates the initial settlement of Hawaii, the nearest Polynesian outpost to California.
There seem to be at least three mains reasons for the resistance among Americanists:
JW: Before concluding this interview, I wanted to inquire whether you have received comments from members of the Chumash or Gabrielino tribes about your research?
TJ: I have not done a formal poll, but we have encountered two opinions. One, expressed early on was something along the lines of, “yes and we might have come from the moon too.” They were obviously not supportive. However, more commonly, we have been told that “this is something we have always known happened!”
This latter opinion has been expressed by Chumash and Gabrielino descendants who have contacted Kathryn and I over the years. In many cases, these are Native people who are today involved in building modern replicas of tomolos and resurrecting traditional seafaring skills.
JW: Dr. Jones, thank you again for speaking with us and sharing your expertise! This has been an absolutely fascinating conversation and it has been a pleasure to learn more about your investigation into long distance exchange across the Pacific. We wish you many happy adventures in research, and we hope that you will keep us posted as to your further studies.
TJ: Thanks for the opportunity, James. The case is presented in its entirety in Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World (AltaMira Press, 2011).
Samoan under the skin
By John Weekes
He's too modest to call himself a pioneer but 16-year-old Connor Bellett turned a few heads, and overturned a few stereotypes, with a winning performance at the world's biggest Polynesian festival.
Plenty of onlookers were bemused by his presence when Connor joined the St Peter's College Samoan Group ahead of this year's Polyfest.
Their reasons were only skin deep - Bellett was the sole white kid in the Samoan culture group.
Bellett said he had trouble persuading some people he was serious when he decided to join his Samoan friends in the group this year. The festival performance required about seven weeks of practice, 18 hours a week, but Bellett persisted.
"I've got a lot of Samoan friends. It's one of those things where you get a chance to do it at school but, once you leave, you'll never be able to do it again."
Most training happened after school and on Saturdays. The group also practised at lunchtime, and the sole "palagi" raised a few eyebrows.
Bellett was grateful for the support from his Samoan schoolmates. "They were really respectful about it," he said. "They actually realise how much hard work it takes, and they appreciate it."
By the time Polyfest arrived, St Peter's were underdogs. But they proved the doubters wrong at last week's big event, taking out the top award at the Samoan Stage.
Bellett and his pals had a much bigger impact than Cyclone Lusi, earning praise at Polyfest and in the days since.
Bellett posted about his experience with the Samoan group on Facebook and radio station Flava shared Bellett's post, to the delight of thousands this week.
The Year 12 student was heartened by the reaction.
"One of the reasons I did it was to prove to people you don't have to be Samoan to be in a Samoan group; Tongan to be in the Tongan group. You can just do what you want. It's just your heart that matters really."
The lads are performing again at today's St Peter's College Fair, as well as the school's Tongan and kapa haka groups.
Bellett hoped to perform at the Polyfest Samoan stage with St Peter's again next year. Next time, he may not be the only palagi.
Studies of Sweet Potatoe confirm Polynesians were traveling to America and back to South Pacific long before white explorers.
The prevailing theory about the "rediscovery" of the American continents used to be such a simple tale. Most people are familiar with it: In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Then that theory was complicated when, in 1960, archaeologists discovered a site in Canada's Newfoundland, called L'Anse aux Meadows, which proved that Norse explorers likely beat Columbus to the punch by about 500 years.
Now startling new DNA evidence promises to complicate the story even more. It turns out that it was not Columbus or the Norse — or any Europeans at all — who first rediscovered the Americas. It was actually the Polynesians.
All modern Polynesian peoples can trace their origins back to a sea-migrating Austronesian people who were the first humans to discover and populate most of the Pacific islands, including lands as far-reaching as Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Despite the Polynesians' incredible sea-faring ability, however, few theorists have been willing to say that Polynesians could have made it as far east as the Americas. That is, until now.
Clues about the migration patterns of the early Polynesians have been revealed thanks to a new DNA analysis performed on a prolific Polynesian crop: the sweet potato, according to Nature. The origin of the sweet potato in Polynesia has long been a mystery, since the crop was first domesticated in the Andes of South America about 8,000 years ago, and it couldn't have spread to other parts of the world until contact was made. In other words, if Europeans were indeed the first to make contact with the Americas between 500 and 1,000 years ago, then the sweet potato shouldn't be found anywhere else in the world until then.
The extensive DNA study looked at genetic samples taken from modern sweet potatoes from around the world and historical specimens kept in herbarium collections. Remarkably, the herbarium specimens included plants collected during Capt. James Cook’s 1769 visits to New Zealand and the Society Islands. The findings confirmed that sweet potatoes in Polynesia were part of a distinct lineage that were already present in the area when European voyagers introduced different lines elsewhere. In other words, sweet potatoes made it out of America before European contact.
The question remains: How else could Polynesians have gotten their hands on sweet potatoes prior to European contact, if not by traveling to America themselves? The possibility that sweet potato seeds could have inadvertently floated from the Americas to Polynesia on land rafts is believed to be highly unlikely.
Researchers believe that Polynesian seafarers must have discovered the Americas first, long before Europeans did. The new DNA evidence, taken together with archaeological and linguistic evidence regarding the timeline of Polynesian expansion, suggests that an original contact date between 500 CE and 700 CE between Polynesia and America seems likely. That means that Polynesians would have arrived in South America even before the Norse had landed in Newfoundland.
The findings show that the technological capabilities of ancient peoples and cultures from around the world should not be underestimated, and that the history of human expansion across the globe is probably far more complicated than anyone could have previously imagined.
Study: Spaniards didn't get to South America first