RUN YOUR RACE!

We have now reached the end of the first six months of 2016 and I hope that all that you had planned for at the beginning of this year has come to fruition, or that all is progressing well. Since my post in January 2016, a lot has happened with me and I would like to take this opportunity to share some of those experiences keeping in mind that I work with youth, young adults and the community in general, some of whom follow this blog.

At the beginning of this year, I was provided with opportunities to undertake a number of roles at Western Sydney University (in Sydney, Australia) and as a result, I began working this year as a Project Officer, a Tutor, a Lecturer and a Unit/Course Coordinator (the teaching roles were under the Bachelor of Education course and the Master of Teaching course). A few of the roles were new for me which meant that in order to be able to navigate these new spaces successfully, I had to prioritise my time, keep my focus on my responsibilities, and work diligently to ensure that all that needed to be completed would be fulfilled in a timely fashion and to the best of my abilities. However, it was not just work that I had to prepare and plan for at the beginning of this year.  I also needed to factor in time to fly home to New Zealand to visit my parents and my family and spend quality time with them. Accordingly, the beginning of this year involved a lot of planning, organising and forecasting on my part.

Despite the competing deadlines, I managed to deliver on all key objectives which were set at the beginning of the year. Consequently, positive outcomes were attained in relation to student academic achievement and key performance indicators were achieved. In addition, I was also able to fly home (Auckland, New Zealand) three times over the past six months and each time I did, I made the most of my time spent with my parents and my family – priceless! In turn, my family and I also experienced successes by which we are truly grateful for.

While my experiences within the first six months of this year seem like it was all positive, in reality this was not the case. There were just as many challenges that I encountered as there were successes. I was faced with obstacles along the way which acted as distractions or hindrances. However, through God’s grace, I managed to push through despite the difficult times. In saying that, I have some questions for you to reflect on:

  • What do you do when you are faced with obstacles or challenges in your life?
  • How do you deal with distractions or hindrances?
  • If you have addressed any of the above, what was the outcome?
  • What has been your greatest learning over the past six months?
  • How will your new learnings or realisations inform you as you move into the next six months?

Over the years, I have found it particularly encouraging to have positive people, and people who will tell it like is, speak into my life. Allowing them to do so has provided me with their perspective on life which at times may differ from mine. In particular, when I am dealing with difficult situations, these people have influenced me to focus on the positives. My journey has been empowered with a support system as such. As a result, a lot of growth and personal development on my part has eventuated. I feel optimistic about proceeding into the final six months of this year. I hope that you are feeling the same too about what the remainder of this year will look like for you.

Below is a list of seven pieces of advice that I received over the past six months from my family and friends. I hope that the following will encourage or empower you in your journey just as it has in mine.

  1. Choose well and choose now – Everyone is presented with choices. Positive change comes when your choices are made in the direction of where you aim to go. Reflect on how your choices have led you to this point in time.
  2. Stay in your lane – Remain focused on your goals, your dreams and what you need to do in order to achieve it by the end of the year. Run your race.
  3. Maintain a life/work balance – Do not take on more responsibilities than you have time for. Prioritise your life so that when you are in a position to deliver outcomes (e.g. in family, work, study and/or other commitments) you will be able to give your best. Schedule in time to rest and enjoy the company of family and friends. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Do not sweat the small stuff – Nit pickers will always be concerned with or find fault with insignificant details and usually they do it in a petty way. Shake it off and keep moving forward.
  5. In all things give thanks – Despite any hardship that you may face, you will always be able to find something to be grateful for. Give thanks regardless of the situation that you are in.
  6. Remember to laugh – Life is too short. Do not forget to take the time to laugh freely and loudly! #LOL
  7. Read Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Keep in prayer about all things. Have faith in God’s promise.

As stated at the beginning of this year, I will continue to feature special guests on this blog. Please keep an eye out for the next special guest. Thank you for reading and/or following. I truly appreciate it. If you have any questions about this blog, please send your email to creativetalanoa@gmail.com. Wishing you all the very best for the final six months of 2016!

Much love and respect,

MP🌺

Andrew Faleatua – Jazz Musician, Composer & PhD Candidate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney, Australia

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Andrew Faleatua is of both Samoan and European descent and comes from a family of 10 children. In New Zealand, Andrew completed a Bachelor of Music (2011), attained First Class Honours in Jazz Performance (2012) and completed a Master of Music with First Class Honours in Jazz Performance (2014) all at The University of Auckland. He went on to lead a number of jazz bands at venues around Auckland such as CJC (Creative Jazz Club), the Auckland Jazz and Blues Club, Lewis Eady and more.

Andrew Faleatua composed music for the cinema release of ‘Three Wise Cousins’ at the beginning of this year. At present, he is undertaking a PhD in composition/cultural studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney, on the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and the Anne Reid Memorial Trust Scholarship. Here he is fusing musical elements from his Pacific heritage with jazz to create something fresh and exciting. This, for him, constitutes a means of cultural identity expression as an “afakasi” – having one foot in the world of jazz and the other in a rich Samoan heritage. His vision is to lecture, help young Pacific people thrive in music at university and, through his Pacific jazz sound, demonstrate how Pacific traditions can afford uniqueness and power to one’s own contemporary sound irrespective of genre. It is this vision that propels Andrew Faleatua through his PhD studies and musical performance life abroad.

In 2015, Andrew Faleatua’s composition ‘Samoa Forever’ was a finalist for APRA best pacific song at the New Zealand Pacific Music Awards.  At the end of 2014, he was the headline act at the inaugural Samoana Jazz Festival in American Samoa. He also supported Iva Lankum who headlined at the Samoana Jazz Festival in Apia, Samoa.

In early February 2016, I had a talanoa session with Andrew Faleatua which took place in a café at Central Park in Sydney, Australia and I came away feeling inspired and empowered by the words and experiences that he shared. I am honoured and grateful to be able to feature him on this blog as a special guest. Enjoy the read! (MP = Maryanne Pale)

MP: Please share your thoughts on jazz music and what it means to you.

ANDREW: There will be different definitions and interpretations of what jazz music about; however, for me personally, jazz is a vehicle for expression. I believe that improvisation is at the heart of jazz. For example, in an ensemble, jazz can be likened to a group conversation where everyone listens to each other and communicates in their own unique way.  Similarly, musicians engage with each other thus producing a unique blend of music.

MP: I like your personal take on jazz music. So who were the people in your life who inspired you to get into Jazz music and why?

ANDREW: You know when you’re young and you have people that you look up to? Well for me, there’s a guy called Toma Amosa, he is a NZ artist and he works alongside David Dallas. Actually, the Amosa family are all talented. Back in the day Toma played the piano and he was good at it. I looked up to him as I was growing up and I used to look at him and think ‘this guy is mad’. At the time I was learning classical piano – I was probably about 13 or 14 years of age. Back then, he used to come over home and improvise on the piano and I remember watching him in awe and thinking ‘I want to be like to this guy’. So I used to be a little bit naughty and outside of classical piano, I would try and learn how to improvise on church chords etc.  I think from there it was kind of a natural progression into jazz because jazz includes a lot of improvisation. So over the years, I played classical piano and on the side I played in church which I think was an obligatory role as a Pastor’s son lol! It was at church that I would keep improvising. I think for me, Toma was the main influence – that’s how much I looked up to him as a youngster.

MP: So have you had the chance to tell Toma all this?

ANDREW: He will know now once he reads our talanoa lol!

MP: Lol! That’s pretty awesome! I am sure that Toma will be stoked. So how did you progress from there?

ANDREW: Well, when I arrived at The University of Auckland, I actually started a maths course. I was doing alright in the first year but I found that I was really passionate about music. So I decided to pursue my passion and I made the shift from the maths course over to a music course which led me to the jazz course. Learning how to play classical piano and being influenced at a young age to explore improvisation, by the likes of Toma Amosa and his family, I believe that’s what led me to enjoy jazz music.

MP: I am glad that you made the decision to shift from the maths course to the music course. It’s inspiring that you made the call to pursue what you are passionate in. At the time you were exploring improvisation, would you say that it was something that you would consider to be inherent?

ANDREW: I think so. It must have been natural because I can’t think of any other reason as to why improvisation resonated with me – it became a part of me. Actually, my Dad would always improvise on the guitar and he had done that since my siblings and I were babies. I remember when we would have family time and together we would sing. My Dad used to solo here and there and improvise on the guitar. That could be a contributing factor as to why I think that improvisation for me is inherent.

MP: Love it! So improvisation runs in your genes! That’s awesome. What keeps you motivated each day?

ANDREW: Lol! Yeah you are probably right! What keeps me motivated each day… Passion itself! I have a passion for music and I have a passion for creating something unique or creating something different. Leaving my unique stamp on the world – that’s what motivates me. Saying something that someone else hasn’t said before… something about that in particular motivates me to do what I do.

Also, knowing that I will have a family of my own one day motivates me and so Rachel is a huge inspiration in my life as well. I feel that walking alongside her, we have clear dreams and goals. Pursuing those things together is a really exciting thing. In the mornings and afternoons we would talk about how we are going with each of our careers and together we push each other as we pursue our goals. Also, thinking about the future, I know that I need a career that will help me to support my family – that’s another motivation.

MP: Inspiring indeed! Also, it’s great to hear that your wife supports you, works alongside you and together you guys make a great team.

andrew-faleatua-2ANDREW:  Yeah, she’s a huge source of inspiration for me. Another thing that motivates me each day is drawing from traditional Samoan music and trying to represent it in a way that is appealing to younger generations. For example, a part of my study is the sharing of cultural knowledge through sounds that draw attention. I want to present traditional Samoan music to the younger generation. I want them to know that you can learn a lot from your heritage and have confidence in knowing your identity and knowing who you are. I would like to instill confidence in the younger generation and say ‘this is who you are and this is the line that you hail from’.  I believe that when they become aware of that, they will then be able to navigate their way through life and carry their identity with that extra bit of confidence in who they are. So a lot of my work within my PhD includes consulting with traditional elders. I continue to ask the traditional elders ‘how can I respectfully draw from our traditions’.

MP: Yes, there is an importance in upholding the respect with our traditional elders. So what you are doing is great and I am sure that they appreciate your consultation process.

ANDREW: Thank you. I also incorporate the same consultation process with others whom I am privileged to work with. For example, more recently I have been working with Maryjane and Fred from Matavai Cultural Arts. I am creating music pieces for traditional dance i.e. slap dance and as part of the process, I consult them on finding respectful ways of incorporating Western elements of music with our traditional Samoan culture, and presenting it to the younger generation so that they can build confidence upon knowing where they come from. So that’s a huge motivation for me.

MP: The collaboration sounds really exciting!

ANDREW: Yeah I am excited. It will be something new for me. I wanted to first serve in the community here in Australia to show that I am trustworthy and that I have good intentions. So for 2016, the collaboration with Matavai Cultural Arts will be one of the projects that I will be working with and I am looking forward to the outcomes. I want it to be something new and different. I am hoping for the end product to be filmed and televised.

MP: That is fantastic! I love Matavai Cultural Arts and I look forward to it seeing how everything falls into place. So what else do you have lined up for 2016?

ANDREW: It will be an extremely busy year for me. I plan to have 3 album releases this year…

MP: Wait… 3 album releases this year?

ANDREW: Lol! Yeah, the first album is the soundtrack for Three Wise Cousins.

MP: Oh yes! I remember that studio session with the team and you guys have been working on it over the past few months. It will be a great soundtrack and I am looking forward to watching the movie.

ANDREW: Yeah that’s the one! You have to see the movie – it’s hilarious lol! The second album is tied to my PhD which involves producing a composition portfolio. I have conducted interviews to support my PhD work which outlines the process of composition. Basically it incorporates the traditional elements that I spoke of earlier. It will have a mix of traditional and contemporary music in different forms. Like some of them will have classical piano and some of them will have Hip Hop and R&B, and spoken word.  All these contemporary mediums of music are infused with traditional music which is a product of my consultation process with the traditional Samoan elders. As I mentioned earlier, I sought their advice on how traditional elements of music is produced and performed which is one of the outcomes of my research.

MP: I like how the composition of music and the production of an album will be among the outcomes of your PhD work. You have demonstrated your love and respect for your Samoan culture by consulting with the traditional Samoan elders and including traditional elements of music into your album.  So, what will the third album be about?

ANDREW: Thank you. The third album is more of a personal venture. People will need to watch this space. There is more to come lol!

MP: Lol! So all 3 albums are going to be released this year?

ANDREW: That’s the plan lol!

MP: Wow, that is a lot of hard work! How do you feel about it all?

ANDREW: I am thrilled but I know that it will come with its challenges. The only reason why I think I can do it is that with my experience in composing music for the movie Three Wise Cousins, I learned how to produce relatively quickly. I also have a few producers that I work with and I have a great team around me.

MP: Having a great team around you is pertinent particularly when delivering on competing deadlines. You are very determined and I am confident that all will go well. So 5 years ago, is this where you had envisioned yourself to be?

ANDREW: An honest answer – no lol! It’s funny actually. You know, as you are growing up people will ask you ‘what do you want to be when you get older?’ and you tell them about your dreams and aspirations. Well, what I have found is that as you gain new experiences your pathway may change and sometimes it happens unexpectedly. For example, as a jazz artist/pianist, I am now composing music for film and this is a new aspect of my journey. For the movie ‘Three Wise Cousins’ some of the musical compositions make up about 60 parts, similar to that of an orchestra. So I am a composer and I want to write across different sectors of society including writing for community engagement projects. 5 years ago, I didn’t imagine being as passionate and interested in music composition or music performance in a way that I am engaged with it now. Music composition, music production and generating theory through my PhD work – all of this has evolved into something far greater that I could have imagined.

MP: Wow. I see where you are coming from. You mentioned your PhD work. Tell me more about how it ties in with your musical composition and production.

ANDREW: Well, I am learning and writing about Pacific traditions for my PhD thesis which I view as a direct output so to speak. In other words, I am able to present the ideas that I have, in the form of a PhD thesis. Within two disciplines, academia and music performance, they intertwine which enables me to transform what I have learned and what I know into an output which an audience can read, see or hear. There is a synergy that I believe exists within theory, musical composition and production.

MP: I see… Speaking of synergy, I have seen a music video of a song which you and your group of musicians performed at the Samoana Jazz Music Festival a couple of years ago. What was that experience like for you?

ANDREW: Oh yeah! My experience in Samoa was a good one, particularly in the Samoana Jazz Music Festival. We performed about 10 gigs that year for Samoana Jazz Festival and it was over 12 days. The people who came to see us were really nice and they were supportive of what I do. I found working in Samoa really interesting because a lot of my work, as you know, incorporates traditional Samoan elements. I found that the when the locals heard my music compositions, they got it straight away. For example, at the end of a performance locals told us that they have never heard of the type of music that we performed but they could hear the spirit of the song, the rhythms and traditional elements that were familiar to them. We had some of the elders come up to us crying as well and their feedback was about how proud they were to see young people willing to go back (in history) to find the beauty in our traditions and present it today in a way that youth can relate to.

MP: It must have been empowering for you to be able to receive that feedback especially coming from the elders.

ANDREW: Yeah I was so stoked to be able to hear that from them. That was huge for me because I am still learning about the traditional Samoan music and I want the younger generation to learn about it as well.

ANDREW: There is this Samoan proverb that I want to share and it goes: “E leai lava se faiva e asa ma le mau mau”. Basically what it means is that “No fishing expedition ever goes to waste”. So a fisherman that goes out on an expedition and even if he doesn’t catch what he wants, he will learn something. For example, he may learn about the patterns of the tides. So, despite having a good or bad experience, there is something that you can learn from it or take away from that experience. For the younger generation, I want them to know that they are never going to waste anything if they are pursuing your goals or dreams. Whether or not they may be hitting the mark, I want them to know that they are going to learn something from that experience in the long run. So the proverb is referring to a skilled fisherman, someone who knows the ins and outs. So, as I said before, even when the skilled fisherman doesn’t catch his full catch for the day – he will always learn something.

MP: That’s a great proverb! How about yourself? Was there a time that you felt like you were not hitting the mark?

ANDREW: Yeah! I remember when I first started Uni, I had to audition and I was asked to perform a solo and I asked “What’s a solo?” lol! I improvised for them and I was accepted into the jazz course. At that time, I was in stage 1 with all the cats that had previously studied jazz and I felt like I was way behind in terms of music knowledge and performance in comparison to them. I felt as though I was disadvantaged and that was a period of my life which I found difficult. I was attending class and I was trying to keep up with everyone, particularly when it came to improv demonstrations.  I kept trying. I worked hard. I would go home and put extra hours in. It was challenging.

I had to keep reminding myself that I can do it and I had a positive attitude despite having to struggle through the course. I feel that it is in those moments of weakness that you have a choice to either work hard and speak positively which is really important, or just sit back and complain about it which I have found doesn’t work out in the end. Eventually by the end of my degree I was awarded by The University of Auckland as the “Graduate Scholar”. In other words, I received the award as the top academic of my year. From these experiences, I believe that there is no substitute for hard work.

MP: Wow! Your hard work definitely paid off!

ANDREW: Yeah but it wasn’t easy. I believe that if you’re passionate about something, even if you’re not the greatest, and you keep positive vibes around you, go for it and work hard! Before you know it, you will achieve your goals and you dreams will become a reality.

MP: That’s definitely inspiring. Well done on all your hard work. You continue to excel. What is a piece of advice that someone in your life has shared with you which has influenced your journey?

ANDREW: My Father, who is a church minister, is someone inspirational in my life who continues to speak into my journey even up to this very day. He has this saying which has empowered me over the years and it goes, “If you want to slay a Goliath, hang around the David’s”. And what this means is that everyone has a Goliath in their life e.g. challenges, but there are people who have slayed a Goliath before, so his advice is to hang around those people. Those people are the ones who will inspire you and give you the resources that you need. Hanging around the right people will have positive impact on your life. My Father’s advice has influenced me greatly. Relocating from New Zealand to Sydney, my Father’s advice still remains with me to this day. I have found the right people to work alongside, to learn from and to be inspired by.

MP: That’s powerful indeed! Final question, is there anything else that you would like to share?

ANDREW: Yes, I would like to pass on my Father’s advice to the younger generation. Work hard, dream big, and hang around the right people who are going to inspire you and not bring you down. Connect with people who are going to give you knowledge and wisdom that will help you slay your Goliath. We all need people around us to help us grow and learn.

MP: Thank you Andrew for sharing your Father’s advice and for addressing the youth and sharing it with them too. I understand that you are extremely busy so I appreciate your time that you have put aside for this talanoa session. Wishing you all the very best for 2016. I look forward to listening to the albums and seeing more of your projects unfold as this year progresses. Keep up the amazing work that you do!

ANDREW: It was my pleasure. Thank you for the invitation to share my experiences through talanoa. Best wishes to you also this year. Blessings.

To connect with Andrew Faleatua, please click on the following links:

www.andrewfaleatua.com

Andrew Faleatua – Facebook

The Three Wise Cousins soundtrack is now available online as digital download at:

www.andrewfaleatua.bandcamp.com

 

New Season – New Year

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Happy New Year! I trust that Christmas and the welcoming of a new year went well with your loved ones. It is great to be in a new season and a new year.

This blog was first created on 7th January 2012 and after a couple of name changes, it has remained as http://www.creativetalanoa.com. So it has been 4 years now! Yay! Time surely does fly by. Thank you to all who continue to read and follow my blog. I truly appreciate your support.

It is now exactly 2 weeks into 2016 and things are moving quite quickly which is exciting! This year will see new special guests featured on this blog and they will share with us some of their stories and experiences. (Please note that this is a community based blog so I do not get paid to feature special guests on this blog nor do I pay special guests to be featured on this blog. #JustSaying) 😄

If you have any feedback or enquiries about this blog please click on “Contact” (at the top of the page) and then complete your details. I would love to hear from you!

Enjoy the remainder of the week. I look forward to connecting with you on here.

MP 🌺

A Reflection In Transit

I drafted this blog post whilst on the flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia last Friday night (14th August 2015). Now that I have settled back into Sydney, Australia, I have decided to complete the blog post to share an update since my previous blog post was a few months ago.

My niece Bubba turned 6 years of age a weekend ago and I had promised her that I would fly to New Zealand to celebrate with her and our family. I am glad that I was able to do so. Bubba had such a blast and as a family we were happy that she enjoyed her birthday celebration.

The 8 days that I spent in Auckland, New Zealand was truly heart-warming to say the least. I was so happy to be reunited with my parents, my sister and her family, and I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with some of my extended family members and friends. It felt great to be home as I had missed everyone so dearly. During my visit to New Zealand, I had time to reflect on what has transpired over the past few months in Sydney, Australia and I would like to share some of those reflections:

  1. STAYING CONNECTED – I come from a close knit family and so re-locating from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia for work was quite difficult for me. I did not realise just how much I would miss them. Some days have been harder than others but I have managed to stay in contact with my family using different mediums which has made the distance more bearable. Staying connected with loved ones is crucial especially if there is an ocean between you and them.
  2. LIVING WITH PURPOSE – Before I re-located to Sydney, Australia, I knew that my purpose was to fulfill the role that I have been assigned to. In so doing, my time that I have invested in either activities or events has been aligned with my purpose. This has allowed me to stay focused on producing positive outcomes in both a professional context and on a personal level. Your life becomes less complicated and more exciting when you know and understand what your purpose is.
  3. CHALLENGING THE CHALLENGES – Challenges are inevitable in all aspects of our lives. I have learned to challenge the challenges that I encounter. For example, to deliver successful outcomes in a short period of time, I have challenged myself to put in the extra effort and to pay more attention to the finer details. You cannot expect excellent results if you have only put in minimal effort. Therefore, I challenge you to challenge your challenges.
  4. BEING PRESENT – I had someone who provided me with this advice: “Slow down, make time to be present otherwise you will wake up one morning and realise that you have missed the moments that truly matter. Make time work for you.” And so, I am learning to take this advice on board. I am learning to live in the moment. Sometimes we just need to let go from time to time and just be.
  5. STRIVING FOR GROWTH – Arriving at one goal is the starting point for the next goal. Learning is life long and my goal is to continue to grow academically, creatively and spiritually. I am enjoying this new path and as I strive to achieve my goals I know that I will continue to improve and progress. I am not perfect, I make mistakes but I will never give up. Recognising that there is room for improvement is a good starting point for growth and development.
  6. FINDING THAT BALANCE – At times life for me feels calm and I am grounded, clear-headed and motivated. Other times, I would find myself just completely exhausted and when I feel this way, I realise that there is an imbalance in my life. When this happens, I make time to rest, relax and rejuvenate. When you find that balance, you will feel happier and you will be more productive.
  7. KEEPING THE FAITH – As mentioned earlier, living away from my family has seen some days harder than others but I have faith that God’s plan over my life will supersede any challenges and/or obstacles that are and/or will be placed in my path. During my visit to New Zealand, my Uncle reminded me of the following verse from the Bible: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV. Not everything that presents itself will be simple, but the key things to remember are to continue to be courageous, to work hard and to keep the faith.

As the new week begins, I look forward to what lies ahead. I hope that what I have shared above has encouraged you in one way or another. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read this blog. I truly appreciate it! Until my next blog post, take care and make each moment count!

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Embarking on a new “PATHE”

Much has happened since my last blog post and I am happy to share some highlights that have occurred over the past 6 weeks. In mid-March 2015, I accepted a job offer as one of the new Project Officer’s for Pasifika Achievement to Higher Education (PATHE) at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. PATHE is an initiative that was developed in 2012 by Senior Lecturer Dr. Jioji Ravulo who is based at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, the University of Western Sydney.  

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PATHE is facilitated by the Office of Widening Participation and the School of Social Sciences and Psychology and it operates across three key components:  student support, outreach activities and innovative projects. The work delivered through PATHE support aspirations towards further education and training, and promotes the development and attainment of new skills and new knowledge for diverse communities. In addition, Pasifika university students actively participate in PATHE as interns, or ambassadors, or as attendees across the components mentioned above. It is important to note that in Australia, people who are identified as Pasifika include those of Māori descent as well.
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Saying “see you later” not “goodbye” to my parents and family members in New Zealand.

Receiving the job offer was definitely a highlight for me. However, it meant that I had to re-locate from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, and I only had 8 working days to do so. The excitement was all very real as I took a leap of faith. My parents, family and friends were all supportive of my decision to accept the job offer and they helped me with the transition from New Zealand to Australia which I am truly grateful for. It has been just over 4 weeks now since I have been living and working here in Sydney, Australia. 

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The 2015 PATHE team.

In my role at PATHE, I am responsible for the Community Portfolio and while it is still early stages yet, I can say that the experiences that I have had thus far, in the community, in schools, and at the different Western Sydney University campuses, have been heart-warming and thought-provoking. The feedback that I have received from parents is that there is a need for an initiative such as PATHE and that they appreciate the service that PATHE provides. Opportunities to help build capacity across the education sector and within diverse communities here in Sydney, Australia are plentiful and PATHE is an avenue to which such possibilities can be realised.  The work that I do within PATHE is aligned with the professional and academic goals that I have set for myself for this year. 

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PATHE Project Officer Jemma Fuka and PATHE student Serina Meafua.

A couple of weeks ago, at a training day for the PATHE Interns and Ambassadors, the university students who were in attendance shared their heart-felt narratives which resonated with me. Some shared about the sacrifices and hard-work that their parents, Grandparents and family members have made and continue to make in order to be of support. Others shared the challenges that they have had to overcome in order to pursue their aspirations. The narratives were reminders that the struggle is real but the will to rise above and move forward is more powerful. The entire day was a beautiful tribute to all our families who have paved the way before us.

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My niece Angela Pale on her graduation day with her Father Stanley Tukia Pale and her brother William. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Western Sydney in April 2014.

One of the highlights of living here in Sydney, Australia is that I have the opportunity to see the next generation of my family here in Sydney, Australia, strive for success in their chosen fields. Examples include: my primary school aged nieces Ana and Vasi Moa who have aspirations to pursue higher education, my high school aged niece Chantelle Latu who has a strong interest in the visual arts, my niece Daphne Vili-Pongi who has a passion for dance and performing arts, my niece Amelia Lapu’aho who has a love for the traditional cultural arts, my niece Christina Tupou who is in business management, my nephews Patrick Mataele and ‘Alofi Mataele who currently play club football, my nephew Daniel Tupou who plays for the Sydney Roosters, my niece Diamond Langi who is an international model, my niece Lisia Latu and my nephew William Pale who are currently working towards their degrees at Macquarie University and the list goes on… I have a huge family base here in Sydney, Australia and I am so proud of ALL my nieces and nephews. I have a teenage nephew who holds a special place in my heart, Kosimiki Latu, who is currently fighting his battle against cancer and each day that he smiles, we do too. I love you Kosimiki! I am absolutely blessed to be present in each of their lives at this moment in time.

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Some of my many nieces and nephews who reside here in Sydney, Australia.

If the past 4 weeks is anything to go by, then I am definitely looking forward to the new path ahead, within the context of work and in the context of my family life here in Sydney, Australia. Personally, the most significant highlight over the past weeks has been the reminder, in each day that has passed, that God is faithful. I believe that all of my experiences leading to this very moment was planned according to His purpose. I am truly humbled, honoured, and thankful for the pathway that He continues to prepare ahead of me. 

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Celebrating Youth Week at the Bring It On Festival. April 15, Sydney, Australia.

If you wish to find out more information about PATHE, please email me on:  m.pale@uws.edu.au

Or, if you wish to connect with me on other social media platforms you can do so on:

Instagram:  @ma_pale

Twitter:  @maryannepale

Flowers from Many Gardens – #HappyValentines

In my blog post A celebratory start to 2015! (click on the title to read), I mentioned that I received enquiries via email about a book that I received as a gift from my Father a number of years ago. The book is an anthology of poems titled: Flowers from many gardens (click on the title to read my initial blog post about the book). With Valentines Day just around the corner, I thought that this would be a perfect time to share a few more poems from the anthology. Enjoy! 

Happy Valentines Day

For love is a celestial harmony,

Of likely hearts composes of stars’ consent,

Which join together in sweet sympathy,

To work each other’s joy.

Author: Spenser

Life climbing seeketh Love;

Love climbs more high;

Life follows self-forgot;

Love clasps it, and it’s not;

Life lost in love is life beyond the sky.

Author: W.Woollam

But we’ve a page more glowing and more bright,

On which our friendship and our love to write;

That these may never from the soul depart,

We trust them to the memory of the heart.

There is no dimming, no effacement there;

Each new pulsation keeps the records clear;

Warm, golden letters all the tablet fill,

Nor lose their lustre till the heart stands still.

Author: D. Webster

The Art of Story-telling – Hinemoana Baker

In May 2013, New Zealand Author and Poet Hinemoana Baker contributed to this blog as a special guest thus producing a wonderful piece titled He Ara Kupu: Walking with WordsI was honoured and grateful for her time and for her art of story-telling.

For the past year, Hinemoana Baker has been the Creative New Zealand Victoria University Writer in Residence in Wellington. This position has allowed her to embark on a new project – a full-length novel titled Dear Mother Basillise. In order to complete this project, Hinemoana is seeking support. Please click on the video link below for more details:

Hinemoana Baker’s project is one that is truly heart-felt and it has moved me to show my support. I believe that her art of story-telling is deserving of your support too. Please click on the links listed below to find out how you can show your support:

Dear Mother Basillise – on Boosted

Hinemoana Baker’s Website

Malo ‘aupito xox