Letter to the Otarians
I get it all the time.
The jokes about living in Otara then the
“no offence “
after every punch line
“oh that’s ok… dickhead
Is what I should reply
The jokes are lame, always the same, can never shake off the label
Its all just part of the package
of the Otara fable
I know this is pretty long winded
But here’s what I’m tryna say
And if there’s anything that I want you to hear
It’s this statement I’m about to relay
If they hate us
Then that’s their problem?!
But if we let them make us hate us
Then that’s our problem
Because Otara wasn’t built on hate
Otara was built on Hope
Don’t believe the hype!
-That we’re just “a shopping hub for buying dope”
My parents, maybe your parents, came here from the islands
to work and build a future
and there is nothing wrong with that
But what is wrong
is that they read
“you live in nothing more than a ghetto”
on New Zealand’s welcome door mat
Yeh, we know Otara is a place where flash may not be the priority
But at least, in Otara you can be brown and proud
and not just be ´a minority’
You wanna know what urban-polynesian-cultural- hybridity is
Then Otara is the authority!
Malcolm X once said, “Who made you hate yourself?”
So let me lay down a challenge
and I hope plants a seed that is true
Let the haters hate
But don’t let them make you hate you
And with your God given talents Make!
The most of
your uniqueness and
your Otara flavour
that is YOU!
My Fa’a Samoa
For a very long time I saw Fa’a Samoa like this
It burnt holes in Dad’s pockets and bound him like handcuffs on his wrists
In the 70s I saw Fa’a Samoa like this
It left us kids hungry and angry and disciplined with violent fists
It would never encourage or embrace
Ha! Sometimes it came in the form of Aunties who criticised our patu house
and called our non-samoan speaking a DISGRACE!
Our Fa’a Samoa never wallpapered our house..
Never carpeted our floor…
Never filled the holes in the wall left by Dad and the stress of raising 8 kids when we were poor!
I RODE ALONE …
in that ambulance with Mum and her bloodied face…
exposed to the shame when the Police…would come ‘round to our place…
I was only 7 years old….
And my heart STONE COLD …
against this Fa’a Samoa that my parents would uphold
For a very very long time, and many years, I saw Fa’a Samoa like this!
I hated the money it took from us..
NO STOLE from us leaving my family helpless.
But…..that was when I was a child and now I am an adult…
And things have changed somewhat
Now I look at my silver haired parents
I am forced to look back…
Because I find myself overcoming hardships and struggles
there’s something I DON’T lack?!!
I see traits in me of my dads’ diligence
and I can muster the same fiery deliverance
in the words my mum would say…
I can write words smooth like milk and honey…
because I was educated in the land of the white Auckilani…
paid by the sweat off my parents back
in the years of yesterday….
I wear their Fa’a Samoa like a cloak of brown skin
in meeting rooms and on business trips
to look colleagues in the eye without flinching…and speak up and direct!
…through my Samoan full lips
It’s my voice that won’t be silenced
my stickability to commit to the path that I chose
My driving force and my refusal to get stood over…
and smash down doors in my life that are closed!
SEE…..I DON’T KNOW HOW…..
but now I understand?!
what my parents sacrificed just to make me
PROUD of who I am….of what I am
and that there is no more shame
that I don’t look or speak the same
as the white girl with the blue eyes and blonde hair
who can’t dance
BUT IT’S in the knowledge that my life has been built on….
my parents Fa’a Samoa and this GOD given chance….
It took me a very very long time
in fact HALF of mine and almost all of parents lifetime…
no longer their decision but mine
to see Fa’a Samoa….like this.