One thousand ropes

Saturday night just gone I managed to sneak out for a rare date night with hubby, to see One Thousand Ropes. Tusi Tamasese’s much anticipated second film was a stark contrast to our usual “date night” choices of Marvel characters and romcoms. Dark and foreboding, this tale was far closer to home – yet still a tale of love and everyday superheroes. The experience of the movie began in the foyer of the cinema, riding up the escalator I could hear the unmistakeable cackle of Sāmoan laughter and on reaching the top I felt immediately at home seeing multigenerational family groups jostling for their popcorn and choc-tops. In Christchurch, where the Sāmoan population sits at around 4000, we were definitely statistically over-represented in that theatre. Outside of Samoa, the last time I remember a similar scene was when I went to see Sister Act 2 in Manukau City. It was this show of support from our community, which proved that there is a great sense of pride in the work of Tusi Tamasese.

One thousand ropes poster - image supplied
One thousand ropes poster – image supplied

Like Tamasese’s first movie The Orator, the majority of the movie is in Gagana Samoa with English subtitles. This has been no obstacle to success, after rave reviews in the Berlin Film Festival. As always there are moments when things are lost in translation, and moments where there is a nod to very Sāmoan humour. But don’t be like the couple who walked out after ten minutes, I would definitely recommend sitting through it. Wedged between my Māori husband and another non-Sāmoan I could see they were equally enthralled in the story. The fact that our movie snacks remained uneaten throughout the movie is always a good measure of the quality of the film.

One Thousand Ropes follows Maea, played by Uelese Petaia (you might remember him from the screen adaption of Albert Wendt’s Sons for the Return Home), who serves his community as a fa’atosaga (Samoan for midwife) and a baker whipping up the dough for keke pua’a (pork buns), pani popo, and German buns. Living a seemingly quiet existence, Maea is still haunted by his renounced violent past and an actual aitu or ghost – Seipua, who is played by Sima Urale. When his estranged daughter Ilisa (played by Frankie Adams) arrives suddenly on his doorstep she asks why he allows this aitu to stay, and he replies that as he has no wife, she keeps him company. The supernatural world is very much a part of our culture, and seeing Seipua hunched and wheezing in the corner of the living room, brought back very vivid memories of stories my mother would tell me as a child.

For me as a New Zealand born Samoan, Maea represented the beauty and the darkness that our older generation often carry with them. The shadows of domestic violence, our attitudes around childbirth out of wedlock, postnatal depression, abuse, and alcoholism have turned the indigenous knowledge and some of our most celebrated traditional practices into very heavy burdens for Maea. These themes weighed heavy on my mind all weekend as I tried to process this thought-provoking, and powerful piece. But on reflection, I realised that it was through the straddling of both the Western world and the Sāmoan world, and the guidance of her father that both young Ilisa and Maea find their strength.

How much will you identify with this movie? What will you see? Whatever it is you take from this tale, it is definitely one you can’t miss.

Still from One thousand ropes. Image supplied.
Still from One thousand ropes. Image supplied.

Relevant Samoan resources in our collection

Samoan Language Week 2017 runs from Sunday 28 May to Saturday 3 June.

Beat those change-of-season sniffles

Cover of Living the healthy lifeAutumn has arrived suddenly and those cool mornings and nights are playing havoc with our bodies. Boost your immune system with some good info from our:

Or search our catalogue for specific health terms.

Local groups with a health focus

Make sure you have plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise, keep warm and retain social contacts. If you’re in an at risk group, you may be able to get a free flu vaccine.

Winter is coming!

My kind of food by Valli Little

I was super excited to get the chance to review Valli Little’s latest cookbook My Kind of Food.

As an avid eater (but a rather basic cook who loves to experiment) it sounded right up my alley. My hopeful assumption was that the title would mean there would be no En vessie or Tiger lily buds involved?

Cover of My Kind of Food

Thank goodness I was right.

One of the first thing’s that grabbed me when I read the introduction was Valli’s ‘flick test’,

Basically, I flick from the back of the cookbook to the front and if there aren’t at least ten recipes I immediately want to go home and cook, then the book does back on the shelf.

What a great idea.

So I employed Valle’s ‘flick test’ and nearly all of the recipes passed and I wanted to immediately run home to my kitchen.  It certainly helps have unbelievably drool-worthy photographs of every single recipe.

I seriously could have eaten some of those photos – pg. 51/53 Cheat’s lemon cheesecake (this is divine, and is now one of my go-to recipes), pg. 54/55 Salted caramel mousse with toffee popcorn, pg. 66/67 Spring pea risotto, and so many more.

What I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are all Valli’s family favourites, so they have been cooked again and again with all the tweaks made along the way. Each recipe is accompanied by a headnote, explaining where the recipe came from, and how it has become a family favourite.

All of the recipes are easy to follow with good descriptions; there is nothing too outrageous in the ingredient or technique department, but you still feel like you are producing something special.

It is organised by occasion like “Sunday Best”.  The index also offers the option of looking up an ingredient, then listing all of the appropriate recipes.

The recipes are all mostly classics with a modern twist added; like Scandi mac & cheese, a basic recipe of macaroni with cream, grated cheese, salmon and a few other easy ingredients; or Lamb shank cottage pie, yummy lamb shanks with winter vegetables and an easy assortment of sauces/pastes to add flavour that you can even make it two days ahead; and Store-cupboard trifle, perfect for when you just want to use easy ingredients, it uses tinned peaches and store bought sponge, right on.

I would definitely recommend adding trying My Kind of Food if you enjoy classic food with a modern twist that the family will love.

Tania Cook,
Outreach & Learning team

My Kind of Food
by Valli Little
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780733335273

Find more titles by Valli Little in our collection

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Hopukina!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Catch it!

akina te reo rugby

Multicultural Expressions of Islamic Art

CMCT Islamic Arts ExhibitChristchurch has been making news recently for its fantastic street art, but our city holds many more artistic treasures that are not so easily seen by the majority of our residents.

This week this will change! South Library is privileged to be hosting Multicultural Expressions of Islamic Art, an exhibition of items and images that belong to the multicultural Muslim community in Christchurch. The exhibition will be running from Sunday 2 April to Sunday 9 April.

The display is organised by the Canterbury Muslim Community Trust (CMCT) with support from Creative Communities NZ.

Ruqayya and Nick, a couple of the trustees from CMCT, kindly answered a few questions about the display.

How does Islamic art differ from the art forms normally seen in Christchurch?

Islamic arts are quite distinctive and they are not restricted to paintings, sculptures or even religious objects as you would expect in other traditions. The idea is that art should be incorporated into everyday life.

There is a quote that sums up this concept, basically that as ‘Islam is integral to every part of a Muslim’s life and makes it beautiful, so [too] Islamic art should be used to make the things of everyday life beautiful’ (Z. Hussain). So most of the objects we’ve included in this exhibit are items that we use to decorate our homes.

What are some of the basic concepts of Islamic art?

The basic concepts of Islamic art transcend time and space, as well as differences in language and culture, but there are also regional differences in interpretation. The Muslim community in Christchurch includes over 40 different ethnic groups so we hope to show some of that difference in diversity.

We have grouped items into four broad categories: Architectural Arts, Calligraphy and Written Arts, Textile Arts, and Decorative Arts.

Calligraphy is a major art form that is used to decorate buildings and everyday objects, but geometry and vegetal or floral patterns are also common themes. These are represented in all four of the categories.

Wall hanging of Surah from Qur'an Embroidered red cushion Syrian Inlaid Qur'an Stand

[images supplied, copyright CMCT)

What are some of the items that will be on display? How were they selected?

To start with we didn’t really know what items people would have, so we put out a general request for anything that had special meaning for them or represented traditional arts encompassing an Islamic aesthetic. It has been really interesting to see what turned up!

We will be showcasing displays of calligraphy. We have several examples of a verse from the Qur’an produced in embroidery, wood carving, carpet and papyrus painting. There are also photographs showing Islamic designs in architecture and henna art as well as modern art.

In the display cabinets, we will group items according to their use so there will be a section on textiles with examples from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Maldives. Also, beautifully decorated metalwork, traditional jewellery and even examples of incense burners and Arabic coffee pots, as well as many other items.

What motivated CMCT to put on this display?

Muslims are often in the news for all the wrong reasons so one of our motivations was to show a different side to Islam. We want to emphasise some of the beauty and diversity in Islam. It is also a fantastic opportunity to educate the wider public about some of the items that have meaning to us. We have prepared some posters and short descriptions to help people understand more about the objects on display.

CMCT were fortunate to obtain some funding from the Creative Communities grant which is covering the costs of setting up the exhibition. It has helped to bring the community together to collect and produce some of the items on display. We have some very talented people out there and we’ve had a lot of fun putting it all together.

The items will be on display in three main areas of South Library. Photos, paintings, calligraphy and wall hangings will be displayed along the far wall; household objects including metalwork, ceramics, textiles, personal items and religious items will be housed in the glass display window. Check out the foyer display for posters explaining more about the different categories.

Find out more about Islamic art

Cover of Persian Art and Architecture Cover of Palace and Mosque Cover of Islamic Art and Architecture 

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to admire the beauty of Islamic art.