Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby: Not sir by chance

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby was given a knighthood for his service to Māori on this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He is known by many names: Papa Hec to some, Hector to others. And now Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby. You may not have heard of him but it is a name you should know.  His name is known all over the Pacific for his huge contributions to the revitalisation of celestial navigation, as a master carver, Te Rarawa elder, a font of cultural knowledge, for the revitalisation of waka building and waka hourua (double-hulled boat), as kaitiaki of Waitangi waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, and as he man responsible for the first return journey of Māori to Rarotonga by traditional methods after more than 600 years.

In February, I was extremely lucky to attend ACE Aotearoa’s Hui-Fono (an annual conference for Pasifika and Māori educators working in the Adult Community Education space) in Te Tai Tokerau – the Far North where we got to hear Sir Hec speak at his beautiful home in Aurere. Turning onto the Doubtless Bay Road after Te Awanui if you are heading north, you drive a few kilometres to the turn off to Aurere. There is no sign. Just a bridge that leads to a dirt road. Our two coach buses crossed that bridge, and although we couldn’t see the bridge under our bus we were assured that it was safe as Papa Hec was a bridge builder before he retired to carve waka and learn celestial navigation.

About two kilometres up the dirt road, we came to a clearing. A grassy hill, bordered by a warehouse, a carved whare, a waka hourua resting under a tarpaulin, and a house that had been extended several times looking out onto the expanse of the Doubtless Bay Sound.

On top of the emerald green, grassy hill was a ring of pou. And inside the ring was a group waiting to welcome us on. Papa Hec sat in the middle on a seat next to his golf cart. The scenery was breath taking. When Papa Hec began to speak his reo was so fluid, initially our group of over 100 sat far away from him. But as his sharing continued we crept forward mesmerised by his kōrero, and even when the Northland skies decided to sprinkle us with rain we still sat there listening intently.

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting next to his golf cart
Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting in his special chair next to his golf cart

The circle that we sat inside was actually a compass. Each of the 32 pou, set 11 degrees apart represented a direction, and when he began to swivel in his chair we realised that through his own design Sir Hector had manufactured a seat centred in the middle of his compass, complete with adjustable sights to study the night sky. It was here that Sir Hec began to study celestial navigation guided by Master Navigator Mau Piailug who came to stay with Sir Hec at Aurere to teach wayfinding and navigating using the sun, stars, clouds, other indicators of nature, and the importance of finding true north.

32 pou on a hill at Te Aurere
32 pou on a hill at Aurere

I came away from Aurere, the lucky winner of a copy of Sir Hec’s biography written by Jeff Evans. I devoured that book, hungry for more and inspired by the ability of our ancestors to traverse the largest ocean in the world with ease. The things that are shared in that book made me realise that our hour with Sir Hec shed very little light on his amazing achievements and contribution to navigation worldwide.

Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography
Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear such a man speak in person at his beautiful home in Te Tai Tokerau, and we as a community that spans the Pacific Ocean are immensely grateful for your efforts and willingness to share your knowledge and inspiration to find our true North.

Thank you Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Ngai-Iwi Busby.

Find out more

Jan-Hai
Libraries Learning Specialist

Karamia Müller: Sharing Gagana Sāmoa

Sunday 27th May kicked off national Sāmoan Language Week, with each of the main city centres hosting a service at a nominated Sāmoan church. There will be loads of events happening across Christchurch (the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website has a national events calendar).

Cover of How do you say thank you? by Karamia MüllerThis year the national theme for le Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa is “Alofa atu nei, alofa mai taeao.” Kindness given is kindness gained. To incorporate the themes of alofa (love and kindness) and ‘āiga (family) into our activities here at Christchurch City Libraries we are shaping our Tala mo Tamaiti (Storytimes sessions) around a picture book called How Do You Say ‘Thank you’? by Sāmoan author Karamia Müller. We were lucky enough to get permission from Karamia to feature her book for the week, and to catch her for a moment in her very busy life to have a quick chat to find out more about her writing and her life outside of writing.

Karamia was born in Honiara in the Solomon Islands. Like many peoples of the Pacific, her Sāmoan heritage is influenced by the many islands of the Pacific, with her father being raised in Fiji, and her paternal grandfather being brought up in Tonga. It was the pull of family settled here in New Zealand that led to Karamia’s family settling in Auckland.  She is the youngest of five siblings, and a proud aunty to three nieces and 4 nephews who range from 5 to 11 years old. A creative in many ways, Karamia is currently completing her Master’s thesis at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland.

Author, Karamia Müller. Image credit: Penny Sage
Author, Karamia Müller. Image credit: Penny Sage

As is common with many New Zealand-raised Sāmoans Karamia was not brought up speaking Gagana Sāmoa exclusively. And like many of us who are not allowed the privilege of speaking our own languages for different reasons “this absence was felt profoundly.” Being the younger of her siblings, her mother spoke Sāmoan to her older sisters but Karamia has had to take on the learning of Gagana Sāmoa as an adult.

It was this learning journey that inspired Karamia to write How Do You Say ‘Thank You’? After finding that her learning style was not suitable for learning languages, she wanted to share her technique with others with similar learning preferences through the navigators in the book Alofa and Filipo. Karamia acknowledges that as a Samoan, speaking Samoan is important to us all. She is not only working on developing her proficiency in Gagana Sāmoa, but also looks to utilise Indigenous Pasifika themes and titles wherever she can in her architectural practice and scholarship.

When I first started to ask Karamia questions she assured me that she was “quite boring”, but after speaking to her I felt nothing but awe and inspiration.

As a parting gift for our readers I asked Karamia if she had a favourite Sāmoan proverb or ‘alagā’upu to share. She didn’t have one but when I told her about our theme – “Alofa atu nei, alofa mai taeao.” She shared her perspective: “This means to me that we can never run out of kindness because as much as we give, we receive. Which I think is a lovely way to think about kindness. I shall keep that in mind myself when I feel stressed or unkind! I think is my favourite, so thank you!”

Thank you Karamia for sharing with us. If you or anyone you know is also looking to improve your Gagana Sāmoa or begin your learning journey we have plenty of resources to get you going here at the library. There are also some excellent courses in Gagana Sāmoa for adults at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Ia Manuia le Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa! Happy Sāmoan Language Week!

Find out more

Jan-Hai Te Ratana
South Learning Centre

Podcast – Youth suicide

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

The latest episode deals with youth suicide. New Zealand has high rates of youth suicide, especially among Māori and Pasifika populations.

  • Part I: Sir Peter Gluckman (Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor)
    Youth suicide statistics in NZ and elsewhere; possible reasons; the importance of providing supportive contexts for young people.
  • Parts II and III: Jackie Burrows and Tanith Petersen (He Waka Tapu) and Wesley Mauafu (PYLAT – Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation). Possible reasons; situation among different ethnic groups; situation in post-earthquake Christchurch and Elements for youth suicide prevention initiatives – sport, music, support, etc.

Transcript of the audio

Find out more

Cover of Suicide awareness and preventioncover of Spin by Dylan Horrocks Cover of Y do u h8 me Cover of Breaking the silence Cover of Sorrows of a century Cover The Roaring Silence A Compendium of Interviews, Essays, Poetry, Art and Prose About Suicide Cover of Twelve Thousand hours Cover of After the Suicide of Someone You Know Information and Support for Young People Cover A Practical Guide to Working With Suicidal Youth Cover of Alcohol information for teens

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

SPACifically PACific Polyfest Canterbury 2018

This Saturday I’ll be heading down to the former residential Red Zone in Dallington (on the corner of New Brighton Road & Locksley Ave) with my kids in tow, picnic, rug and chairs for the biggest annual specifically Pacific event this side of the Cook Strait. Saturday will see 730-odd performers from 19 secondary schools from Nelson College all the way down to Ashburton College take the stage to showcase the hours of hard work they have put in to refining every last movement and note.

Polyfest 2018 school performance times

This event has grown from strength to strength in the past few years with the hard work of some very dedicated teachers, parents, volunteers and agencies. The Pasifika population holds the youngest median age in the diverse populations of New Zealand, so it is best fitting that our Pasifika youth celebrate this on stage.

For a taste of what to expect you can view videos of performances from previous Polyfests on YouTube.

Make your way down to the red zone and expect to have your senses assaulted as you witness the graceful movement, rhythmic drums, enticing scent of warm coconut buns and chop suey, and the “chee-hoo!” of Pasifika celebration. Check out the performance order to make sure that you don’t miss out on your favourite group!

Find out more

Jan-Hai Te Ratana
South Learning Centre

Tusiata Avia – From poetry to prose

I recently went to a From Poetry to Prose book talk featuring Cover of Wild dogs under my skirtTusiata Avia at the WEA here in Christchurch, as part of their October Writing Workshops.

She talked about how she has gone about making the transition from poet to novelist. Ashamed to admit I wasn’t familiar with her work, I was inspired by her forceful writing combined with a very relaxed attitude to life.

She read from her upcoming first novel and from a poem in Wild Dogs Under My Skirt which have the same characters and the same domestic abusive dynamic. Wonderfully engaging, she performs the characters voices so well that I found myself lost in the story.

Tusiata Avia is Christchurch born, of Samoan descent. An acclaimed performance poet and children’s author, her work has also been published in various literary journals. Her first collection of poetry, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, was published in 2004 then taken to the world as a one-woman poetry show between 2002 and 2008.

Pacific female authors are so lacking in long fiction which makes the wait for her novel that much more anticipated!

Find out more

Tokelau Language Week – Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau 2016

Mālō ni. It’s Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau -Tokelau Language Week from 23-29 October.

Tokelau is a group of three coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. The population of Tokelau is about 1,000. The language of the Tokelau is related to Samoan. More than 7,100 people of Tokelauan heritage who live in New Zealand. There are approximately 80 people of Tokelauan heritage living in Christchurch.

This year NZ Post are issuing a special set of stamps for Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau.

If you would like to know more about Tokelau and it’s language, we can help you.

And, don’t forget to say “Mālō ni”.

Niue Language Week – Vagahau Niue Week

Niue Language Week – Vagahau Niue Week celebrates the culture and language of Niue. According to Statistics New Zealand data, there are approximately  23,883 people of Niuean heritage living in New Zealand. About 495 people of Niuean heritage live in Christchurch.

By 2014, the island country of Niue had a population of only 1,190.  To prevent Vagahau Niue (Niue language) becoming extinct The Vagahau Niue Trust was established. One of its roles is to celebrate Vagahau Niue Week. This will be held from 16 October to 22 October 2016.

The goal of the week is, “Ponataki, Tukutaula ke Mauokafua e Vagahau Niue –
Bind, Anchor to Firmly Uphold the Vagahau Niue”.

It serves as a national platform for raising awareness of Vagahau Niue. It aims to ensure Vagahau Niue speakers use, maintain, retain and develop Vagahau Niue within families, communities and households.

Niuean greetings

Malotele Stevens-Polata who works at Aranui Library has some suggestions of a few Niuean greetings to try:

Hello (Informal) – Fakaalofa atu!

Hello (Formal welcome to a group) – Fakaalofa lahi atu kia mutolu oti

Goodbye (Formal) – Kia monuina

Goodbye (Informal) – Koe kia

Thank you, everyone – Fakaaue lahi kia mutolu oti

Library resources

We have a selection of books for adults and children. We also have books about Niue.

We have eResources that you will find useful:

The Human Rights Commission has created a page for Niuean Language Week and has links to resources such as a poster of Niuean words and phrases.

Do you know anyone from Niue? Have you greeted them with “Fakaalofa atu“? You did? Thank you, you have helped save the language.

Celebrating Cook Islands Language Week 2016

Kia ariki au i toku tupuranga, ka ora uatu rai toku reo
To embrace my heritage, my language lives on

Sunday marked the start of Cook Islands Maori Language Week (31 July – 6 August). Cook Islanders make up the second largest Pacific Island group in New Zealand (behind Samoan) and there are more Cook Islanders in New Zealand than there are in the Cook Islands. Despite this Cook Islands Māori does not even register in the top spoken languages in New Zealand. Cook Islands Māori has been identified as one of UNESCO’s endangered languages.

There are several different dialects across the Cook Islands and the Pukapukan language has a very strong Samoan influence. Cook Islands Māori is very similar to Te Reo Māori, Hawaiian
Maoli, and the indigenous Tahitian Ma’ohi language (as you can tell from what they’re called).

Cook Islands Language Week 2016

To celebrate Cook Islands Māori Language Week, and highlight the resources we offer in our network, four libraries will be hosting paper tivaevae craft as an add-on to their regular sessions.
These are as follows:

  • Wednesday 3rd August : Aranui Library – Rocket Club – 3.30-4.30pm
  • Thursday 4th August : Linwood post-Storytimes – 10.00am
  • Te Hāpua post-Storytimes – 11:30am
  • Saturday 6th August: Shirley Super Saturday Storytimes – 11:00am

For more information see our events calendar.

If you would like to celebrate Cook Islands Language Week try a few of these phrases….
Kia orana = Hello (literally, “may you live long”)
Aere ra = Goodbye
Meitaki = Thank you
‘Ae = yes
Kare = no
Tane = man
Vaine = woman
Manea = pretty/handsome

Meitaki Ma’ata (Thank you very much) & Happy Cook Islands Language Week!

Find Cook Islands language resources:

Jan-Hai Te Ratana
Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

Cook Islands Language Week 2015

Hibiscus flowerCook Islands Language Week – Te ‘Epetoma o Te Reo Kūki ‘Āirani celebrates the languages spoken by the people of the Cook Islands; Cook Islands Māori, the Western Polynesian language Pukapuka, and the distinctive mixture of Cook Islands Māori and English spoken by the people of Palmerston Island.

In 2015 Cook Islands Language week will take place from 3 – 9 August. The theme for Cook Islands Language week this year is –

To tatou reo tupuna e korona ia no to tatou matakeinanga

Our language is a crowning glory of our community

2015 is also the Cook Islands’ 50th year anniversary of self-governance in free association with New Zealand.

Celebrate at Christchurch City Libraries

Cook Islands Māori Storytimes at Aranui Library

In conjunction with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Aranui Library will be hosting a community event in the form of a Cook Islands Māori Language themed storytime on Thursday 6 August, 11am-11.30am.

Our Resources

Check out our Cook Islands Language Week page for sound files of basic Cook Islands Māori greetings and words.

Cover of Cook Islands Māori alphabet bookSearch our catalogue for Cook Islands Language resources –

Pasifika newspapers now online

The digi-boffins at National Library of New Zealand have been hard at work adding even more great historical newspapers to their Papers Past resource, and just in time for Samoan Language Week they’ve made some historical Pasifika newspapers available.

The recently added Samoan material is from the following newspapers and years –

Advertisement, Samoa Times and South Sea Gazette, Volume 2, Issue 65, 28 December 1878, Page 1
Advertisement, Samoa Times and South Sea Gazette, Volume 2, Issue 65, 28 December 1878, Page 1

They’ve also added a bunch of other new material including a few more years’ worth of Canterbury’s Sun newspaper which now covers 1914-1920.

Read more about what appears in the Samoan papers (including Robert Louis Stevenson’s birthday party and the Samoan equivalent of “Game of Thrones”) in this fascinating blog post from the National Library website.