O a’u o le Samoa moni.

Pe o fea o lenei lalolagi e te aumau ai,

e te manatua ai lou atunu’u moni

Samoa, no matter where you are in the world, Samoa will always be home forever.

E i loa le Samoa moni i lana tu ma lana tautala.


You can tell a true Samoan by behaviour  and speech.


I recently returned from Samoa with my eldest son for a family funeral.  I reflect of the song by Vaniah Toloa, Samoa e Maopopo mai.

Vaniah sings about the Pacific Duck known as the Toloa and shares the analogy between a Samoan and the Toloa. Wherever the Toloa migrates, eventually they will find their way back home to Samoa.


I last visited Samoa in 2011 with my cousin and sister and before that I had brought my boys over for my auntie’s funeral in 2008. Each time I return to Samoa, it is like the song. The smells, the sites, the language and the people remind me that this is who I am.


Samoa was truly gorgeous and pristine. The border rocks had all been whitewashed, The malae were swept clean and of course the colours were super bright.


I caught up with several members of my extended family, Aiga Lautele and met some of the next generation that I had not yet met. Meeting them was really special because knowing who your family is is part of being Samoan. ‘Ta te aiga.’ is an expression I heard a lot when I was growing up, so much so that I started tracing my genealogy just so I could connect who exactly members of my ‘aiga’ were.


My son did most of the driving so I was able to enjoy the view. We visited where my mother was born in Tafitoala and predicted where their ‘fale Samoa’ would have been but has now been reclaimed by the sea. Again reminding me of Global Warming affecting the pacific islanders who have contributed very little to Global Warming but are affected the most.  


I was able to tick off To Sua off my bucket list, number 47.

If you use Google Street View, you can see To Sua from a 3D perspective.

One of my cousins informed me that the trench is where sharks used to give birth. I am not sure how accurate that is. However I am glad I knew that after I had been swimming around in the spot.

My son and I visited a few tourist spots such as swimming amongst the Giant Clams and revisiting Papaseea. However the focus for our short trip was family so much of our time was spent with family and reminiscing on life in general.  


Weight loss versus muscle gains equals empathy.


Those of you laughing with me and know me well will know I have put my goal out there in regards to my health.

So at this stage there is not much shift on the weight dial. But I am fine with that. I am lifting heavier weights and my cardio workout is at that stage where I can understand the dials of the treadmill, bike and rowing machine and I can now kind of concentrate on form.

I have not yet learnt to love cardio but look on it as a real workout. I still love the weights and will do that over cardio any day.

So today I set a goal to do a complete cardio workout. I completed the bike and treadmill reps but did not quite complete the rowing reps. However at least I increased on my previous best.


Yesterday I carried out a full weight training session and 2 new machines were added to my regular reps. So today I want to share my reflection about empathy.



As I work out on each machine, I have a coach who comes by, calls me by name and checks in to how I am doing. He or she adjusts my form and encourages me to push myself as far as my body can take it. I know that it is at delicate balance where I take the leap of faith that I can do this that change takes place within my body. I think about myself as a teacher and a coach for others and wonder about the strategies I use with learners to get that same balance so that they can take a leap of faith in their own abilities. I believe that when we are in the same situation as a learner we can empathise so much more with our learners.

So far I am a learner of Chinese so that I can better emphasise with my language learners, I am a learner at the gym so that I can better emphasise with teachers learning digital systems, I am a coaching learner as I am still practicing strategies learnt so that they come more naturally. I am learning how to use Hapara student management system so that I can empathise with our teachers who create workspaces for their learners and understand the amount of learning they go through to manage their students digital learning environments. 

I guess that until we are in a situation that we ourselves find the learning so hard, there is no way we can emphasise with the learners we work with.

This week has been an overflow of learning for me and yet at the same time I feel satisfied that I have achieved a lot.

So like my cardio workout today, I survived the week at school with sweat and a good workout. Both are not perfect and yet I am happy with the outcome. Yes I can do better and yes I did not achieve 💯output in both areas but I can see results in both.    

Wahine Toa


I was having a recent chat with one of my favourite online educators Marnel, @1MvdS .

She asked me what my goals were for 2018. 

Each year I set goals for myself. Each year I reflect on my progress.

Personal Goal

This year I have a massive personal goal and that is to be healthy. At this stage I have not consolidated my professional goals. They are still coming.

I visited our family doctor during the holidays and he gave me a good kick up the rear end. I guess I needed to hear this from a medical perspective. I told him I was walking a regular 10,000 steps a day as I had my fitbit to keep track. He informed me that that was obviously not enough for a woman of my current stature. He pointed out to me that if I kept gaining weight at the speed I have been I would explode when I turned 60.


OK, so first things first I booked into an assessment clinic who works with a weight gym. My doctor told me to get an assessment done and to move from there.

When I think with my SOLO Taxonomy brain I am prestructural on my health because I need to be told what to do.

So it has been nearly a month since I began. I have been an average of three times each week. Yes I am doing weights and love the strength training. I am also doing cardio and hate that part of my training.  I have prioritised my week to get it done and at this stage am only there because I have to be and am accountable to my doctor who is checking my progress in 3 months.

excuse (2)

I am learning to say no to others as my health is more important than being of service at this stage. I have been thinking about my energy being a half empty glass and trying hard to focus on that glass being refillable by changing entrenched habits.

So where to next? You will hear me mutter about having to go to the gym, You will hear me complain about finding long lost muscles. You might see me shelving the cheese and crackers for apples and water in our staff room. (Sometimes). However be supportive and be like my fabulous weight training instructors who encourage me, always greet me and address me by name and continually adjust my training so that the workout fits me perfectly.


Ronald Reynolds

Ronald Frederick Reynolds

17 October 1927 –28 October 2017


On Saturday our beloved father passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving four daughters. He had said goodbye to us all including his grandchildren. On the 2nd of November we celebrated his life.

( Just to be clear, this was not just written by me but by all of us including my brother in laws. This section was my part in the service and family overseas have asked for it.)

Our father, Ronald Frederick Reynolds was an incredible dad, grandad, father-in-law, brother, son, uncle, friend, and mentor.  He was loved and adored by his wife of 60 years, Katie, his four daughters and all eight grandchildren.  

He had one older sister, Shirley.

Dad had a long successful career as an accountant and auditor and yet still maintained his sense of family.

Details of facts

He was born on the 17th October 1927 to Emily Victoria and Frederick William Reynolds in Rangiora Public Hospital just out of Christchurch.

Like many of his age his early memories also included growing up during the “depression” a very difficult time for all families.  However, he described his early childhood as humble but happy, growing up with his sister on his family’s apple orchards in Loburn with his parents, Grandma and Grandad Saxton.

As a child, those around Ron called him ‘Snow’ because of his white blonde hair.

His Father, Fred, loved fishing, if you can call catching white bait and using it as fertilizer on the vege garden fishing.

Fred also loved to hunt rabbits, but young Ron wasn’t so keen on this – he hated seeing the dead bunnies.

He also remembers how he and Shirley would go into the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch.  To prove his fishing prowess to his sister they made little fishing lines with sewing needles and fished for goldfish. Of course this was a no no and they got caught, ending the day with a hiding from Dad

Our father developed a love for the outdoors; tramping and sailing. He learned to sail on Lyttelton Harbour at a very early age and continued sailing for most of his life.

His mum used to coach basketball for North Canterbury.

While watching one game, the basketball bounced into the side-lines and hit dad in the face breaking his nose. Dad never learned how to dodge balls. At Intermediate, while playing hockey a ball to the face reshaped his otherwise perfect smile.

Sadly, when Dad was 17, his mother passed away. This was near the end of the Second World War. Everyone was celebrating but he and Shirley were miserable.

At 24, our father was an Accountant working for Nottingham & Son Chemical Manufacturer. It wasn’t long until he felt trapped in the system deciding that he couldn’t bear to be entrenched in this job for the rest of his life.

As luck would have it, he saw an advertisement for the Samoa Audit Department – he applied and won the position arriving in Samoa in 1953 by flying boat. He worked there as an auditor for the NZ Government.

Two years passed before he returned to Christchurch to catch up with his dad, new step mother, Eth, and step sister Joan.  

In 1956, Katie returned from Europe and Ron first clapped eyes on her at Treasury.  She was the new Charge Typist. His initial reaction was “Where did she spring from? What a beautiful girl.” And then described her as “a very uppity young lady with a posh English accent.”  

Dad got her attention by flicking her typewriter return. Not sophisticated by any means but it worked.

A year later Ron married Katie signing their wedding certificate with red colouring pencil.  Now for the serious work – Kathie followed 9 months later, Astrid 2 years later then Sonya.  At this point we were always told that they were going to stop – we don’t know who convinced whom, but mum always wanted a brown eyed, dark haired boy. Enter Biddy.

Even though mum and dad didn’t have a son, we had brothers. First came Patrick, then Peter and finally Fred.  They all became very special to our parents.

As a family in Samoa, we have many happy memories of dad including;

  •      Yacht Racing every Sunday on his 14-foot laser yacht when he was not in Savaii,  
  •      Picnics on the other side of the island, usually on a Sunday after church,
  •      We loved Salamumu, and on the way back would swim in the fresh water pools at the top of the Mafa Pass or visiting Papaseea (Sliding Rocks).

His Datsun station wagon, our main form of transport, on those bumpy roads, lasted well indeed.

Over the years, our dad built up a business working as an accountant / auditor in Samoa.  He also spent time helping businesses start up, including Apia Bottling Co, Polynesian Airlines just to name a couple.

In 1973, all but our dad, immigrated to Christchurch, because his family lived there. Dad kept his business in Samoa and commuted.  

He was then heavily involved with Polynesian Airlines.  We remember him making trips to the Boeing factory in Seattle to buy aircraft for the fledgling airline.  To occupy his spare time in Samoa, he would train with the Manu Samoa team by jogging up Mt Vaea.  

Our life in NZ changed from Sunday picnics on the other side of a tropical island to tobogganing in the snow at Porters Pass, swimming in the Ashley River or at Taylors Mistake.  Dad was always behind the camera and insisted on taking our photos .

In 1981, Dad finally left Samoa the island he grew to love and moved back to NZ for good. He joined Lane Walker Rudkin finishing his work life there and retired with mum when she turned 60.

They spent their golden years playing golf, travelling and having adventures such as camping at Totaranui, travelling around Canada via camper, going to Bali, the Gold Coast of Australia, driving to Foxton to visit Shirley or visiting his grown children and taking delight in his many grandchildren.

Our parents moved to Auckland in 1995 to be closer to their grandchildren.

Dad continued with community service and was the Treasurer for the Lion’s Club – during December you would often find dad and mum selling Christmas cakes.  He also helped with Senior Net and regularly ran sessions on using Spreadsheets.

Our father loved his sport, particularly rugby. He was never one eyed. When Canterbury played they had to win and when the all blacks played they had to win, except of course when they played Manu Samoa.

He would often be found glued to the television with the rugby, netball, hockey, or the America’s Cup.  

Ron was a healthy old fellow.  He learned to ski when he was 50, bungy jumped in his 70s and right up until his early 80s was still playing golf, driving, walking, swimming and fixing things.  

One of these fixing activities saw him fall from the 2nd storey roof of his house and bruise his internal organs. We thought we might have lost him then as he was in hospital for several weeks – but he mended.

In 2008 when he was 81, our father took a trip to Australia to meet his long-lost cousins for the very first time, a highlight for our dad.  We are so grateful to them for creating a great memory for Dad.  

Ron cherished his independence fiercely, but finally agreed to move in with me so we could help him with mum.  The move in 2013 was not easy for both dad and mum because they were so used to their independence and they knew their bossy daughter well.  But with Kathie’s less than gentle determination, I returned home from a trip away to find my house taken over by… Parents!!

The last four years have been happy times as together we looked after dad and mum at home:  I was on night shift, Kathie on day shift and Astrid doing all the grooming, medical appointments and running around.  

This year saw a couple of milestones for dad:  the first was his and mum’s 60th Wedding Anniversary in May and just 2 weeks ago, his 90th birthday.  He has had such a full life and we were very lucky to have him as our Father and to see the role model of a loving husband for our mother.



I read a wonderful tribute by Michael Field  to one of the most amazing academics that I met during my teaching career. Reading the tribute brought back a flood of memories.

His name is Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi 

I knew him as Tupua and that is how I addressed him. As a child growing up in Samoa we knew the Tamasese family name because they lived up the road from us. My younger sister went to school with one of the boys. I also knew his name because he became prime minister of Samoa a few years after we emigrated to New Zealand.

As a young teacher I was so fortunate to get to first get to know  him when he agreed to be the plenary for our 2002 Ulimasao Bilingual Education Conference in Auckland.

I set up his webpage and this is what I wrote about him.

“Tupua studied law at Victoria University, New Zealand, before embarking on a long career in Samoan politics that spanned almost four decades to the present.  

He became prime minister twice, during which he had been an influential voice on issues concerning Samoa and the Pacific region. Part of Tupua’s present profile is his active involvement in scholastic learning, in his enormous capacity as an experienced politician and man of letters. Tupua has published three books, two in the Samoan language. Occasionally, Tupua is a guest lecturer in Victoria and Auckland universities respectively. Always in high demand for his views as a prolific bilingual speaker and scholar.”

He was our conference dinner speaker and the title was,  ‘In search of Meaning, Nuance and Metaphor.  I was the one chosen to introduce him when he spoke at another session. I was determined to do it in Samoan and so I did. I had heard the term tama’āiga to describe him and presumed it meant like an esteemed family member. However later on I realised how much more of a title that is.

I believe it was this speech that caught his attention because after that he made a point of making me sit with him and talk when I was serving him tea. As is typical Samoan he asked,  “O ai oe? O ai lou aiga. Fea lou nu’u?” (Who are you? Who are your parents and what is your background?)

When he found out who my mum was, then the stories began. He told me that he did not live far from her in Moto’otua where my mum grew up. We shared names and he told me that he knew my aunty Marina and her family and my cousin Patrick who still lives in Moto’otua. He asked me how come I could speak Samoan and I told him that mum insisted on us speaking le gagana at home even as we grew up in New Zealand. I also shared how I actively look for opportunities to speak and listen to Samoan such as through songs or on the radio. He asked me about church and I said that was more of a challenge because mass was always in palagi. He suggested that I  look for one that has a Samoan mass and even if I attended at least once a month to just listen and so I did.

Whenever I found out he was speaking in Auckland, I would find a way to get a ticket to hear him speak. He is an inspirational orator. I really admire him because of the way he instinctively knew that I wanted to practice my Samoan and would converse with me only in Samoan. My vocabulary exploded every time I heard him speak.

When I was in Samoa for the second Ulimasao conference in 2005, he asked me to introduce him to our travelling New Zealand plenary speaker Professor Stephen May and again it was about making connections. He wanted to learn more about our work with Bilingual Education. My cousin Tanya suggested that we sit in the front bar at Aggie’s Hotel and it was a perfect spot because the two academics had a chance to speak with each other and share their stories and of course I had a chance to just sit and listen.

During the time too of our second conference a group of us were invited to his house. My Aunty Marina schooled me up on etiquette before I went. This visit was where I met his beautiful wife, Filia for the first time. I also found out that she is a writer and orator too. Her work is where I got the inspiration for the header of my blog. (Lookup and you can see it.) From her I learnt all about the importance of service as a leader. Filia put on an incredible spread for us of traditional foods and we sat around talking and sharing stories. Again I was in awe sitting with the academics listening to their stories. However on reflection I can now see the importance of always growing the next generation. Again that is something that I now find myself doing.

What struck me most from that visit was the collection of photos that he had documenting Samoan history and the high balcony around his house.

Soon after that my Grandmother Matala’oa passed away and Tupua wrote a heartwarming tribute for her that we read at her funeral. I was so grateful that he took the time to commemorate our own family treasure. I have included this below.

Matala’oa Thompson    (Tusia e Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese _ Samoa – 16 May 2004)

O le matua o la’u fe’au: o le faiva o le Matala’oa e tiu ma afifi.  Pe atonu o le mafuaaga lea o le suafa o le tama’ita’i;  ona o le muafetalaiga e faasino iā Falealili, o se tasi o nuu o le latou aiga.  Ma e masani ā ona faatūtū i le alofa o le matua e faamaopoopo ma aputi lona faiva aua le fanau ma le aiga, o loo faatali mai i se nuu e mamao i uta.

Sa ou iloa Matala’oa ona e nonofo i ga’uta atu o lo matou aiga.  E masani ona usu mai i le taeao i le Misasa i Mulivai ma toe fo’i i lo latou aiga.  Ae ou te le’i mafuta tele i ai vagana ona ua matua.

O mea nei ou te mātauina.  E tāua iā te ia le gagana Samoa.  E tāua iā te ia, o ia o le Samoa. E ma’eu lana gagana aemaise sa ou manatu, ona e nofo i le papalagi ma e nonofo ā lo latou aiga i Leififi, sa fa’ita e ave le faamuamua i le gagana Peretania. E ola lona mafaufau ma e ma’eu lona taofi o mea sa tutupu, tainane ua matua ona tausaga.

A talanoa mai, e talanoa lava o ia o le tinā faamaoni.  E talanoa fiafia ma sanisani.  O le talanoa a le tinā o loo teu afīfī le faiva e faasoa mai i lana fanau.  E le gata i ē na ifo mai i lona manava, ae soo se tama fanau a Samoa.

Ou te manatua pea ia i lona talanoa mai faale-matua iā te a’u.  Ma ou te manatua fo’i lona igoa ma le muafetalaiga e fai iā Falealili:  O le tiu a le matala’oa, e tiu ma afīfī.  Ou te lagona ma le agaga faafetai, o a’u o se tasi o tama fanau Samoa na ia faasoa mai i ai lona faiva.


When Tupua became Head of States of Samoa in 2007 and Filia his Masiofo. I thought about how appropriate this was because they are keepers of our stories and our history. When you read Michael’s Tribute you can see how far Tupua’s spread is. In keeping with Samoan tradition I also think about Filia because behind every successful man sits a strong woman. I also see their time serving our beautiful island as part of our our Samoan genealogy.

To both Tupua and Filia I wish you all the best in your golden years and I look forward to more of your writing and talks. You have so much to share and we still have a lot to learn from you both.




Mum,  me-2 years old, dad and my older sisters.

“E iloa e le tagata lona tulaga i upu e te tautala ai.” quote from Matalaoa. 

I was born and bred in Samoa. My mum is Samoan and my dad is Palagi. That means I am afakasi or half caste, literal translation. I am super proud of being Samoan so much so that I received my Malu 10 years ago and yes I am a fluent speaker. 

Tūrangawaewae has been part of my life for most of the week as I have learnt about some distant cousins. I believe that the more I find out about my family’s past and heritage, the more my own identity changes and evolves. These holidays I have been learning more about my Samoan family. Those of you who know me, know that I am actually more than afakasi and know what an incredible mixture I have in my genealogical makeup. For me there is no Samoan term to describe my blood except it is fabulous. This is one question I should have asked Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa when she was still alive. She used to always provide me with historical terms to describe modern day developments. My favourite was ‘Fau o le Upegatafaailelagi’ – webmaster. (Builder of the net in the sky.)

I have been super excited from my recent Facebook family connections. I always believe that each social media has its place and to find the purpose for it will encourage use. Well this past fortnight I have lived and breathed it as I have connected with relatives of my generation, the last of my mother’s generation through their children and starting to know the next generation. I have learnt more about the term ‘usugagafa‘.  I have managed to piece together so many gaps of our puzzle. I have retrawled Papers Past and again have uncovered a treasure trove of information. Everytime I go on the archives get better and better. Those of you with Samoan Ancestry will find heaps of information. It is still very Eurocentric yet I have managed to find many of my Samoan ancestors mentioned.  

I created shared Google Draw documents and invited branches to add their information. This has worked superbly well. The flood of photos has given me extra excitement and pleasure as mum and I have poured over faces and had some amazing bonding moments. Through her I have learnt a little more as well about her. 


This year my dad turns 90 and this year it is my parents 60th wedding anniversary. I have been working on my dad’s biography for a few years now and this milestone will give me the incentive to pull everything together. 




In January 2016, I chose Whānaungatanga as my #oneword2016. I wrote a blog post setting 5 goals around Whānaungatanga, family, community, learning Mandarin, health and well being.

When I reflect on my 2016 year my goals have been nailed  and I feel content that I have developed growing understanding around my goals. My own understanding of Whānaungatanga has deepened and I thank Nathaniel  @nlouwrens for setting the challenges last year to help with #EdBlogNZ.

This year my #oneword2017 is Tūrangawaewae.

I have chosen this word because I believe that if you know who you are and where you come from then you are more in control of who you want to be and in choosing the paths to take to get there. I am actually at a stage of life where I feel contentment. I am happy in my work and with my home life. I give enough service to the education community to fulfil who I am. My sons are grown and I am proud of who they have turned out to be. My health is good but there is always room for improvement. By focussing of Tūrangawaewae. I want to identify and reflect on the spaces and people who help shape me. I have written about Tūrangawaewae previously and knew straight away that I have identified my oneword for 2017.


This year I will continue with Mandarin and take it into a second year. Yes I have passed HSK level 1 but if you throw a formulaic expression at me, I still feel tongue tied so want to move into basic proficiency communication.

Aging Parents

I want to continue taking care of my aging parents and acknowledge that is this really a family commitment and not just my decision so will continue the dialogue with my sisters. This year my dad will be 90 and I would like to complete his story with photos in preparation for this massive event and then start mums one.

Personal Health

My fitness levels have definitely improved this year and now to work on making healthier food choices. I love my bread by really must recognise the damage that this is having on my health.


This year as an Across School Leader for the ACCoS community I am aiming to grow the online community into a vibrant place for sharing and discussion.

Blogging and Presenting

I would like to aim for a weekly blog reflection post. I am just about there but maybe if I consciously put it out there then I will do it. I gave many presentations in 2016 and for this year I will consciously focus on co- presenting and even co-blogging.


I have missed running TeachMeetNZ using Google+ Hangout and would like to run another session sometime this year with teachers from our school or in the ACCoS group. I am aiming to sit my level one Google Certification, something long overdue.


I am also really keen to travel more and will need my sisters support for this one as someone needs to be with mum and dad while I am gone.


Just on a sad note, I will be attending a funeral for a young man who died tragically. He was a friend of my younger son and oh so young having just turned 21 years old. As a teacher our students can touch our lives in many ways. I was his first teacher in that I relieved in his class the day his teacher was away.  He came right out and said who are you? I explained the circumstances of why I was in his class for the day and after that if I was out on duty he would come looking for me. As the years passed he became part of our family and would call all my sisters as aunties and my parents as Grandma and Grandad. But would still call me Mrs Van Schaijik and I never corrected him to using my first name. Events like this can remind us the importance of family and friendship. I watch my own son devastated by the event and know that this is one Christmas he will never forget and will be a marker for him for the rest of his live.


Just to finish with, if you are looking for an amazing place to spend a day then visit Tiritirimatangi. It is a small island in the Hauraki Gulf. Soon we will visit this incredible space for our Teacher Only Day. I haven’t quite convinced staff to come and stay there with me. For me Tiritirimatangi is one place that I feel incredibly connected to and that is what Tūrangawaewae istiri




The specialness of 3


In my family, I am one of fours daughters. Here in Auckland three of us we look after mum and dad. In my house we have three people living. They are mum, dad and myself.

In the past my house had three people living. They were my two sons and me.

This Christmas my sons spent Christmas with their dad. However circumstances change and my youngest arrived on boxing day.

I have a new set of ‘kids’ to look after and this year I put up the Christmas tree for them.

Mum helped me decorate the tree and then likes to sit in her chair and watch the lights. On Christmas eve I took her to mass and as usual the best part was singing the carols. That and her coming out to claim kisses from the parish priest. He was so sweet and teased her right back and even responded to her in Samoan.

On Christmas day we celebrated at my older sister’s house. She had her three children with her as they have all been traveling the world.

Also there with mum and dad was my my other sister. So again this Christmas us three sisters were together.

There is no way I can look after mum and dad myself so with their help we are able to have them with us. Yes there are challenges and there is also a lot of laughs and special times. This post is really about my sisters because they do a lot for me and I often need to remind myself that I have come this far through their ongoing support and help.

As soon as school finished I took off to my island of sanctuary Tiritirimatangi while my two sisters took over the evening care of our parents. I usually spend three nights there and this always allows me to feel like I have had a break so I came back refreshed.

Last night I had family arrive from overseas and again the number three popped up as they greeted each of us with three kisses.

I finished the night skyping with my cousin and aunty and took a screen shot of the three of us talking.

This morning mum and dad and I will have breakfast. Just the three of us. Then later on, us three sisters will be together again.