Keep Exploring – Polynesian Style

Watch the last sunset for any given day on the western edge of Savaii

Samoa is considered to be the heart or sacred centre of the Polynesian Triangle encompassing Hawaii in the north, New Zealand in the south and Easter Island to the east.  Our Polynesian ancestors, who left their origins in the region near modern day Taiwan and Philippines,  taught themselves to navigate and explore the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean a good half century before the Vikings ventured across the Atlantic. Each of the island cultures within that geography expresses the rich Polynesian culture in their own unique way and Samoa is no exception.

Here are another ten ways to immerse yourself in our culture and take a piece of Fa’a Samoa home within your heart:

Enjoy Samoan dance – the Siva performed so gracefully by young women or the slap dance (fa’ataupati) and the spectacular fire knife dance performed so energetically by the young men of our community.

Zita Sefo Martel dances an impromptu Siva in Berlin for Polynesian Community

Be enchanted by the deep harmonies of Samoan music whether they be love songs and ballads sung around the fire at night or hymns of praise sung heartedly in church on Sunday.

Learn to appreciate the generosity of the humble but ubiquitous coconut tree whose fruit, fronds and trunk have sustained life in Polynesia for millennia. Weave a fine mat or basket under expert instruction; skin and crack the fruit and  let its juices dribble down your chin; shave the white flesh and mix into a cocktail, blend into a sauce or make into a cream; or use the delicate copra to light a fire for an outdoor feast.

Enjoy the peaceful waters of the lagoon protected from the dangers of a powerful Pacific that thrashes and rages on the coral at the lagoon’s edge. 
Paddle a simple outrigger canoe carved out of the fua fua tree or learn to spear or net a fish for dinner.

Ocean Going Canoe

Learn the secrets of “wayfinding” the ancient skill of island navigation without any form of instrumentation and explore the rich culture associated with ocean voyaging.Track the progress of ocean-going canoes that provide an opportunity for Polynesia’s youth to reclaim their maritime heritage.

Study the intricate patters applied to tapa and learn of the skills in making bark cloth, mat and basket weaving.

See past the spectacle of tattoos to the sacred reality behind  – tataus are not fashion adornments but represent a sacred covenant between the person receiving a tatau and mother earth. Their patterns depict the nature of that relationship and the obligations that the wearer has to the community that nurtures them.

Participate in a village feast and watch the preparation and cooking of food in a traditional umu (an oven made of hot rocks) and, if invited, participate in the ‘ava’ ceremony.

Attend one of Samoa’s hundreds of churches. Regardless of your religious faith, listening to the natural harmonies of village choirs and the cadences of an impassioned pastor lecturing his flock in Samoan provides memories that many visitors speak of affectionately and enthusiastically.

Enjoy the humour and gaiety of Samoa’s fafaines – young men who prefer to dress and behave as women and lifestyle is protected and celebrated.

Watch teams of rugby players, kirikiti (Samoan cricket) and Fautasi (longboats) practice for their races. If you are really lucky, you might get an insider’s view.The following video was taken in June during a practice run by the crew of Segavao – the Fautasi that went on the win the Faustasi race on Independence Day, 2010.

 

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