All posts by Maureen Unasa

Maureen Unasa is a contrarian Samoan woman unravelling life, love and culture through the art of Samoan weaving

Plastic Samoans

Winning the Sydney Telesa Spirit Women Art Competition with Lani Wendt Young
2012 winner of the Sydney Telesa Spirit Women Art Competition.

Wondering to myself how a plastic Samoan weaves her life into what it is now.

Plastic Samoan is not a nice reference in a nasty context. I use, “plastic Samoan” in distinguishing something for myself. I am no longer the immature black and white mind of a confused teenager. I am an open space. It allows me the freedom to weave with my hands and my mind.

Born in Samoa entitles me the rights of being a real Samoan, right?
Raised in New Zealand from the age of five exposed my mind to the unfair divide between black and white. Hearing conversations as absolute irrefutable truth in my community proved it so.

So it was.

It is true! A real Samoan has to work twice as hard because the world is unjust and unfair.

Being half caste (half Samoan and half palagi (white)) gives you a straight up silver spoon in your mouth. Half castes got some half privileges by default or mysterious osmosis.

This was my truth. This was my perception. This was how I acted. This was my world.

Being plastic meant, not real, a wanna(want to)be Samoan but white or vice versa Samoan but wanna be white. NOT ME. I was real to the bone because I was born on the land. I forgave you for not being born on the land if you were not wanna be white. I forgot. If you are related to me, you were in the safe zone too on my plastic radar.

And PLEASE. Can you not speak Samoan like the white man when you look like a Samoan.

Teenage minds do not need the points of views of a confused world. This is what I have distinguished. I give space to my children to see the world as their world. Contributing to their world creates the world they want for themselves.

Space to dissect and learn for themselves. Free of adult truths. Adults are children who age in numbers and years. Maturity is the age of wisdom and knowledge of life long learning.

Enter the age of political correctness and understanding overstatement. Cautioning against certain words such as black and white. Words only have power in a context. Words hurt and kill off when they are given reason to. Your context gives meaning and energises your words. Words in themselves do not make you feel or do anything.

FACT:No thing or person can MAKE you do anything.

Look at the intentions not the dots on the i’s and crosses on t’s of otherwise meaningless words.

Straying now Maureen. Back to being plastic. Yes, this is my point.

Comically, I realise that after all these years, I am a “plastic Samoan”. Birth and an average command of the mother tongue hardly qualifies my superior “Samoan-ness” to any other fellow Samoan.

My siblings and I were not raised in the practise of Samoan customs and traditions. My parents migrated to New Zealand with one very CLEAR objective. Education. I assert it was the same for many. Thank you for the opportunity of Western education.

Evolution over my long (almost) 40 year life has seen some collapse in customs and traditions, in my unqualified plastic opinion. Western influence a major player with no innocent pawns in this game. Evolution with an agenda. Everyone is innocent. No one is responsible.

Confronting yet no longer confused is my current perspective of the state of affairs that I am eagerly unravelling. Weaving is my current vehicle and self expression on so many levels.

Straying again Maureen. Lets lock this weaving up.

Tuiga weaving Elements of a Warrior
My winning entry for the Sydney Telesa Spirit Women Art Competition.

I am unravelling the beauty of my Samoan culture by embracing it’s evolution in a contemporary form.

A plastic Samoan can weave her own culture using contemporary ribbon. It is my “Samoan” and it is evolving with a transparent agenda. Love and fulfilment.

Elements of a Warrior (Part 2)

Brown and olive earth weave pale
Earth pale (crown)

Awakening my earth spirit brings forth my gratitude and love for our planet. I have taken on an as many little actions towards simple, sustainable and self sufficient living.

It is a challenge going against the norm. We are consistently being anaesthetised by media.

Returning home to Samoa seems like the only real option for me to fully own my stand for our planet. Just doing my bit and others can choose for themselves.
If only we were actually choosing freely.

Weaving air elements with white and silver curling ribbon
Swirling emotions with the air elements

Swirling emotions create unexpected delights through an outlet. My outlet is weaving and words. It is pure therapy.

I am seeing the importance of every individual having their own “thang”(thing).

When life gets all up in your face, your “thang” will take you through it. The “thang” has attitude. It’s your attitude. It’s your passion. No-one can mess with your “thang”. It’s yours. It’s what you use as your outlet. It’s constructive. It’s productive. It’s you.

Weaving flame element prototype Telesa Art Competition
Flame on 1: Unleash through weaving
Weaving fire element prototype 2 for Telesa Art Competition
Flame on 2: Don’t hold back
Weaving fire element 3 prototype for Telesa Art Competition
Flame on 3: Unleash your inner fire

Taking everything life throws at me and hitting back just as hard. Manifesting itself in my weaving. Festering NOT within me.

My life is my weaving and vice versa. They are not separate. It is my life. All of it.

My children, my committments, my family, my community, my world. It is all my life.

Weaving water element with blue and silver curling ribbon for Telesa Art Competition
Power of water generating life

Acknowledging my life. Accepting my life for what it is right now. What it is not makes no difference.

Going with the flow. Letting my passion generate the direction.

Embracing everything in this journey. Being at the source of my life. I am responsible for my life.

I have the power to generate my own my life.

Weaving and a mirror creates the water element for the Telesa Art Competition
Reflecting your soul

Take a good hard look in the mirror.

I am satisfied and fulfilled with where I am right now. It is perfect for me.

I have more to learn. I am willing.

My life is a reflection of who I am.

Weaving Earth Water Fire Air elements for Telesa Art Competition
The powerful force of a Warrior

I believe families cause world peace.

Stand for our families and the rest will sort itself out.

The Warrior stands because the Warrior is a powerful force within.

Be at the source and force of your life.