All posts by Maureen Unasa

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


Where it all began….

Demonstrating frugal probably tastes the same as premium, made budget in “budget coffee” an overstatement. At minimum I was hoping for drinkable.  This frugal demonstration could not crack a grin to bear the pain of it.  “Absolutely abhorrent”.  I do not waste much but one sip and I hoped it made a better drain cleaner as it went straight down the sink.

Desperation did not do it.  REDEMPTION would be the only cause of my temporary insanity.

REDEMPTION tastes bloody great with the “hazardous to your health” coffee ear marked for garden soil improvement.  Hence it was at the back of the cupboard. What’s worse than sh** coffee? That would be no sugar and no milk.  Hilarious way to celebrate a huge achievement. I think I found some caster sugar to help me out.

Sweet success swirling in the gorgeous aroma of redemption, temporarily disconnected my sensory judgement to contemplate crap coffee let alone drink it.

Absolute testimony to a well known truth of  “Success being sweeter than any reward”.

Refusing sleep on Wednesday 22 August 2012 4:02am, I wove the last strand of my first fine mat made completely out of 5mm wide gold curling ribbon strands. Two meters wide and one and a half meters long all completed.

Weaving the final strand of my first fine mat

Acknowledging myself then instantly slept deeply waking up at 7:30am. Oddly, I awoke to check if I had finished it or dreamt it finished. Our household was buzzing with excitement, awe, celebration and relief that morning.

Disbelief in it’s actual completion, not that it wouldn’t be, but just that it wasn’t something you normally wake up to. Oh yeah, “just finished weaving a fine mat”. It didn’t exist in our world and thankfully because of this art project, it is literally present.

Capturing my completed effort in all it’s glory eliciting fulfilment and satisfaction. A moment that is celebrated with a satisfying cigarette (nope I’m a non smoker now) or my second twitch fix…..a lovely cup of coffee-Moconnaaaaaaa (coffee machine still out of order arrrgh)

Celebrating success must really make all else insignificant in savouring this moment.


Redemption for my first experience in presenting fine mats at my Uncles funeral earlier in the year.  Never did I feel and look like a plastic Samoan.

Born in Samoa but absolutely clueless in the protocols. Raised to be respectful and successful left no room for Samoan culture.

Presenting a fine mat upside down with my other uncle present who was a high ranking church official-EPIC FAIL with a massive SAD FACE :(.   Sorry Uncles. I hope one of my uncles was laughing. (sheepish laugh)

PLEASE, can I just wrap myself in this upside down fine mat and roll out of the garage.

REDEMPTION IS SO SWEET…..If you fail at  presenting a fine mat, then make one.


My fine mat presentation

Inspired to Experiment…

Goodies for my biggest helper and my strong inner voice

“Inner voice” is the reassuring sweet voice of my gorgeous girl who constantly repeats, “Your waving ( how she says weaving) is bootiful (beautiful) mummy”.  Yes, my little voice outside my head patiently waits, entertains herself and then falls asleep close by.   She is also the annoying little voice that holds me accountable.  “Mummy, are you doing your weaving today”.

The voice that sorts my thoughts out.  “Why are you doing that for mummy?”  It’s been quite hilarious answering her and satisfying my thoughts at the same time.  I am so thankful for my little voice but only when we are at home.  Publicly, I can not squirm enough to be invisible with her innocent honesty.

Great inspiration comes from the heart I believe and she along with her siblings are mine.  My heart and inspiration.

Founded on a silent promise I made to each of them as soon as I held them and kissed their heads for the first time.  In that hazy moment of blissful ignorance-I whispered, “I promise to do my best by you always-I love you”.   It’s interesting how promises are tested almost instantly.  Yip, being a new mum four times over does not earn me any extra brownie points at all.

Sometimes doing my “best” looks like this…I love my world, It’s all me

Thankfully, I never made that promise to be perfect.  If you look up the word ‘perfect’ in my “Saving mums” dictionary, it says: INSANE or INSANITY.  To perfect being a mum or striving to be a perfect mum is the same and makes no difference.  Just do “MUM” the best that you can.  Often, I confused my best with perfection against the expectations of society.  Ironically, conforming to social expectation did stretch me for the better and so I am still grateful for the learning.  Now, I can just measure my own greatness and not against anyone else’s rule of what “should” be

Sizing me up was my little inner voice who encouraged greatness and accountability.  Hidden agendas were lost in the cute suggestions of possible weaving crafts which encouraged me to keep creating.  Hovering with her usual supportive ego stroking and not leaving my side until I had finished, was her commitment to keeping me accountable.  My little voice definitely knows how to get results and walk away with them too.

Latest craft: Hibiscus ring made Sept 8 2012

My gorgeous rose truly deserves her goodies! She has been my number one cheerleader in the last project.  If only she could make coffee (ahhhhh)

Completing the art project for the kid’s school has revealed that I have been selling myself short using “parent” as an excuse.  Parent is a role like other roles I have had in life which brings years of life experience and knowledge that I can share with and transform my communities.  I think they call that transferable skills in the workforce.

Being role models or examples for my children as an active participant in LIVING life is my most important role.  How better to demonstrate “living or following your dreams” than to have my children witness me actively pursuing mine.  Learning, growing and making loads of mistakes while they watch.  Active lessons instead of my constant nagging or lip service to the important lessons in life.  OK.  Constant reminding is my job as a parent.  It comes with the territory and also that big fat promise and commitment I made in the delivery suite.

Accountability aye….drives me in all directions.  Might as well have fun while doing it!

Hope you are all having a fabulous weekend.