Book on Samoan accomplishments

A book on life in Auckland and how Samoans are contributing to its development without New Zealand government support was launched yesterday.

Titled “Island Time: New Zealand’s Pacific Futures”, its author Associate Professor Damon Salesa said he wanted to highlight the potential and possibilities of Pacific people who live in New Zealand and how they connect with Pacific people in the Pacific, especially Samoans and how they are huge assets to New Zealand. 

“But New Zealand hasn’t always realised this. People say that island time is late. People who are late to all these are actually not the islanders, they figured it a long time ago that there is a huge number of Samoans in New Zealand and the world is changing. It’s actually the palagi people who didn’t figure out that they were living in island time and that island time didn’t wait for them, it just went ahead,” he said in an interview with Samoa Observer at his book launch at the National University of Samoa.

“So this book is to tell New Zealand some of the amazing things Samoans have accomplished inside New Zealand without New Zealand Government’s help and how they are sort of pointing to a different future.” 

There are eight chapters and research carried out to collect data and statistics were done through connotative method of research, participant observation and studying the rise of Pacific businesses in New Zealand, between two to three years.  

“I decided to write the book, but not just a book for academics but I’m hoping it’s a book anyone can read and I actually went with a publisher that made it inexpensive so that people can buy it,” he said.

 “A big part of the book is about Auckland, which is described as the largest Samoan city and the second most spoken language in Auckland and so it is this wonderfully Pacific place, but actually the palagi people in Auckland choose to live far away from Pacific people, so it’s almost like two cities. Part of the book is telling this to New Zealand.

Damon said few of the chapters refer to segregated cities – palagi and Pacific cities. 

“A lot of that is to explain to New Zealanders how that happened because many of them pretend it didn’t happen and you can see it. If any of the readers have been to Otara or Mangere, you go to the town centre, you don’t see any palagi; you might as well be in Samoa or Nuku’alofa.

“One chapter is telling a story about the Pacific economy and how the Pacific people, especially Samoan people have managed to make their living when they have the lowest paid jobs in the fewest economic opportunities. What I am saying is how they’ve made all sorts of innovations to survive, for instance how they share housing, child care, they live in extended family groups, and as well as looking at innovative business opportunities in things like the film industry, drama.”

Damon concludes the book with a look into Pacific politics in New Zealand. 

“One place that Pacific people are successful in is getting elected, so for instance there are nine Pacific politicians in Parliament, far more than Asian population. 

“How have they done this? So what we’ve seen is Pacific people have figured out a way to get elected, so they’ve been far more influential in New Zealand Government, although there are more Asian people in New Zealand then Pacific people. 

“But Pacific people through their political influence have actually made sure there are initiatives and some government policy to enable good things to happen to Pacific people,” he added.

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