Corned beef, dognuts and representing the Western Springs

I went to Pasifika. Man, it was hot. Ideally I would have gone there with an entourage holding a parasol over me and fanning me. Instead I had to make do with a sun hat and fanning myself with the information brochure.

As usually, there was plenty to see and do and eat (including fresh dognuts). I was on the look out for arts and crafts, and ended up getting a ceramic jandal.

One of the stages had an open mike singing situation. One singer came up and had this banter with the emcee.

Emcee: And where are you from?
Singer: (In a loud, proud voice) Yo, yo, I be representing Westside! Yee-yah!
Emcee: All right. Whereabouts out west?
Singer: (Sheepishly) Um… Massey?

I came a across an area where some guys were having traditional Samoan tattoos chiselled into their legs and backs. It looks so painful, but none of the guys showed any signs of pain. In fact, the most painful part of the experience was the improvised rapping coming from an nearby stage.

I was handed a flyer for an upcoming movie called The Tattooist. It’s a thriller about an American tattoo artist who rips off ethnic designs, but learns a lesson when he steals a Samoan tattooing tool and angers the gods or something. It sounds AWESOME.

At one point I felt really dehydrated so I got a drink and made a beeline for the nearest shady tree. While I was resting, I heard a song being performed about how, yo, everyone should get drunk in the ghetto, and that you don’t stop until it comes back up.

There were heaps of parody T-shirts there. I couldn’t decide between “Samoa’s Most Wanted” and “My Uncle Can Smash You”.

I ended up with a sunburnt neck (a red neck?), so I was glad when an air-conditioned bus took me to Newmarket, where I saw the delightful and charming “The Science of Sleep” in air-conditioned comfort.

Samoan dude

Handling of the jandal, and other tropical delights

I went to Pasifika today. Walking to Western Springs, the weather had a bit of that autumn chill, but as soon as I got to Western Springs, it was hot, hot, hot – just like in the islands.

As I wandered around, I learned the following things, which surely did enhance my life as a citizen:

  • Immunise your kids.
  • Don’t set your house on fire.
  • Know your rights as a tenant.
  • Get some daily exercise.
  • Enrol to vote.
  • See a doctor if you’re really sick.
  • Don’t beat your kids.

Actually, I’m not to sure about that last point. I mean, when a slogan says “Kids are unbeatable”, is it anti-violence or pro-procreation (or both?)? And what does one make of a T-shirt that says “Physical Education – Can you handle da jandal?” Do kids who get smacked around grow up to be proud of this to the point of wearing a T-shirt about it?

As has happened in the past, I knew I’d reached the Niu Sila village when I heard a fellow singing a mediocre version of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” It was open-mike time on the stage, and people were invited to come up and sing the karaoke classic of their choice. I <3 New Zealand so much sometimes.

There were many food stands around the place, most of which were offering roughly the same selection of food. I noticed that chop suey, or sapasui, was a common menu item, as was potato salad, which might actually be called "mayonnaise". And to round off such a meal, there was a wide variety of those brightly colours fizzy fruit drinks that everyone loves.

Photos of the action are to be found here.


I went to the Pasifika festival. There are (at least) two kinds of people who go there: people who pronounce the festival’s name “paa-see-fee-kaa” and those who pronounce it “p’sufukuh”.

It was really crowded, to the point where it was annoyingly crowded, but I read that next year it’s going to be held over the entire weekend, so that ought to lighten the load.

I arrived just in time to see the Deceptikonz performing. They mentioned something about Ja Rule, which makes me think they may have done support at the Ja Rule show last night. They performed “Fallen Angels” last, and as the song started up the kids sitting near the front of the stage screamed and cheered. I saw a bit of Ill Semantics, but they always seem to be lacking something when they perform live.

The area was divided into different areas for each country. I found myself in the Niu Sila area. Last year it was called Aotearoa and reggae music was playing. This year there was some American R&B blasting. It was a little depressing that my home country had a Family Planning Stand, a bunch of food stands and nothing much else, but then I realised that I was there. I was right there in New Zealand. There didn’t even need to be a stand because the ground I was standing on was New Zealand.

I got some corned beef from the tent next to the giant inflatable corned beef tin. There’s a couple of music video by local artists that kind of fetishise canned corn beef. I’ve never been a huge corned beef fan, but every time I come to Pasifika I have some and it’s pretty good. Cooked up with cabbage and onions and served on rice, I can appreciate why those dudes like it so much they want to stick it in their videos.

Then the next delight on the menu was a coconut. They get a coconut, slice off the outer husk, chop the top off, stick a straw in and there’s a nice coconut full of coconut milk. Trop-o-licious goodness – not unlike Auckland.