When my father was 7 years old he came by boat to New Zealand as a Samoan immigrant. My grandparents sought a life of more opportunity for their large family of 10 children and joined other family in a foreign country. They came with not a lot but a large about of love and hope for the future. With a strong faith my grandparents settled in Tokoroa, which in the 1950’s was humming as a buzzing forestry town. My grandfather worked on the railroads, was active in his church and community. My grandmother was also active in the church and community but busy with a large tribe settling in a town so different village life.
The courageous legacy Nannie Talaia and Grandpa Oliver started for my uncle and aunties generation and future generations to come is incredibly inspiring to me. The immigrant resilience can never be underestimated and provides me with a great sense of admiration and gratefulness for my life.
I think of my own late fathers story as I’m sitting in Kosrae, one of the beautiful islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. I had not intended to be here but due to weather our plane could not land in Pohnpei, FSM to take the FSM Athlete’s Forum as part of the Oceania National Olympic Committee’s education programme. As a result of limited flights onto the island we are here until the next plane comes through.
Going for a morning run yesterday through several villages I thought a lot about my fathers early days in the Islands. Whilst I have been to Samoa I did not branch into the villages as much as I would have liked. I hope one day I will be able to experience the true island life away from the resorts to get a better understanding of both my family upbringing and my Pacific heritage.
Running through the Kosrae villages brought me a strong sense of what’s truly important in life. My opinion is, it’s not about stuff. It’s your people and your impact on the world. The people of Kosrae and this region do not have much in material possessions. In fact very little of the luxuries we both expect and to a certain extend demand in life. They are beautiful people constantly smiling and asking if we need help. Not out of hope for monetary gain but out of the share desire to take care of others.
Life is simple here. I have not heard complaints, seen frowns but I have observed the attitude of getting on with daily duties with a smile to contribute to family life. Yes I’m sure there is a sense of the greener pastures and a desire for more but on the whole it is a slap in the face about how much stuff do we actually need?
I believe it’s really not that much. I know I need my loves. My family, friends, health and some physical activity. All the rest I guess is a bonus but it’s a luxury that I am certainly guilty of taking of granted and placing far too much emphasis on. We have plenty but we are constantly on the look out for more. I’m just not convinced we are after the right stuff.
I remember learning in 3rd form economics about the differences between needs and wants. Being in Kosrae, thinking of my fathers background and looking at my own life has certainly given me perspective about my own needs and the unnecessary emphasis on wants in my life. Whilst I never expected to be here the people of Kosrae have allowed me to reflect on my own privileged life. You are beautiful Kosrae and I hope one day soon I’ll get to Pohnpei!