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  1. Money is not everything Dennis. There is a Samoan proverb ‘O Samoa e mativa fesaga’i.’ ‘O le tagata ma lona aiga o le tagata ma lona fa’asinomaga.’ ‘E manumanu le tava’e i ona fulu.’ ‘Seu le manu ae taga’i i le galu.’ Find out what these mean. Find out the essence behind them. Learn from them. Learn their contexts and their origins. Then, I hope you fully understand what our society is about. But then of course people like you probably would not understand these values because you may have never been poor or shared anything in your life. You may never have been part of a communal existence. The essence of Samoan culture places no value on money, on which all your views and judgements are based. I would say, narrow, ignorant, and palagi – biased. How long have you lived in Samoa? 6 years? You look at what is wrong with politics, and that’s how you judge ALL our people? Then you make such sweeping statements that all Samoans are lazy? I see your attitude as typical arrogance that comes from ignorance. Pleas do not use politics to judge all aspects of our culture which you know NOTHING about.

    • Thank you for bothering to put pen to paper Perenise. Despite your incorrect assumptions and some of what you have said which I find offensive, wrong and low-level thought, I do usually appreciate people who dare/bother to respond.

      > Money is not everything Dennis.
      Totally agreed but it *IS* the subject of this post. Be careful not to assume things from one post only – there are more than a million words here, much about Samoan culture from a Christian perspective.

      > There is a Samoan proverb ‘O Samoa e mativa fesaga’i.’ ‘O le tagata ma lona aiga o le tagata ma lona fa’asinomaga.’ ‘E manumanu le tava’e i ona fulu.’ ‘Seu le manu ae taga’i i le galu.’ Find out what these mean. Find out the essence behind them. Learn from them. Learn their contexts and their origins.

      No. I speak English. Now if you cannot be bothered to explain the thoughts, values and principles contained within the Samoan phrases you quote in English then neither I nor my readers will ever get to your depth of understanding. This request from you is like me asking you to understand the technical aspects that make the difference between the deep rich sound of a USA manufactured Conn 8D French Horn compared to a lighter sound of a German F/Bflat instrument. Can you explain this? I would be an arrogant fool to ask you to research this detail before talking to you about deeper knowledge because I know what the difference is but you are unlikely to, ever.

      > Then, I hope you fully understand what our society is about.
      If there is one thing that you can be VERY sure about it is that I do ideed understand your society and culture. Everywhere I went in Samoa I took a translator and/or cultural advisor with me. You know why? Because I understood. I understand how important it is that a visitor in the country you have left not only recognise but show that they recognise the importance of showing respect to the people of the land. If you exercised that same understanding back to me, you would have translated your own Samoan quotes. And you know what many serious humble people said to and about me? “He’s more of a genuine Samoan than many of our own people!”

      > But then of course people like you probably would not understand these values because you may have never been poor or shared anything in your life.
      What do you mean “people like me?” You are arrogant and bleating like you are a victim of life. Toughen up and live in the real world. The truth is that you make the very same mistake that you accuse me of. The very reason that I DO understand and can talk with the experience that I do is BECAUSE I am not driven by money; I DO and HAVE given and teach how to give sacrificially. You have probably never met a Palagi like me though who does understand. That means that you don’t and never will understand people like me, who shoot straight, who care and think and can be trusted.

      > You may never have been part of a communal existence.
      How wrong can you be? Your arrogance makes my blood boil for the efforts that I have expended and price that I have paid to live in communal ways. Apart from the immediate three decades in New Zealand when I did exactly what you challenge me on here, for years that is what I did and in Samoa too – putting hundreds of Palagi through communal rural experiences, teaching it and promoting it BUT I did it from a Christian world-view perspective, showing and teaching the beauty of the Samoan culture, the communal ways and how they compared with biblical instruction and guidance. That means that unlike you, I shared and share BOTH sides of the experience.

      And you? You have left your communal existence and embraced the Kiwi way of life? Yes? You now live in New Zealand Yes? Why? Does the comunal ways not suit you anymore. You want to engage with the capitalism of the West for some reason? To send it home? To better your lives? Hmmm. There’s a word for that . . . hypocrite.

      > The essence of Samoan culture places no value on money,
      Utter balderdash. Money and power are closely associated. The entire matai system is a division of and management of money and power. Where does the boys’ wages go? To the matai? Where does the families wealth go? To the faifeau? Look, when the little people come to me and say, “Dennis, I don’t go to church because I can’t afford to!” I listen. When the foreign Samoans tell me of their social obligations to faalavelaves and I see their sweat, pain and anguish, I observe and note. When the PM tells me of the various tricks he uses to reduce the financial burden of the poor to the Samoan cultural expectations, I take note. When the young couples who want to rent in the city so that they can get ahead in life instead of living the communal ways I can see what the reality of the Samoan culture is.

      You know little about me and your ignorance is showing. The first thing a Palagi learns when he arrives in Samoa (after the humidity) he learns from the taxi drivers . . . “Taxi!” “Taxi!” “Taxi!” and that the price is – how can we say this politely – “flexible?” We all call it the “Palagi Price”. $5.00, $5.00, $5.00, and then when the Palagi arrives, $10.00 and “Oh sorry boss, I forgot, yes it’s $5.00” when challenged. The greed and societal focus on both the absence of money and the desire of money is extreme, especially for the Palagi not used to living in the third world. Now this is REALITY. From the political leaders all the way down from central government through local government and the matai system and out to the religious control systems EVERYTHING is focussed on money, money, money. Yes, it is true that the original Samoan culture has a greater focus on relationship than the Western cultures but you are totally dreaming if you think that there is “no value on money”. Money is sought after, fought for and even worshiped in Samoa, but of course in the Samoan context. It always has been too.

      > on which all your views and judgements are based.
      Utter BS. Do some reading of this blog and recall in horror as you realise how wrong you are!

      > I would say, narrow, ignorant, and palagi – biased.
      Your judgmental attitude assumes that because I dare to speak something that you don’t like to hear that I am biased or ignorant. No . . . Perenise it is you who is the bigot. What does the colour of my skin or the country of my birth matter when we speak the truth? I am opinionated, sure, but I write generously; I care; I am intelligent and my bias is towards the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I am also proud of that. Yes, SOME Palagi, indeed one could even say MANY Palagi are racially biased like you suggest – not me though!

      The other thing is that just because I dare to say things that you don’t like to hear doesn’t mean that I don’t know or understand your people or your culture. We are different. I can still love and understand and agree to disagree. I’ve lost count of the number of times a Samoan says (usually behind my back after I have gone) “He doesn’t understand!” when what they really should be saying is “I don’t agree”.

      > How long have you lived in Samoa? 6 years?
      This is totally irrelevant. I have watched some Palagi come and live in Samoa for 20+ years but never integrate or understand. It took me 18 months to really understand and I went deep really quickly and have had deep Polynesian cultural experience previously.

      > You look at what is wrong with politics, and that’s how you judge ALL our people? Then you make such sweeping statements that all Samoans are lazy?
      There are exceptions to ANY observation but let’s be quite frank – Samoan laziness is legendary. It doesn’t mean that ALL Samoans are lazy or at all times (they’re not) but the general trend is that Samoans’ work ethics are different to Palagis’. Now there are sensitivities that cause you offence when I speak words that you want to defend BUT back in Samoa, we all know the real score – if you don’t have to do something most don’t do it. Oftentimes it still doesn’t get done even when it has to be done.

      > I see your attitude as typical arrogance that comes from ignorance.
      You are rude and offensive.

      > Pleas do not use politics to judge all aspects of our culture which you know NOTHING about.
      You are pathetic talking like this. You clearly know NOTHING about me, who I am or what I know, understand, have done or do for your people, country and culture. This makes you the ignorant one, not me. That you raise my race when I speak the truth makes you a racist and says a lot to the world about the way that Samoans like you respond to criticism. You get more concerned about how things look to your own than being willing to deal with reality. “He’s a Palagi so he has no right to criticise us!” is the level of your thought.

      Deal with the issues, the ball and not the player. Time to grow up and get real methinks – Perenise

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