The Turtle: Another Icon of the Pacific Islands

Miss American Samoa - this print really moved me

I realised how much the turtle means to people of the Pacific Islands when I saw the sarong designs and prints sported by the 2010 Miss South Pacific Pageant contestants in November last year here in Port Moresby. Here are some of the reminders on the Sarong and Talent judging evening at the Lamana Hotel.

Miss American Samoa - an award-worthy print!

There should be two additional award categories: one for the prints on the sarong and the other for sarong design. As you can see from these photos, the attention to detail and style needs to be recognized and rewarded.

Miss Samoa - stunning idea! The shell pattern on a turtle's back.

We can find turtles practically anywhere in the Pacific Islands – from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea. Each of us have a special connection to this marine animal. The turtles live in the sea and lay their eggs along the sandy beaches of our lovely islands. These prints and designs show that connection.

Miss Samoa - turtle clasps made of coconut shell or turtle shell on the sarong

What comes to mind when I watched the contestants in their sarongs and these designs and prints is that the turtle has a very significant place in the cultures, as well as the cuisine of the Pacific Islands.

Miss Tonga - a turtle print on her sarong - impressive print

In Samoa one of the top 10 tourist attractions is swimming with turtles. In Hawaii we find the legend of the sea turtle called ‘Kauila‘. I am sure there are a few legends and myths about of sea turtles that go beyond the Pacific Islands. That means that the sea turtle is a migratory species and can be found also in Asia and the Caribbean.

In some parts of PNG turtle meat and turtle eggs are a delicacy. In Daru, Western Province the popular turtle meat dish is called isi dou. I tried making isi dou wrapped in foil – not the real thing to use but the taste was exquisite! So I was told by my relatives who enjoyed the dish immensely.

I will end this post by sharing a great article on sea turtles which I am sure we can identify with – the protection and preservation of these animals and also a Fact Sheet titled “Sea Turtles of the South Pacific” published by the South Pacific Environmental Programme (SPREP) which gives an overview of the variety of sea turtles, life cyle and other very important information about these marine animals.

May the turtle live on and continue to be an icon of the Pacific Islands.

The Manu Samoa – They Grew Up On ‘Samoan steroids’

Talofa

On 21 November, 2005, I was really privileged to attend a Manu Samoa(http://www.samoarugbyunion.ws) social function in Twickenham, south Middlesex. I went with a Kiwi friend and co-worker. We took the train then a bus and a long long wokabaut before we found the place. The function was co-organised by another co-worker, a Samoan wantok with other Samoans in London.

The function organisers invited a group of Samoan dancers who I think were based in Germany to come over and add to the evening’s entertainment. The food was good, the company was great and the entertainment was a truly Samoan affair.

Not only do they excel on the field they also do so on the dance floor!

When explaining what taro is – this was the dish I particularly did not want to miss – I think it may have been the Team Manager who said, ” Well, if you are all wondering what this grey stuff is, it is called ‘Samoan steroids’” or something to that effect.  The stuff that gives the Manu Samoa lads strength and power to take on any rugby team – present or future!  The room roared with laughter as only a Samoan with a wicked sense of humour would attempt to bring the  house full of fun lovers down. Next time you visit Honolulu, be sure to make a special trip to the Polynesian Cultural Centre (http://www.polynesia.com) and the Samoan village. I can guarantee you lots of laughter from the ‘comedians of the Pacific Islands’ – you certainly won’t be disappointed – it’s all top-notch entertainment from start to finish.

Dancing and laughter - pity stiff joints made it impossible to join in.

If you should find yourself stuck trying to explain our native foods as some West Indian friends call ‘hard food’, think creatively and give them interesting names to entice hardcore resisters to try some of our favourite root veggies like taro, kaukau (kumera), cassava called mogo (served with garlic, chilli or masala and found in most Indian restaurant menus here in London) etc.

Some cool Samoan moves

Photos sprinkled over this post to remember that evening in Twickenham with the Manu Samoa lads. I did not attend their game and am not sure now whether it was against England or Wales. But a great time was had by all. I am so pleased I was able to be at their social function.

The best Samoan male choir - just my opinion
The best Samoan male choir - just my opinion

 Oh dear it's back breaking work but the audience loved it!

I don’t  follow rugby that often since I don’t have a sports channel but it is always good to see some of our Pacific Island teams make it to the UK. Power and more power to our sporting lads!

The dancers mersmerised us!