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Grace Taylor
New Zealand

In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
Grace Taylor, is of Samoan and Palagi descent. She is a member of the South Auckland Poets Collective, an up and coming group of young Pasifika spoken word artists.

Afa’ Kasi III: My Samoa

My Samoa
is hidden deep beneath fair skin
it lingers on my tongue in pronunciation.
It sits quietly ashamed
between hymns and lotu
it hides behind a smile of embarrassments

My Samoa
is written on my mother's thighs
her malu marked flesh
dispel any lies.
It permeates from a flower
tucked behind a left ear,
a hibiscus or frangipani
to ‘islandify’ what I wear.

My Samoa
is captured in photos
of times, places and faces
migration has forgotten.
It adorns our walls
with plastic flowers and shells
from Taiwan, to Otara
bought in.

My Samoa is one tick of two in a box
that forces me to identify
within a box
It is elusive
yet inclusive
not quite one
or the other
It is blurred
and slurred
a chameleon nature

My Samoa
Stutters its way through foreign tongue
As places and names
Are memorised and rehearsed
It is learned
An acquired skill
Second nature has forgotten
An aftertaste
Of a mango I was longing

My Samoa
Looks in the mirror and is angry
Why white?
Why blonde?
Where my Samoa has gone?
Why my language was not taught?
Lost in translation I am caught.
It depends on my ability to name
people, place, face
to explain why I am displaced
of a mixed race

My Samoa
Resides in white men’s museums
Tapa’s and taonga’s they call artefacts
That I pay to see, hidden safe within
It inspires me
To take the same amount of time and energy
To journey back and uncover
A history that once belonged to me

My Samoa
Resides in South Auckland
A melting pot
Of parents with the tired eyes of 2 shifts
Sport Saturdays and polyfests
Dance crews, youth groups
Overstayers to homestays
She is the way
To my Apia
The runway
To my va’alele
The gateway
To my culture

My Samoa
Resides in Moata’a
Between coral driveways
Sea salt air
Dog wondering
Food cooking
Nana laid to rest
Ancestral pathways
She sleeps in a open fale
Next to her Palangi built house
On a mat, on the ground
She has most comfortably felt

My Samoa
Lives on in my son
As grandmothers mother tongue
Coats his ears with knowing
A sense of belonging
Through language
She is sowing

My Samoa
Allows me to traverse
Between the worlds of two
A transient nature
Used as a blessing, not a curse.
It forgives that which I do not know
And have yet to learn
It grants the permission
For room to grow

My Samoa
Is half
Stretched vast
Between the deep blue seas
Of countries three
Where three worlds collide
To create me.
It is the malanga of negotiation
Between others and myself
Within myself
For myself

My Samoa
Rests in my heart
Stripped bare of colour
A unique experience of many parts

Courage to learn, Question, ask
Be real with who I am
To not wear a mask
To be as delightful
As a siva Samoa
A afakasi’ women
Taking charge of her floor