Heartwarming stories from Pukapuka

Saturday September 26, 2020 Written by Published in Education
Apii Niua students from the northern group island of Pukapuka with their prizes. 20092520/20092521 Apii Niua students from the northern group island of Pukapuka with their prizes. 20092520/20092521

Pukapuka’s Apii Niua students produced some heartening pieces of writing to mark the World Literacy Day and Literacy Week earlier this month.

The writings were based on three themes – Wotu Wua Te Lelei and Apai Tu’anga (Maori), Omotenashi (Japanese) and Reciprocity (English). School principal Anna Katoa would like to acknowledge Minister of Education Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa and Member of Parliament for Pukapuka-Nassau Tingika Elikana for their generous donations towards their writing competition. Winners – Year 4 – 6: English 1st Tutala Teiho-tua, 2nd Ngalima Ngalima; Maori 1st Tetuanui Dariu, 2nd Para Dariu, 3rd Maree Eliza. Year 7 - 8: English 1st Kaareta Taoroba, 2nd Adi Viti Piira, 3rd Tungane Rikini; Maori 1st Adi Viti Piira, 2nd Taom Toru, 3rd Tuakaouanga Lito. Year 9 - 10: English 1st Apii Piira, 2nd Nazario Ravarua, 3rd Cameron Teopenga; Maori 1st Kani Dariu, 2nd Kikau Punga, 3rd Piriiti Tepania. Year 11: English 1st Tarainga Iriiria, 2nd Coroner Rubena; Maori 1st Potulini Rubena, 2nd Rabana Temoana, 3rd Keyman Pereo.

The Place I call Home by Kaareta Claude Taoroba Year 7

Omotenashi is a Japanese word. The meaning is giving, without expecting reward, or doing good things for other people like guests – to show love, care, respect and hospitality without counting them. In Pukapuka, it is called “onga wua te lelei” or “Wotu wua te atawai”.

For example, giving food and drink to guests for free is omotenashi.

My writing is about Pukapuka people and how they show omotenashi to me and my parents on the island – “Tu lelei/atawai kia aku ma oku matutua”.

Me and my parents are not Pukapukans but i-Kiribati (people of Kiribati). We are here because my mother is a teacher at Niua School. We have lived on the island for more than 10 years now. I was born in 2008 in Rarotonga and I am growing up in Pukapuka.

Everywhere we go on the island people show us love, kindness, respect and hospitality.  Every day people are saying hello and asking how we are, with a happy face. On Sundays, people give us cooked foods like olouto, olowawa, mawu and fish, for free. They always invite us to their special feasts on the island and make us sit with important people like Aliki and others.

On Saturdays, the Yato boys always give us fish when they came back from fishing and women give us taro.  My friends always help me with my chores before we go to play. When we walk on the road, they call us to eat with them. They even come to our house to let my parents know what the island’s programmes are.

Every Christmas celebration and Kavekave, and fishing competitions, we always get a free big share of fish and lots of coconuts from the Tawangake and the island. Men help my dad in his work, like making his vaka and repairing our local house. Women help my mother in teaching her how to cook local foods.

When we got sick, local doctors visit us to give a massage or make us local medicine for free.

My parents sometimes give food to the people who come with food, and the local doctors, to pay back their kindness, but they don’t take them. My dad always gets angry with my mum, and says that she must give them something in return.

At school, my teachers are kind to me. They teach me everything I need to know at school, and never hurt me. The children are very kind and friendly. I am lucky to learn the culture and the language at school.

Living and growing up with Pukapukans, and learning the Pukapuka culture and language means I don’t want to go back to my parents’ home country, because I don’t know the culture and language and I’m afraid.  But I will stay in Pukapuka, because the people love me and I feel safe with them every day.


Omotenashi Wotu Wua Te Lelei by Tarainga Iriiria Year 11

Omotenashi is a Japanese word which means “extreme kindness and hospitality”. “Omote” means to serve, “Nashi” means nothing, getting nothing in return. In the Pukapukan language it means “wotu wua te lelei”.

Here on Pukapuka, I see some people showing some hospitality and respect, but I think it is because they want something in return, and that is not how you show Omotenashi.

I thank every single parent, and my own, for taking good care of us kids from the day we were born. You have shown us many things like generosity, respect, appreciation, compassion and many more. Our parents have shown us the true power of ‘wotu wua te lelei,’ of ‘omotenashi.’

It is easy to show ‘wotu wua te lelei’ to others. All you have to do is smile, hold the door open, give an honest compliment, be a good listener, thank someone who you appreciate, offer your help to someone, and ask a person next to you how’s their day going, and so on.  Follow these simple instructions and you’ll be happy and free. Some people show kindness to make themselves feel good, but real kindness gives others a feeling of hope and happiness.

Spreading kindness is like healing the sick. Jesus said, “Be kind to one another, love your enemies and do good. Lend and expect nothing in return and your reward will be great.”

Being a kind generous person, every single day is a gift. All I can think of is giving, and when I give it, I give it with everything I’ve got; with love, care, and appreciation. I care about others more than myself. Every single day I smile at everyone I see when I walk through the door. I hold the door for other people. When someone is talking, I make sure I listen well. If a lady has a long day, I’ll ask her, “How’s your day going?” I’ll often offer my help to her if she needs it.

It is very important to not stress yourself. Kindness is the best medicine, and being generous can change the world. One act of kindness towards one human being can change other people’s lives.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying hard to teach myself how to show respect to others, how to be hospitable, and to love. First, I would say a short prayer and try to remember yesterday’s good memories. Yesterday was Sunday, and I remembered the pastor saying, “the more you take, the less you’ll have”. God is our kind protector, our Saviour. I was saving my money for a new phone, but then I was thinking, it’ll be a waste of money if I spend it on a phone. I’d rather give my money to God.

I wanted to surprise the kids at school with some ice blocks, so I spent some of my money on the kids. I was showing consideration and hospitality. I wasn’t spending my money so that I would get something in return. I did it because I love Jesus and the kids.

When I was little, I would go to anyone’s house and stay there for the night, and they’d feed me, clothe me, and they would treat me like family. When my grandparents were alive, my dad used to take me to their place, and they would look after me, and I was happy then. When someone gave me a hiding, my Mama Pili would give that person a smack. I was happy then.

Happiness is inside all of us. We just need help to release it. Kindness is the only medicine if you are in such pain or stress. If someone is putting you down, don’t listen to them. Encourage those who are in pain to cheer them up. Show some love and generosity. Omotenashi, or in other words. wotu wua te lelei, in this world, can change lives.

Omotenashi means “Onga wua te lelei” by Tutala Teiho-Tua Year 6

My mum is nice to us and to everybody. She cooks the food for our family and for my dad as well. Now my dad is very sick, my mum always cooks his favourite dishes to make him happy, because he can’t sleep at night but feels pain. The doctor took him to the hospital for some days, and brought him back to my mum. My mum does a lot of hard work to help my dad. She feeds and bathes him every day. She also cleans our house, washes our dirty clothes, cooks our food, and look after my baby sister Moeleka.

My mum stays home and looks after my dad. When we come back from school, my mum prepares our food on the table and calls us to eat. She sits there with us and tells us not to make a mess on the table. My mother sometimes feels tired and asks big sister to cook food, clean the house and look after Moemoe. She asks us to help her to pick up the rubbish around our house, and fill the washing machine with water.

At night, she helps us with our homework. We say our prayer before we go to sleep. Early mornings she wakes up to make the tea and cook our breakfast, get lunch and uniforms ready before we come to school.

Sometimes my mum goes to the taro patch to plant taro or get taro for us. When she comes back, she cleans the taro and cooks it for dinner. Then she gets the fish from the fridge and cooks it too.

Sometimes my mum goes and helps my papa and mama at Muli. She makes them tea and helps my mama in the taro patch. 

I love my mum. Sometimes we sing a song with her before we go to sleep. She gives hugs to me and my brothers and sisters before we go sleep.

The Person I Admire the Most by Ngalima Grade 6

The person I most admire is my grandfather, Papa Ngalima, because he is a good humble man, easy to talk to, and a good provider for our family.  He is a hard worker, and has been the excavator and grader driver for nearly 30 years.

I feel sorry for my Papa because he is a very sick man, and when people come and ask him for help, he doesn’t say no. He goes and helps them, even when he is sick. He was an Island Councillor for 18 years for the village of Ngake, and had to give it up because he got sick. He had to go to New Zealand for treatment.

My Papa is a good teacher. He taught me the difference between good and bad, and to always show respect to others, even if they treat me bad. Every day after my Papa finishes his work, we go fishing to catch fish for our dinner. He is a good cook, and always makes sure we have food on the table and in the cupboards.

My Papa is a funny man. He likes joking around with me and other people. He was good at sports, and is popular on the island for his jokes.

That is the kind of person I would like to be when I get older – a good leader, teacher, and a good provider. 

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