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2017

Teu le Vā - Five minutes with Larry Nimalota

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Introducing our Teu le Vā staff group

The Museum's Teu le Vā staff group is delighted to support all the Pacific Island Language Weeks taking place in 2017, starting with Samoan Language Week. 

We are an internal network of Moana Pacific colleagues who meet regularly to talanoa, fellowship and support the Pacific dimension of Auckland Museum's people, collections and communities.

In celebration of Samoan Language week we are pleased to share the profile of Larry Nimalota, Visitor Host and Teu le Vā member.  

Fa'afetai tele lava Larry for sharing your words with us.

Leone Samu
Collection Technician, PCAP

Larry Nimalota

Image supplied

What's your name?

Larry Nimalota Johnson

What's your role at Auckland Museum? 

I'm a Visitor Host and have also now become a volunteer with PCAP. I started at Auckland Museum in 2008.

Where do you trace your family roots to? 

I'm mainly of Samoan descent and Maori. I'm a family man. Married to my wife Ann-Maree who is of Native American Indian and Welsh descent and we have three children.

What are your interests outside of work? 

Definitely music.I'm a musician and I play in several bands/groups as well as teaching a choir and guitar. I'm also heavily involved in Lotu (church). I attend St John's Anglican church in Royal Oak and my responsibilities there include being a lay preacher and a youth group leader. I'm also the warden there.  

What's a phrase or a word in a Pacific language that resonates with you? 

I have two: 'Samoa mo Samoa' which means Samoa for the Samoans, and 'Fa'avae i le Atua Samoa'. This is the motto on Samoa's coat of arms meaning 'Samoa is Founded on God'.

These two phrases are important to me because growing up watching my mother undertake her responsibilities in the extended aiga (family) had an impact on me; she is an orator chief and her title is Soliola, from the village of Lepā, in Aleipata, Upolu.

She was the first female matai to have a title bestowed in her village – it was rare to see a female matai back in the day, so it was special time for her and the family.

There were also very high expectations being an orator chief having to speak in gatherings and meetings where it was dominated by males, so that's how those two sayings have stuck with me. 

What does Teu le Vā  mean to you?

When I first started here I didn't know what that meant. But especially in regards to now volunteering in PCAP it's about fostering a connection with the Pacific, not just with objects but understanding where they come from, and how we can utilize and add to the journey with them.

That's part of the reason why I jumped on board with PCAP, because I wanted to connect.

In the bigger picture, I wanted to be part of the journey to make connections between objects and community. Other members in my team have noticed that I've volunteered with PCAP and have said they're interested in following this avenue too.

Larry with his family - wife Ann-Maree and children Aiyana (daughter), Lennox (son) and Skylar (16 months)

Image supplied

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