Manukau Courier : January 21st 2010
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We are open 7 days Phone now 278 4830 1-375 Great South Road, Papatoetoe Dr Kiat Lin BDS Otago 3434063AF Tattoo forms a strong bond Worth the wait: Josh Saua and Rimoni Leota sport their Samoan pe'a after 11 days under the chisel of traditional Samoan tattooist Tulouena Vaasiliena Mareko Lesoa. Photos: HINERANGI VAIMOSO Marked man: Manukau-based tattoo artist Tulouena Vaasiliena Mareko Lesoa works on the thigh of Second Lieutenant Rimoni Leota. Assistants stretch, pull and wipe the skin. By HINERANGI VAIMOSO THEY met as colleagues and became best mates after realising they were two of only three Samoan officers in the New Zealand Army. Now, after spending 11 days in Papakura under the jagged chisel of a Manurewa- based traditional Samoan tattoo artist, their bond is even stronger. Rimoni Leota and Josh Saua, both second lieuten- ants with 1RNZIR based at Linton near Palmerston North, have just finished fulfilling a longtime dream -- receiving a Samoan pe'a. The heavily shaded tattoo spans the area between the chest to the knees and was traditionally reserved for men about to inherit a matai or chiefly title. Nowadays it adorns men who are eager and brave enough to undergo the gruel- ling process. Rimoni, 26, and Josh, 20, sat as still as possible for up to six hours every day for 11 days under the careful eye of Tulouena Vaasiliena Mareko Lesoa, the tattoo artist both men waited a year to work with. There's a saying we have in the army when it comes to something that's tough and that's to just smash it out' so that's what I was keen to do, just smash it out,'' Rimoni says. The Samoan connection for both men is paternal and the pe'a is something they'd wanted to do for a long time as a way of making the link even stronger. Josh's first language is Samoan and his way of life was heavily influenced by his father's ancestry and the grandmother who lived with his family. The pe'a was a natural step. You do hear about a lot of people who get things like this done because they're just getting in touch with their culture but with me it was different. I speak the language, I go to church, I have a lot to do with my Samoan side so this is natural for me. It feels really good.'' Josh's family is based in Palmerston North but made the trip to Rimoni's home in Papakura which became the tattoo studio. It was also the hub of sup- port from friends and relatives who dropped in with food and words of encourage- ment throughout the 11 days. It was really nice to be able to celebrate this occasion with both of our families together,'' Rimoni says. Among those who came to watch were Rimoni's father Malo and Josh's father Filipo. I really support his deci- sion and I just do what I can to make him feel comfortable. As a parent I am proud and encourage him,'' Malo says. Filipo says he just told his son to enjoy the experience. These boys were always really involved in the com- munity, public speaking, working with youth and the government,'' he says. They've both grown up in good families and have great leadership skills so this is good. It's a journey that will bring them closer together and has brought our families together which is great.'' Family and friends also joined the men at the local Methodist church hall last Saturday for the official blessing of the pe'a. The ceremony, emotionally charged like the entire pro- cess for the men, included a dance done only by other men strong enough to have com- pleted the process too. Rimoni now plans to head to the United Kingdom on an exchange with the British army while Josh returns to Linton. Both are bound for Afghanistan in October. Sir John leads first XV of world cup champions Manurewa-Papakura council- lor Sir John Walker is to cap- tain a team of 15 dis- tinguished Aucklanders to champion the city's role as the hub of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The group will be named on February 1 by mayor Len Brown, acting as head coach for what he's calling Auck- land's first XV. This is all about spreading the word that RWC 2011 is the event for all Aucklanders -- not just rugby fans,'' Mr Brown says. We want to engage a diverse group of champions' who will be respected and listened to by a wide range of Auckland audiences.'' All 15 are passionate Aucklanders'' excited about the opportunities the rugby event presents for Auckland. The mayor and fellow selectors Alan Whetton, Buck Shelford and Grant Fox -- all members of the 1987 world champion All Blacks side -- faced some difficult calls when picking the team. Like any team announce- ment there were automatic selections and a few bolters that will surprise anyone try- ing to pick their own 15,'' Mr Brown says. But Sir John's track record as an Olympian, Find Your Field of Dreams founder and new Auckland ambassador meant the captain effectively picked himself''. Sir John says the Rugby World Cup is a once-in-a- lifetime event that Auck- landers should embrace. Opportunities to get in- volved range from being a volunteer at the event, to adopting a visiting team to support, to ensuring the best customer service in hotels, restaurants and retail stores. We want all Aucklanders to know that this is an event they can be involved in, be proud of and benefit from.''
January 20th 2011
January 25th 2011