Tell me where the reading’s at!

Check out this video by students and teachers at Arataki School in Mt Maunganui. It’s a re-make of Savage’s song “Freaks” to promote reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wX9o-YDaDY&feature=youtu.be

Here’s what Savage said about the idea: “Received a request from a teacher from Arataki School for permission to do their own version of “Freaks” to promote reading within the school for the younger students and I am supporting it 1000% and I’m sure Timmy Trumpet would support it too!! I take my hat off to teachers that go the extra mile to capture the attention of our young ones and make learning fun and using what’s popular to get the kids excited about education! To the staff at Arataki School keep up the good work!”

Mayhem & Miracles

It’s NZ Music Month and X Factor grand final time so this week I want to honour a Samoan hero who has achieved international success and broke a ceiling for Pacific hiphop. The artist? Demetrius Savelio, better known as Savage.

Get Wild 1

What I love the most about Savage’s story is how he overcame a tough beginning to find a dream and pursue it. We often come to know achievers in their best moments, and that can be intimidating. But when we have a chance to hear their life stories we discover that achievers are ordinary people, just like us. They face challenges like we all do … and they don’t always make the right choices. But one thing they do is persevere.

Get Wild 3

You’ll be amazed to hear some of the things Savage has been through in his life, including homelessness, expulsion from school and trouble with the police. “Mayhem is my past, where I came from,” Savage explains, “and music, which changed my life, is the miracle … things I never thought I’d accomplish.”

I’m so glad that the book Samoan Heroes documents his and other achievers’ stories because they are truly inspirational.

In the Blue Corner …

It’s been a long time in the making … but the Samoan Heroes book is just a few weeks away from release. The books are on a ship coming from China, due to arrive late this month, just in time for Samoan Independence celebrations!

In anticipation, the next few posts will be some extracts from the book. First up – To’aletai David Tua.

Heavyweight boxer David Tua prepares for his next fight, against Friday Ahunanya. 25 March  2010 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Brett Phibbs NZH 27Mar10 - READY AND WAITING: Heavyweight boxer David Tua  is mentally and physically prepared for his clash with  Friday Ahunanya.   PICTURE /  BRETT PHIBBS WGC 17Jul10 - NAD 17Jul10 - HBT 17Jul10 - WTA 17Jul10 -  SUN 17Oct10 - SUPPORT: David Tua is staying  focused.   NZ HERALD HBT 09Aug11 - BUT WAIT, THERE'S ...  David Tua reckons he needs to  score points in case a knockout doesn't come.   PHOTO/FILE NAD 11Aug11 - REMATCH: Saturday will see David Tua again take on Monte Barrett, the only man to knock him down in his 57-fight professional career.ONE MORE WIN: Friday Ahunanya was outpointed by Tua last year.EARLY KNOCKOUT: Tua destroyed Shane Cameron inside two rounds in 2009.OUTCLASSED: Tua's sole shot at a world title ended in defeat against Lennox Lewis. RDP 11Aug11 - REMATCH: Saturday will see David Tua again take on Monte Barrett, the only man to knock him down in his 57-fight professional career.ONE MORE WIN: Friday Ahunanya was outpointed by Tua last year.EARLY KNOCKOUT: Tua destroyed Shane Cameron inside two rounds in 2009.OUTCLASSED: Tua's sole shot at a world title ended in defeat against Lennox Lewis. HBT 11Aug11 - REMATCH: Saturday will see David Tua again take on Monte Barrett, the only man to knock him down in his 57-fight professional career.  PHOTOS/FILEONE MORE WIN: Friday Ahunanya was outpointed by Tua last year.EARLY KNOCKOUT: Tua destroyed Shane Cameron inside two rounds in 2009.OUTCLASSED: Tua's sole shot at a world title ended in defeat against Lennox Lewis. OAM 12Aug11 - REMATCH: Saturday will see David Tua again take on Monte Barrett, the only man to knock him down in his 57-fight professional career.EARLY KNOCKOUT: Tua destroyed Shane Cameron inside two rounds in 2009. WGC 13Aug11 - REMATCH: Saturday will see David Tua again take on Monte Barrett, the only man to knock him down in his 57-fight pr

When David fought Lennox Lewis for the Heavyweight Championship, he faced an opponent with a similar style to Floyd Mayweather. Like Floyd, Lennox fought a defensive fight, keeping out of reach of David’s dangerous left hook.

David 3

I think a lot of people underestimate David’s achievement. Many people believe the Heavyweight Boxing Title is the most prestigious title in sports and David was the first person of Polynesian heritage to reach that level.

David Tua lands a punch against Friday "The 13th" Ahunanya during their 12 round fight at The Trusts Stadium Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday 31 March 2010. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/PHOTOSPORT

David’s father continued to watch replays of the fight months afterward. “Why do you keep watching that, Dad?” David would ask, a little embarrassed about the result. “Because we’re proud of you son,” his Dad would reply.

Lennox’s trainer, the legendary Emanuel Steward, later said, “That was the most scared Lennox has ever been before a fight. What David has accomplished when you consider his physical handicaps is phenomenal.” Emanuel should know – he’s trained some of the best boxers in history including Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko the current Heavyweight Champion.

Emmanuel-Steward-and-Thomas-Hearns

Capped

Reading Warrior:

Awesome Li’i :)

Originally posted on Aloalii Tapu:

I graduated! I loved bein with my closest friends, celebrating our success. I loved every second of dancing, training and performing with my class. I dedicated a little dance on stage, as I received my certificate, to my mum. My parents are warriors and haveworked incredibly hard to see their children succeed. Another Polynesian from Otara has been capped, God is good.

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“Check it out, check it out”

It’s National Library week in America and Topeka Library made this parody of Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off” to celebrate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfNfnL64rOQ&feature=youtu.be

Big shout out to all our local librarians including Richie (@TupuYouth), Max (Manukau), Atoy (Botany). Thank you for what you do guys.

.Botany Manukau TupuManukau2

Living passionately

Regular Season

Samoan hero Troy Polamalu retired from the NFL this week. I love what he said in an interview in 2010.

Reporter: “You play the game so violently, are you a violent person off the field too? Do you like violence?”

Troy : “No, I don’t like violence and I don’t like hitting the other players so hard. I try to live my life passionately whether I’m on a football field, or at home with my wife. Even if it was ballet I’d have the same approach to it.”

Here’s an ESPN tribute to Troy: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12659234

Where the magic happens

where-the-magic-happens

Today I had to tell my year 9 tutor class that I won’t be their tutor teacher next term. It was pretty hard because we’ve built up a bond and just started to get to know each other. I’ve enjoyed working with these junior students, trying to share with them things they need to know to be successful at high school, trying to encourage them to believe in themselves and know they are special young people.

But for a while I’ve been feeling like I have to do something to get a personal dream moving faster. So as of today, I’m no longer going to be teaching fulltime, but part-time. It’s a big step for our family, almost a half cut in pay. But all these years I’ve been encouraging my students to be brave, take risks, get out of comfort zones. It’s time I did that. Going part-time will give me more time to write and get more books out. I don’t know if I will fail at this or do well enough to maybe make a living from it one day. I just know that I have to try, and it has to be now!

I’m proud of myself for taking a step out of a comfort zone, hoping some magic happens.

Wish you all the best with your dreams guys :)

SBW and the Childrens’ Book Awards

Just found out that my book Off Loading with Sonny Bill Williams made the longlist for the LIANZA Childrens Book Awards. That’s pretty cool!

I enjoy speaking about SBW with students, showing them how he loves to read, carries exercise books around so he can take notes at training and believes digital literacy is as important as being able to tackle hard, off-load and score tries on a football field!

I think his attitude to life is awesome too – he’s a risk taker, constantly willing to try new things to get better, even if he fails and even if people criticize him. Like all of us, SBW is not perfect, but he does have a lot of good qualities we can share with young people.

http://readingwarrior.com/books/off-loading-with-sonny-bill-williams/

Cover 4

The circus is coming

circus

Last week I wrote about how I believed young people will read books, if they find books that are appealing to them. About how I had a feeling about what kinds of books those are. And how I just started writing them even though publishers told me they doubted there would be interest in the kinds of Kiwi biographies l write.

This week I read an awesome post titled “The circus is coming to town” by entrepreneur Seth Godin.

“Too often, we wait. We wait to get the gig, or to make the complex sale, or to find the approval we seek. Then we decide it’s time to get to work and put on our show. The circus doesn’t work that way. They don’t wait to be called. They show up. They show up and sell tickets.

When you transform the order of things, the power shifts. “The circus is going to be here tomorrow, are you going?” That’s a very different question than, “are you willing to go out on a limb and book the circus? If you are, we’ll come to town…”

People respond to forward motion.

This message encourages us to work the way circuses do. Got an idea you believe in? Don’t wait to be discovered, or called upon by someone, or given approval or permission. Just turn up and do it!

Do you see the connection between this message and the picture of the seagull?

bird sign

Rejections and Reflections

Steppin with Benji Marshall

It’s been three weeks since I released Jammin with Steven Adams and the feedback I’ve received has been awesome and really encouraging!

I’m so thankful to the educators and librarians who took a chance on a self published author for the sake of their students and really happy for the young people I write for.

And I’ve been thinking about how I started writing this series of sports biographies that includes books on Benji M and SBW.

  • It’s late 2010 and a Kiwi teacher based in South Auckland wishes there were more books his students were interested in. Books he’d like to read if he was a student, of sporting heroes, inspirational figures, overcomers …
  • He reads a comment by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” He nervously e mails Benji Marshall’s manager and tells him he wants to write a biography of Benji for teenagers. Benji and his manager support the idea!
  • He writes the book and sends it to publishers. “Unfortunately we will not publish this book,” he’s told. “There’s no market for these kinds of books.”
  • He doesn’t agree. He decides to self-publish.
  • It’s hard!
  • He fumbles his way through the process but eventually a box of books arrives on his doorstep. Steppin’ with Benji Marshall is released!“The book is a HUGE hit!!!! Keep writing – a whole series would be awesome!”  Kimberley Atkinson  (Roberston Rd School, Mangere)

    “It has surpassed my expectations.  It’s fabulous!  The kids are going to absolutely love it, and hopefully carry it’s inspirational message away with them. Thank you so much for writing such high-interest, relevant books.  Please keep them coming!”   Jennifer Cunningham (East Tamaki School)

    “It is absolutely fantastic and can be used for my boys.  They will be thrilled. ” Louisa Hala (ASDA High School)

    “This is the first “real” book my son has ever read without having to be nagged to read! I am looking forward to reading it myself – but may have to wait until my partner also reads it since there are daily reviews from his son about the book.”  Melissa, an Auckland mum

I’m writing this post for others out there whose ideas have been rejected, whether rejected by your own thinking or by ‘experts’.

I encourage you to trust yourself and go make something. The world needs it. Can’t wait to see what you make!