Saturday, December 12, 2009

Update on The Green Gecko GREAT SHAVE!

Hey everyone!

This is an update on how my sister and I are going on our quest to raise a total of $10,000 for our friends at The Green Gecko Project in Siem Reap, Cambodia. To date, we have a combined effort of $2,641 - that's just over one fifth of what we are aiming to raise! Thank you all so much who have contributed to the cause already! It's awesome to get your support and we get a buzz with every donation we receive!!

The fundraiser has evolved...

Since beginning our fundraiser we've been asked time and time again, why your hair?? We've even been offered donations to NOT shave our hair! This was a completely unexpected response but as more and more people encourage us to NOT shave our hair off we got to thinking and so the fundraiser has evolved...

It's YOUR decision! For us to SHAVE or NOT SHAVE! - Whichever side is larger when we've reached our goal, we will do! So!

Let us know with your donation! Should we or shouldn't we?

We met up with Michelle from The East And Bays Courier for an interview! Come check it out at this link.

(It's also a brilliant pic' of our lovely lovely locks!)

Ren's been busy with the Franklin Life and The Franklin County News too so keep an eye out for those articles too!

If you haven't had a chance to get to the website to donate, and feel that it might be easier to email us, then just reply to me via email and put a pledge down! We'll happily add your pledge to the blog on the website :) As soon as you have time to get onto the website to donate (or give the money to us or into our bank account) we'll switch the pledge to a donation!

Changesz is behind us all the way! Karaoke anyone?
Changesz is an awesome Youth Movement in East Auckland. It's a gathering of young people that want to see change in their community. They have stepped up to support The GREEN GECKO GREAT SHAVE by hosting A Karaoke Night! It's only a gold coin donation to enter, with food available and all proceeds will be donated to the Green Gecko Project. It would be fantastic to see everyone there - to support the fundraiser - but also the effort that Changesz is putting into the event!

Where: Sanctuary @ Mayfair, 10 Mayfair Place in Glen Innes
When: Friday 18th December Time: 7pm - 9pm
What to Bring:
Your best singing voice and a little change in your pockets to contribute!
Call Us: If you want to come but have no mates :) :)

Just a little bit more on the reason for our cause...
The Green Gecko Project supports more than 70 former street children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is a home, school and family to these kids, all who used to beg on the streets for money, defenceless to abuse, disease and abduction. It is all about empowering the children - helping them out on multi-levels, giving them and their families a means to get back into work, it was never the intention to just feed them. It's about the future as much as the past.

One thing we really love about this N.G.O. is Green Gecko's holistic approach in both the long term health & well-being of the children & their more immediate day-to-day health and care. A donation from you will help meet the needs of every day consumables such as dental & hair care products, soap, washing powder, blankets and mosquito nets which are encompassed in this area of care. The support of community-minded people like you means so much to us.

And finally from us...

We know it can be hard to give at a time like this and we're asking for you to give to a cause that's not even in our backyard. We realise the Green Gecko Project is miles and miles away and cares for children that most of us will probably never meet. We receive emails every day about different causes, from right here in New Zealand to throughout the world and admittedly we end up deleting a lot of them because we 'just don't have enough time' to wade through and support everyone.

All we have to offer to you that is different to those causes is our relationship to you and our offer of thanks for believing in us and in what we believe to be an amazing cause. When we say thank you to those of you who have already given to our fundraiser, we don't just say thanks for getting us one step closer to our $10,000 goal;

We say thank you from our hearts for believing in us.
We say thank you for your friendship, for your love.
And we say thank you for giving those kids that Ren fell in love with - a chance to,
dream about a better future - and believe that they will have one.

We hope to hear from you soon - email, call, pledge or just straight donate on or
We would love for you to forward this onto anyone you think would be interested in supporting us too.

Love from all the hair on our heads.
Ren and Tara

Sacrificing our lovely locks for a GREAT Cause!!

Kia ora koutou!

This is a little crazy, but my sister (Ren) and I have decided to launch a fundraiser for an NGO that's really close to my sisters heart - The Green Gecko Project in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

If we each raise $5,000 - we will both shave ALL the hair off our heads!!

After my sisters' 3 month stint volunteering with The Green Gecko Project, she - and indeed now I, completely believe in the well rounded education and holistic care they provide for the 73 kids currently at the project. My sister was there first hand and learnt all of the kids names, taught them English, got beaten at volleyball by them, picked nits out of their hair, learnt the chorus of their favourite Khmer pop song, was called Ruler instead of Lauren - She just loves them and can't wait to get back there.

Seeing how far the kids have come already is amazing, their futures are so bright now where before they didn't have a flicker of hope. Supporting the Green Gecko Project is very important to my sister and after seeing this passion and dedication in her, I've decided to get behind her 100% and support her by doing the fund raising and shave myself! So please support us! Our hair is very important to us but we're willing to give it up, how much are you able to give?

To support the cause please, please don't hesitate and donate online straight to the cause through our pages on a completely secure online fundraising website.

Alternatively you can deposit into this bank account number, 12-3023-0429567-00, just make sure you leave your name in particulars.

Some people we have spoken to expressed interest in making a weekly deposit (for example) $10 for 10 weeks - a $100 donation made easy! Absolutely! With internet banking its easy to set up a weekly donation limited to a number of weeks - whatever works for you works for us : )

We completely and utterly understand everybody's circumstances are different and appreciate every dollar donated!

Come and see our fundraising pages,
Ren's -
Tara's -

All our love and from every hair on our heads,
Tara and Ren.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The 10 Week Challenge

Well, Milan is now 10 weeks old. 10 weeks since my life was turned upside down. It seems much longer than that. It feels as if Milan was always meant to be here with me and Sif. We've just been waiting for him to come and now, things are complete. We're loving it! hehe. Tell you what though, it's a damn huge challenge! Just because we love and cherish our 'lil boy, doesn't mean everything we do for him is a breeze...

The most challenging thing that I have learnt over these 10 weeks thus far has nothing to do with how to soak the nappies to get the pooey stains out or how to breastfeed the boy without spraying milk everywhere, or even how to read his different signs of hunger, tiredness, boredom and comfort. It's about how to make decisions that will affect another human being so immensely.

Everything I do for my son, affects how Milan will feel. That's a big thing! If I change his nappy now or wait until I finish this blog entry will affect how Milan will feel. If I decide to cram our day with activities and trips about town or we stay at home and busy ourselves with cleaning, play, washing and cooing; Milan will be affected. These are just the little things. What about the big decisions! Within these first 10 weeks, I've had to decide if Milan will be injected with chemicals with the hope to avoid some illnesses, I've had to decide if I will be committing to return to employment - which will pull away from "us" time - even if he will be with me. I've had to decide if I will be giving him my own milk or provide to him a man made concoction of nutrient. I've had to decide if I will be wrapping his little bottom up with the simple option of disposables, or if I will commit time to cloth nappies and all that they promise.

Some things, are simple decisions - I have to sleep less for the needs of Milan. I have to react to his cries of hunger, sleepiness and desire for comfort. I have to do the washing and have to clean our baby boy. The harder decisions are the ones with choices - especially with so much pressure from society looking down on us.

Putting aside the controversy of what is 'best' for baby.
Putting aside the shoulds, shouldn'ts and different opinions on what 'worked' for them.
What will I do?

~Will I bottle or breast?~
~Will I Dispose or Cloth?~
~Will I Immunise or Naturalise?~
~Will I Work or Be Employed?~

I don't know.
There is only one simple decision to make,
I will love.

I hope that's enough to justify all of the decisions that may turn
out not to be great choices I know I will make.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Milan Moala - one month on...

We are completely besotted with our lil' man. He is lovely and we haven't had any problems at all - he only gets upset when he wants something and it's not really his fault that he wants something almost every second of every day! haha. He's just learning how to smile and rewards us with them every now and again - but makes us work for them just the same!

People told me it takes 4 - 6 weeks to find any kind of routine, I'm starting to just get there now, and it's definitely a mission and a half to get everything done in a day. I can sooo see how people could go round the bend a lil' with a new born. I have the amazing whanau support of my parents and sisters, so am grateful for that and living with them means that I only have to organise dinner on one day a week and have plenty of helpful hands to rock a little boy to sleep.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Returning Milan's placenta to the earth

So the story with the tree is...
Each of my siblings and I have a carving of a native tree that's on the wall of our home. This is part of my carving. My tree is a Puriri Tree. This tree was chosen for me from my mother to reflect my personality - one reason is because the Puriri Tree bears colourful flowers and fruit all year round. It is a source of nutrients and food for native birds.

Milan's Placenta has been buried at mum and dads with a Puriri Tree planted on top to mark the spot.

May Milan's placenta give nourishment to this Puriri rakau,
May it symbolise Milan's connection to this land,
May the Puriri grow strong and tall,
And may Milan grow strong and tall as well.

May Milan's Pito give connection to both our whanau,
May it symbolise our love for Milan,
May Milan grow in strength, love and compassion within his wairua,
Knowing that we will always be there for him.

For our new baby boy;
May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels always rest their wings
outside your front door.

He honore he kororia ki te Atua,
He maungarongo ki te whenua,
He whakaaropai ki nga tangata katoa,
Hangai e te Atua he ngakau hou,
Ki roto ki tena, ki tena o matou,
Whakatongia tou wairua tapu,
Hei aroha nui,
Hei whangai,
Hei tautoko hoki,
mo matou tamaiti tane.

Peace and Blessings to our baby boy.
Arohanui, Maungarongo, whakamanawa hoki ki a koe, e tama.
Mir i Blagoslovi, volim te Milan.

... and the story with the tree continues...
So! Mum got the tree to plant over Milan's Placenta and left it near the hole that was dug by my brother - right beside the fenceline. Unfortunately, on the other side of the fence were some hungry goats who thought some Puriri leaves and branches was exactly what they wanted for breakfast!

Needless to say the beautiful little tree that was meant to resemble Milan's connection to the earth turned out worse for wear for the burying ritual. We're hoping it will bounce back with the nourishment of the placenta under it over the next few weeks...


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The definition of motherhood

Week One.

Motherhood I have very quickly come to realise
is not what I had anticipated.

I have not become my mother
nor my grandmother.

I am not like my sister or aunties or cousins.
Motherhood is not a job
that you undertake and perform.

It cannot be learnt through a course
or copied from another.

My techniques for mothering will never be exactly
the same as another persons.

This is because I am myself.
I am indeed a unique soul
with a unique personality and wairua.

Therefore, how I choose to mother
is completely dependent on who I am as a person.

How I hold my child, how I smile, cuddle,
encourage and teach;

I will do so through the lenses of who I am.

Having come to this realisation has meant for me
two opposite responses;

Utter relief.
I do not need to compare myself to anyone
simply because there is no one to compare myself to.

How I parent is right - for me and my child.

Utter terror.
There is no course I can take,
no book to read, no guide to follow.

How I parent is different to anything
anyone has ever done before.

Luckily, I am also surrounded
by amazing mothers.

My mother


I can take lessons learnt;
thoughts shared;
experiences given;
gain knowledge on how they mother,
and in turn, understand how I want
to mother my own child.

Child Birthing - a whanau affair

Baby Milan Moala was born
on Tuesday 28th of April 2009.

Every birth is a different experience - for us, it was a family affair. This was not just one woman experiencing the transition from pregnancy to labour and birth; but a combination of woman, partner, mother and sisters breathing, moving, swaying and focusing on progressing through one of the most amazing experiences of our life. The last 2 days of our pregnancy journey began a little earlier than anticipated. The women in my whanau typically birth later than the normal 40 week period, so I wasn't anticipating the onset of contractions for another week at least. On early Monday morning - the 27th of April, I awoke with some funny feelings in my puku and wasn't quite sure what to do about them. I woke Sifa up just so that I didn't feel so alone and was greeted by so much enthusiasm and anticipation that I couldn't help laughing and relaxing. We went back to sleep, sort of, and the contractions slowed down to nothing.

The Monday morning sun greeted us with a few more 'feelings' very similar to dull period pains but nothing much more, so Sifa decided to head off to work and I remained at home with mum. Through out the day, I felt niggles and pains that didn't really seem like much, just enough to be uncomfortable and aware that something different was happening to me. It was amazing to have mum with me most of the day - acknowledging that what I was feeling was all fine and that relaxing was the best thing for me to do. We didn't know if this would progress to labour or if it would be a niggle that keeps on niggling for another 3 weeks. Later on that night, we got the answer to that query.

Sifa, Ren (sis) and Mum were playing Monopoly around the kitchen table after dinner. I had politely declined; knowing that Sifa was a guru at the game and wouldn't let it rest for days if he won against me yet again. Ren and Mum being none the wiser gaily entered into the competition to get a whipping like no other. As I browsed emails and internet sites at one end of the table and the game was progressing at the other, those niggles slowly but surely became a bit stronger and longer than what I had experienced through out the day. A fruit tea didn't settle it, and after about 1-2 hours; I was beginning to need to breathe purposefully to get through each onset as they started to create a pattern = 1 minute of pain to 5-10 minutes of calm.

It felt as if things needed to get done - I had neglected to pack a labour bag as I had assumed I would be 1-2 weeks late like my mother and sister Mon. I was due on Thursday - so thought I had 3 days at least to sort things out. But no, it seemed that tonight would be the night. I made a quick phone call to Carol our midwife to let her know what was happening while Ren and Mum packed a bag up for me from a list I had made on things I thought I would like to take. And then, we settled into the night - without sleep. I had no desire to attempt to fall asleep and didn't think I would be able to even if I tried, so we decided to put on a movie instead - 3 movies later, the contractions were slowly progressing to becoming more and more uncomfortable and downright painful but they weren't getting any faster.

Monday night turned into Tuesday morning and still painful contractions, but no show of it getting any closer to the finish line. At this stage, I just kept thinking about what a friend of mine had told me. "Just imagine labour to be this really long stretch of road, you can't see the end of it, but you have to trust that there will be one, and every contraction is one more jutter bar that you're getting over - one jutter bar closer to the end of the road. All you have to do is concentrate on that next jutter bar." I told Mum and Ren to head to bed - thinking that they needed to conserve their energy for me to draw on later. Sifa was stuck with me and we endured through the rest of the night getting through those contractions one jutter bar at a time.

On Tuesday morning, mum called Carol (midwife), and gave her an update on how things were going. Carol suggested that she come out and see how I'm progressing - she was soon with us and after a quick check below, informed us that I was 4 cm dilated. To me, that sounded like a damn small amount for the length of time I had been labouring. At this rate, I'd need at least another 12 hours just to get to 8 cm! Everyone assured me that it would be fine and Carol left us to continue on with the contractions with the knowledge that everything was fine and that I could go into the Pukekohe Maternity Unit at any stage. From there on, it seemed as if things started to blur in my mind. I knew Sifa and mum went to bed and their roles of back massaging, holding hands and offering encouragement were taken over by my two sisters - Mon and Ren. I also knew that the pains were getting worse and worse, but they weren't getting very much closer. I was starting to despair and my attempt at maintaining that vision of 'one jutter bar at a time' was beginning to feel hopeless. I confessed to mum that I really didn't know how much longer I could take this. Mum and my sisters talked about what to do and they agreed that it was time for me to make the move to the Maternity Unit. Hopefully the car ride and the change of environment would be good for me - if not to speed things up maybe to distract me from the pain.

We got to the Maternity Unit at 2pm and the show finally came away. I was starting to get quite distressed now and it was a relief to see Carol again who was very calm and relaxed. This surprised me as I was balancing on a fine line between panic and insanity - not only from the pain, but from the lack of sleep and loss of energy I had experienced over the last 16 hours. After an amazingly large vomit of what I didn't even know was in my stomach still, I was helped into a hot shower. The water running over me was pure bliss. I was told afterwards, that Carol and mum realised that I was going into transition at this point. I didn't feel any different - just that I was exhausted and had lost all focus on anything but getting over each jutter bar.
After another inspection from Carol, I was proven wrong - that it didn't take another 12 hours to get to 8cm - only 4 hours! Being 8cm dilated was such a relief to me - I felt that I was finally starting to get somewhere and that the end just might be coming.

Carol organised the birthing pool and when I submerged into it, I felt a huge sense of pressure release from my body. Not only was the weight lifted from my body, but the heat from the water seemed to relax the contractions and I really felt relaxed for the first time in 18 hours. Sifa was holding my hands, and unfortunately, I had neglected to cut my nails, so they were digging into him every contraction. Mum was on my side with a hot wet towel and every contraction she would massage my lower back with it, helping me get over each of those jutter bars.

From mums guidance and verbal encouragement, I focused on Sifa as if he was the only thing in the whole world who could help me and we breathed together. In, out, in, out. slowly breathing through every pain. I was blessed with having 3-5 minute gaps between contractions - which is unheard of in stage 2. My sisters arrived and sat on the bed behind us - offering almost silent and amazing physical support. At one point, I proclaimed that I had had enough, this was just ridiculous, no one should have to do this and told Sifa that we were leaving. Carol told me to harness that anger and use it to get baby out. So I did.

At 5.43pm, baby Milan Moala was born. One moment I was pushing with all my strength and couldn't even see the end to this cycle of breathing, panting and pushing and then the next moment, Carol was telling me to hold my child and not let his head go under the water.

I was astounded. This baby had come out of me - I had created something so - real - from my own body. It's a surreal experience. Everyone was crying and I couldn't understand why, there was nothing to cry about, he was perfect.
I could not have imagined a better labour - with having the strong support of my partner, mum and sisters all guiding me through what was the most difficult and most amazing experience of my life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The ultimate community workers balancing act: life and community

39 weeks preggies and counting! I have completely neglected any recording of my pregnancy experience which is a real shame, as I'm normally so intrigued by keeping notes, journals etc on how things are going in my life, but I have begun to experience something over this pregnancy that I have never really contemplated before in my life - the balancing act between personal and public lives of a community worker.

I have left Glen Innes for the time being and have stepped back into my whanau - physically, emotionally and mentally. This is the first time that I have actually let go of my community role and put myself and my whanau first. It's really quite a foreign concept for me. Before becoming pregnant, I would be quite content to have a schedule of 3-8 events on my day off with a blend of community initiatives, whanau events and personal activities. Choosing community needs over whanau was a simple measure of whether someone in the whanau could pick up my slack, and there more than often was.

Now, the tables have turned. I have a child growing in my puku and no other person in the world is more important to this child than me. From 39 weeks ago and forever on, I will always be the mother and main carer of this child. The father is important, I know this. But I have realised now just how important a mother's role is in her childs life. This has rocked me completely. I cannot juggle this one! So I have done the only option that I could see available to me, I have put myself and my unborn child first. I have stepped away from my community role and I am now focusing purely on what is best for me and for baby.

Aside from all of the pregnancy issues - morning sickness, healthy eating, growing bigger, loss of energy, kickin' kickin' kickin' baby, mobility, etc etc - this loss of professional role has been my biggest challenge thus far.

For years, I have been an advocate of equality for women and all that that entails within work places and career choices. Now, I find myself very content to not be a super woman - just right now, and learn about this domestic lifestyle I have never quite mastered.