telesa series, Uncategorized, writer

The Mata-Lulu Model

This writing thing has given me the opportunity to have some pretty awesome experiences. Like get DietCoke drunk in E.L James hotel suite  in Kansas City with a fabulous group of women writers. Ride to a book launch in Sydney, in style in  sleek low-rider cars and have specialty cakes and donuts made #TelesaStyle. Go back to my old high school Samoa College and talk dreams and books with young people that these books were written for. Meet some of my Pacific Lit idols, chat with them and learn from them. Be hugged by a twelve year old girl who’s read all four Telesa books…”eight times each. I can quote whole sections for you. Because of your books, I love reading now!” Read stories and English homework assignments from high school (and University) students who have studied my books. Receive photos of #TelesaReaders in the Armed Forces, who have taken their books with them on deployment to Afghanistan. Do the first ever in history, author book signing at Otara Market, and be overwhelmed by the alofa, Pasifika creativity and spirit at its very finest. Get handwritten letters from women in Nauru, thanking me for my books and for lighting their writing fire, sharing their poetry with me.

Okay, I could go on and on, but the purpose of this post is to scream about a fantabulous experience I had in Hawaii. ( No, not the Point. No, not late night missions in search of Diet Coke with LOTS of ice. No, not Sunday drives through epic scenery. No, not endless boxes of donuts. No, not the Polynesian Cultural Center. No, not bookChat with Tahitians.) – All that stuff was equally as fantabulous but THIS blogpost is about something else. Or SOMEONE else.

Her name is Jenn Lemalu Meredith. She’s from the same village as me in Samoa but we didn’t really know each other until our blogs collided two years ago. She’s a supermum who lives in Hawaii. And in between finishing her Masters, being the megaBankBoss at her work , raising her family and blogging – she started a photography business a while ago. You can see her work here:

Jenn has been a vital supporter of the Telesa Series from the beginning. She was one of the first people to volunteer to read the Telesa book and put her review up on Amazon. She’s been a #DanielTahi  and #JasonWilliams advocate with her friends and networks AND she’s made me laugh along the way with her FB and Twitter conversation. (and she was NOT happy with what happened with Jason…) She was a key part of the Hawaii Organizing team for my recent trip and had me do a glamour photoshoot with her.

What did that entail? First, she brought her wickedly talented makeup/hair artist, Chantel Kiana Suaava to the house and had her do magic with my sad face and hair. (no easy task, let me tell you…) There’s a reason why my nickname at school was ‘MataLulu…Owl-Eyes, MataOmo’ and its not because my eyes are stunning ‘midnight pools of beauty’. Ha. #WhatDoesTheOwlSay?! ….Chantel was up to the task though and was able to do HarryPotter type wizardry so I basically looked nuthin like myself.

Then we dashed to two different locations for the photos. My Hawaii-Sister Janice Faitala was the very patient assistant who never once rolled her eyes or said bad words. ( ok, she may have thought them silently…or texted them to her bestie but hey, she was the epitome of diplomacy and friendly support, so for that I thank her!) Jenn makes you do all these really weird and painful poses that require a certain amount of fitness and athleticism…okay, I lie. She makes you stand still, kneel, bend, smile, angle your head a certain way, stick your butt out, squish your boobs together ( in my case, non-existent butt and boobs) and smile some more. But because we all know I am incredibly lazy and possess not the slightest bit of fitness or athleticism, I was rather out of breath and faintly dizzy and sore after all the posing. In other words, I would never cut it as a supermodel. *sigh* (Yeah, because I’m not athletic enough. That’s the ONLY reason *wink, wink, nudge nudge*) But Jenn was very professional and encouraging and patient with my whingey, whiney, unfit self because the woman is a genius photographer and can make wonderful things happen – even if her subject is whiney and unathletic. (And matalulu.)

It was a huge relief when the photoshoot was done. Yay! Jenn rushed off to be with her family. Me and Janice rushed off to eat a well-deserved lunch in some air-conditioned comfort. (Sidenote random story…we were reeeeally sweaty by that point, so the priority was the coldest air-con we could find. We walked into four different food places and then walked out again because their air wasn’t cold enough. In Taco Bell, we went so far as to allllllllmost order food but then I wasn’t convinced it was the coldest option available so we left again. Janice was rather embarrassed, “The poor service lady was waiting for our order. I felt bad walking out on her.” I waved my hand at her worries, all fia- blase, “Aagghh dont worry, we’ll never have to see her again, so its okay.” Then 4 hours later, who did we meet at the book signing that night? The lovely friendly woman from Taco Bell who asked, “Were you in Taco Bell today? I recognize your beautiful necklace!” And Janice gave me the #IToldYouSo look…#sorry!! Blame it on stunning necklaces from my mums shop Plantation House!)  Anyway, I spent the rest of the weekend wishing I didn’t ever have to brush my hair or wash my face again…wishing I could just walk around forever looking like a makeup guru worked on me everyday…. *dreamySigh*

Then Jenn showed me  the photos.

I’m a writer, so I’m supposed to know lots of words for every feeling and every occasion. But I’m just gonna shut up and let the photos speak for themselves.


Lani (1 of 1)-4



Lani (1 of 1)-3




Thank you Jenn for a memorable experience. Now I have visual evidence that even a matalulu non-athletic girl can take some decent photos.

Now I’m back in New Zealand, back to reality…as I scrub two weeks worth of sludge off the shower walls, and reflect on my fun all-too-brief fling with glamour photography!

13 thoughts on “The Mata-Lulu Model”

  1. you never cease to make me laugh bahahaha…but yr so right about Jen…being a model (or tryna be) is soooo exhausting and requires a bit of..youth/stamina/patience?? bahahahaha..but look at the end speak for themselves..I forgot to tell you that my Dad flipped when he saw them and said you look like ‘the teenager back then’ bahaha…you’re beautiful anyway w/out all that makeup and glamor but its so nice to see Jen’s work through you..and of course Jan’s awesome assistantship! Love that you’re reliving the whole Hawai’i experience through your blogs..rewinding back in time again 🙂

    1. What are you doing reading meandering useless blogs like mine when youre supposed to be finishing that paper youre writing Lormona!! #SternBossyFace
      LOL you would know exactly what a (bossy) exacting photographer boss your sister in law is…whew, that posing thing IS hard work.
      Yeah, Im trying to catch up with my blog and get all the good Hawaii stuff blogged out before I go back to writing about the boring details of a hermits dreary life in her cave…

    1. You’re the one with the exquisite talent and skill Chantel! Hey, good to see you’ve set up a official FB page. now I have somewhere to direct people searching for your expertise. Thanks again

      1. I am so glad that through this whole experience I got to meet so many beautiful women, (young women) I never met Chantel until Lani came to my house! I had a chance to get to know Lormona ( the tigah..rawwr) and Jenn (the sexy photographer) and so many other beautiful young women from town. See Lani, you made me ‘somebody’. Love you all my young Hawaiian/Samoan Telesa sistahs 4lyphe.

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