The Good, The Bad and the Funny (maybe some ugly too) of a Non-Pacific Islander dating a Pacific Islander

Written by Anonymous

 

SURROUNDED BY CULTURE

One of my favourite things about dating an Islander is the beautiful culture. There’s so much love and respect for everyone (maybe a side of gossip too). For me, it’s been important to learn about my partner’s history, because it will be a part of our future babies history too, and to know what his family came from to get to where they are now. It’s a history filled with sadness (Way to go Germany and New Zealand… assholes) but they have a proud manner about them.  Stand tall and keep fighting for their country and beliefs.

I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a house where my in laws are more confident speaking their first language, and although I did classes I’m still way too shy to try and converse with them. This means that I’m constantly hearing the language and I know that it will be passed onto my children. It’s important for me that my children know who they are as a PI/Pākehā (mostly as a PI) and a big part of that is knowing their language, knowing where their grandparents and ancestors are from and traditions. 
 

ISLAND TIME

When you Mother in law calls you from church to say she’s finished and can you pick her up, she’s lying. You’ll wait outside for 10 minutes and then go ask if she’s even there (feeling extremely embarrassed and like the church will get struck by lightning), only for her to say they’re just finishing their meeting and she’ll be 2 minutes. You’ll still be waiting in the car an hour later.

Expect the phone to ring at any time of the night and usually it’s just someone wanting to catch up/gossip. This goes with unexpected visits too. Oh you’re just heading to bed at 11pm? Let’s stay up and chat until 1am. 
 

CHURCH

Speaking of church, when your in laws wake up at 4:30am to start cooking to’ona’i and you’re still sleeping… nah you’re not sleeping anymore. And your house is going to smell like garlic for days. You might get excited about chop suey every Sunday for the first month (a big pot that lasts days) but after that… the novelty wears off. 

Church means that everyone involved has more of a social life than you. Especially when big events are coming up. Everyone’s coming and going at all hours. Getting dressed up, not getting dressed up. There’s always something happening! 

 

FAMILY

When we started dating, it was big news for EVERYONE. “Oh did you know x got a girlfriend? AND SHE’S PALAGI!” They always had to let people know I was palagi. Always. ALWAYS. I found this really awkward. I didn’t go shouting from the rooftops that I was dating an islander (we’ll get to people’s responses to me later).

I was never a fan of KFC (I know what you’re thinking) and the first time I met the extended family, there was KFC. “Oh nah she doesn’t eat KFC” “Why? What’s wrong with her?” What’s wrong with her?! WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER?! All over KFC. This was what I was to be known for. This was how I was to be remembered forever?! I eat KFC now (come at me, hot rods) but this moment will forever be burned in my mind. There’s something wrong with me?!

One of the best things about PI families is when they have a get together, they bring food. And they always make sure you’ve got enough to eat (you’ll have to roll me anywhere once I’m done eating) and their hospitality is top notch. Need an after lunch nap? Not a problem, here’s a cushion. Need a cuppa? Milk and sugar? Even if they’ve never met you before, you will be made to feel welcome. You might not understand a word of what’s being said, but you will be cared for.

 

THE WEDDING

In my extended family, only aunts and uncles have been invited to weddings. But in his family EVERYONE is invited. Hello exploding wedding budget. Where do you draw a line? Who pays? What if I only want no more than 2 people at my wedding (that’s not a typo. Less people = more cake for me). 

Got any small town uncles? Chances are they’re racist like mine. I can not imagine anything worse than putting them in a room with my PI family. I’ve actually considered putting on invites “if you’ve ever used the n word in your entire life then you’re not welcome”. I would think they’re smart enough to choose “not attending” if they think so little of people of colour but I know they feel obligated to come. If you’re reading this, don’t feel obligated. Stay home. Or come, open your mind, meet some beautiful people, observe a rich culture filled with love and stop being so fucking racist.

 

Elders

I was raised where if I disagree with something, I’m going to let you know. If I think something is stupid/unfair/ridiculous, I’ll let you know. I do this with my family. We have debates/discussions/arguments all the time. I feel like it’s healthy and how you expand your views by hearing other people voice their opinions so passionately (and maybe a little angrily). And this is where I struggle. I’m often biting my tongue or sitting there thinking “why isn’t anyone speaking up? Why isn’t anyone standing up for themselves? Why do we just go along with things we don’t agree with?” Often times I’m screaming in my head at the unfairness of situations. Or the rudeness of people who don’t deserve respect because they don’t show it to those around them. Those bottled up emotions/feelings/opinions/thoughts need to be let out somehow or it turns into unhealthy emotions. 
 

Money

Money always brings out the ugly. I know this isn’t specific to any one culture but it’s my post and I’ll write what I want to. I’ve had his family members I’ve never met before call and ask me for money. I’ve observed people manipulating others into giving them money based on a situation they got themselves into. Why you need the latest cellphone when you can’t afford your power bill is beyond me. Sometimes I just want to get a megaphone and shout THIS HOUSE IS NOT A BANK. I don’t like family coming to visit and having this expectation that they’ll be taken wherever they want and have everything paid for. There’s being a good host and then there’s being a greedy guest. Look at the cost of Auckland then think about whether we’re all actually rich or just barely keeping afloat. The amount of times I’ve heard “We live for now and not the future” k well don’t call me when your family now has no money left cause I’ll be over here saving for my future. Don’t send yourself broke for people who sure as fuck aren’t doing the same for you.

 

Kids 

One of my fears as a future white mum to some future multicultural babies is how do I protect them from everything my partner experienced? How do I set them up for a world intent on tearing them down? How do I stop people using them as a statistic? How do I get people to see them as more than the colour of their skin? How do I get teachers not to see them and assume they’ll be below standard because of their skin colour? How do I set them up for a world where I have more privilege than them? How do I explain it when they become aware of it? How do I mould them for a world that should mould for them? How do I explain that their dads culture makes me feel like the outsider filled with envy because there’s so much beauty in it? How do I tell them that my culture is to take things that don’t belong to them and tell everyone else to deal with it and adapt to white expectations? How do I explain that their language is dying and it’s so important for them to learn it and be proud? To spend time with their grandparents and learn their roots and language? To take their grandparents love and knowledge instead of their money? 


My Friends

I mentioned before his family’s attitude to me. Here are some (memorised) quotes from my friends.

“Oh his parents will be stoked he’s dating a white girl. They’ll see you as a rich white girl. Set for life!” His immediate family has never asked me for money so… shut up. 

“That’s not what I expected you to end up with” okay firstly, he’s not a “that”. Secondly, my jungle fever has been common knowledge for years so I don’t know how it’s unexpected. Just cause you tried to sleep with me and I rejected you but you said you’d tell everyone we did anyway… is this getting too personal? 

“I can’t wait for your wedding! There’s going to be so much yummy Islander food” a) I’m pretty sure you’re not on the guest list and b) you’re not picking the caterer (unless you’re paying. Call me if that’s the deal). 

“I hate how Samoans at uni are just on Facebook. And they’re probably on scholarships. It’s so unfair.” Back up, racist white girl. You just ended our friendship right there. You’re more likely to get a scholarship if you’re white so don’t come for Islanders. 

“I can’t wait for you to have caramel babies” they won’t be caramel. They’ll be PI. (Although we’ve privately… not so now… talked about how we hope they have blue eyes). 

“Oh PI’s hit their kids with anything… right? *laughing*” why the fuck are you asking me? That’s such a stereotype and IM WHITE. I didn’t grow up in a PI household. I just live in one now. That does not automatically make me an expert.

“I never expected you to end up with an Islander” well I never expected to be friends with a racist but here we are (or were. You’ve been cut).