She Is - A Poem for International Women's Day

Updated: May 31

By Osanna Fa'ata'ape


For IWD 2021, I was asked to share at my workplace about my achievements and acknowledge the women in my life who have inspired, mentored and supported me along the way.

As a recent law graduate, the contribution of my village, specifically the women, is never lost on me. Aside from the copious amounts of ula loles (lolly necklaces) and over-enthusiastic cheers from the audience, one of the many rewarding aspects of graduating as a Pacific Islander, is embracing the collectivist value that "when one achieves, we all succeed".


I have been blessed with opportunities to learn from many women who have paved the way, spoken words of truth and life over me, and provided spaces for me to grow, achieve and succeed.

So, on March 8th around the work lunch table, surrounded by my highly esteemed community legal service colleagues, I decided the best way to acknowledge women's achievements was to share a poem inspired by, and dedicated to the women nearest and dearest to me: my mother, my grandmother, my nana and my late aunty.

She Is


she is

like the deep and vast moana (ocean)

bountiful and resourceful

she sustains those that reside with her

open and ever-flowing

she can carry the heaviest of loads

without anyone even knowing


she is

dressing to an open wound

warmth and wisdom are sewn into her every word

never getting the credit she is due

still she pursues

in the most desolate of deserts

she goes to great lengths to bring sustenance and strength


to a world that is individualistic

she is resistance

daring to be the living embodiment of the va’a, the vessel

the canoe our ancestors used to voyage through the pacific

to stay connected across vast oceans

regardless of distance

she creates community with the utmost persistence

she makes the unknown feel like home


she is

the architect, drafting the blueprint, closing the deal

she is

the conductor, orchestrating melodies with grace and zeal

she is

the alchemist, concocting an antidote intended to heal

she has the midas touch with any ordeal

she reveals the fields of fruit and flowers

the beauty that grows amongst the barren and arid soil


amongst the thorns

she is the rose

challenging the status quo

wherever she goes

she knows

to speak her mind

and says what needs to be said


she is

capable and competent

generous and confident

cognisant

donning different hats, she adapts

to the changing tides of the ocean’s highs and lows

she shifts her world around others to adjust


with rusty pans and calloused hands

she lovingly meets the demands of her village

she understands the value of community

and cultivating relationships built upon

alofa (love), fa'aaloalo (respect) and unity


emulating that of her way-finding ancestors

she navigates torrential seas with resilience and ease

she seizes the opportunity to make her mark

she sees the slightest glimmer of light in the dark

you see, these are the endeavours that i wish to embark


i am the amalgamation of all who went before

a lineage of trailblazers who opened their own doors

i am who i am because of the sacrifices she made

the courage she portrayed

the faith she displayed

the prayers she prayed


i am village made

the direct result of tongues marked with protest and tears and prayers and songs

bodies that hold stories

stories that hold weight

a legacy of greatness

not left to fate


she stands on the shoulders of all the women

who made the sweetest lemonade out of the most sour of lemons

i stand on the shoulders of all the women

who made the sweetest lemonade out of the most sour of lemons


- osanna lilia fa'ata'ape


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