Lake Macquarie History

Juanita Purcell- Loli - Interview transcription

Date Recorded: February 2015

Place: Lake Macquarie

Interviewer: Could you please tell me your name and where you were born?

Juanita: My name is Juanita and I was born in Samoa.

Interviewer: What part of Samoa?

Juanita: Western Samoa.

Interviewer: Could you tell me a little bit about what your childhood was like growing up in Samoa?

Juanita: Well, like any other childhood really. Grew up really happy, nice life, you know, life was relaxing, laidback, the only problem was that I had to leave Samoa to go to school in New Zealand for better education, because at that time um the education system wasn't as good as it is now. Not a lot of teachers were well educated, weren't educated enough to give us a good education that we need, so most of us, most parents would try their very best to take their children outside, find some way of moving their children to New Zealand for schooling cos that was the only country that was easy to migrate to. So my parents came to New Zealand in 1967. I was only ten at the time so we moved there but I had to go back because my parents wanted to go back and so we, I came back to finish education in New Zealand in um when I was thirteen. And so that's where I went to school; and it's very hard for our people to come to Australia so New Zealand was the choice to go to school. And when we acquired citizenship there we were able to come to Australia.

Interviewer: Did your parents live in New Zealand the whole time you were being educated there?

Juanita: No, they had to go back home, to you know look after the lands over there and, and our possessions, but um I lived with family, I lived with older siblings that were there that came before me, and so I lived with them.

Interviewer: It must have been very hard to leave your parents.

Juanita: Oh hard, very hard. So we kept visiting them, now and then, when we have the money, because we were able to go to school and get part-time jobs, so that we can save up and go back to visit our parents. Because we didn't have them with us.

Interviewer: What prompted the move to Australia and Lake Macquarie in particular?

Juanita: Ok well, my husband got a job in Sydney, a job offer from the company he was working with. So he moved and worked and wanted his family over, so I had to move with my daughter, I only had one at the time and then we lived in Sydney for five years. Had most, some of my children there with me but then um I, we came here one Mothers Day and fell in love with the place. It, Newcastle to me at the time when we came was almost similar to New Zealand and Samoa, it was like, it wasn't as fast as Sydney and I wanted to raise my children here, especially the Lake Macquarie area. So it's because in Samoa I live on the coastal area of Samoa, where we have the water all the time, the sea. Lake Macquarie was almost similar, so it's like home to me.

Interviewer: So how different was your childhood to your children's childhood in Australia?

Juanita: Oh very different, it's very different. We try to um teach them the way, our cultural ways and traditions but it's very different because of the influence from other children that are raised differently. We teach our children to respect anyone older than them and a lot of our ways that we try to raise our children in that cultural but because of the, very different, um the influence from friends, from even from everywhere in Australia, so it's very different. But because there's a lot of Samoans in the area we all raise our children the same way, so it's kind of easy and yeah not as hard but it's still Australia and it's different, things are done differntly, very different. We, not only food, the way we, the the school, like going to school, and um the relationship between teachers and students, and stuff like that. Everything's different. So we, and our children in Samoa, aren't well we weren't in Samoa, we weren't called racial things, you know like names and that, we don't do that over there because we're all the same. But coming here is very different. So and we have to put up with a lot.

Interviewer: And is that something that you feel your children have had to put up with?

Juanita: Oh they have to, sometimes , they, they're always in trouble with the teachers because of that. And um sometimes they say they've been treated unfairly because of their colour. The teachers don't believe that, they say ‘no,no' but still they feel that way because of what they're, they're experiencing at school and stuff like that.

Interviewer: So you were mentioning the Samoan community. So are there strong Samoan community groups in this area?

Juanita: Very strong.

Interviewer: Any in Lake Macquarie?

Juanita: The whole of the Hunter, we have a strong community. There's a few, there's about two hundred families in the Hunter region. And some families who are half, like the father would be English, like white Australian and the mother would be Samoan or another culture, like be a mix; but full Samoan families be about two hundred in in the Newcastle area. All aro.. like Raymond Terrace Mai… up, yeah from from the Maitland area to Lake Macquarie.

Interviewer: And do you have days where you celebrate certain significant days?

Juanita: Yes, we we get together twice a year. We have our Independent celebration in June, that's a big celebration and our Christmas. We all get together and do Christmas carols and yeah.

Interviewer: So they're strong family days, those days?

Juanita: Yes, everyone comes and if we have children living in Sydney working they will all come here, yeah.

Interviewer: Have you had to make [a lot of changes?]

Juanita: Well not a lot because living in New Zealand is almost the same as here. But still there's a lot of, there's some changes raising our children, where we, you know us Samoans we discipline our children very hard, like we really discipline our children. But in the Australian law we cannot do that because they would call it physical abuse. Where as with us, spare the rod and spoil the child. We always, we always discipline our children harshly but it's because we want them to be good citizens. And so that they can stay off the streets, and stuff like that. We, I think anyone would have an understanding of you know… the children are hardened because they are raised in Australia where the culture is different and you know other, their friends have been raised differently, they tend to follow and think because they have the right, they learn in school that they have the right, they can ring up the police if, if, if the punishment or discipline at home is hard. So it's very difficult for the parents to, to raise their children around these, these um, laws and regulations that Australia has. And so we're confused really, because we want our children to be raised the way we were raised. You know you get hit for a little punishment so that you can learn, but our children, they know that they, we can't do that, so then there's conflict, and so it's very hard. And then they run wild because they know they have the right, then the police, you know, then they think we're not teaching them anything. So therefore, they think well then society will teach our children but then why aren't they letting us teach our own children and discipline them the way we were disciplined by our parents, because we, we're alright. So we think well then if we do it this way then our children will be alright. So, that's a very, that's a big problem here in Australia with our children and parents. A lot of parents are not happy about that.

Interviewer: Sounds like a clash of cultures almost.

Juanita: Oh yes, clash. And, and um in New Zealand, because well now I don't know about, but before when we were there, we were allowed to discipline our children the way we feel. Unless you really hurt a child, then that's not good but we don't intend to do that. That's not the intention, it's, it'sdiscipline the way we know that will teach a child. And because we all, well most parents, all parents love their children and we love our children too and we want them to be good citizens and yeah. Good Samoan-Australian citizens.

Interviewer: You want the best for them.

Juanita: Oh yes. And yeah so, but that's a difficulty. Not only, we're not, it's very difficult to come to this country and also it's difficult to raise our children the way we, we, we see our children should be raised.

Interviewer: You were saying that when you were young in Samoa education was very important. Has that carried over in the Samoan culture in Australia? Is education still an important aspect?

Juanita: Oh it's very important, even now, it's very important,. We want our children to have good education and good jobs. So they can have a good future. There's no future in living on the streets, or you know having no jobs and that's why even in Samoa if children don't go to school they get, they get…there's a punishment in the villages for people who don't send their children to school. And um, it's either that or they go to work in the plantation. As long as they're doing something, so yeah, it's very important to be educated.

Interviewer: When you think about Samoa can you put into words what it is you miss about your life in Samoa or Samoa?

Juanita: Um, well, Samoa is very different from Australia, very different. The education is now the same because we've adopted the Australian way of education system. But the country is still the same, still different from Australia, in a way that we're, we're free to raise our children the way we .. and we Everyone goes to church, everyone's a Christian. No one stays home or you will get a fine from the village chiefs. You have to go to church, everyone believes in God and here you're free to go where ever on a Sunday. In Samoa everyone goes to church, no shops are open on Sunday. So that's different, like you know, you don't do anything that's not, that's um not Christlike. In, in the villages, on Sunday morning, everyone gets dressed, go to Church. No one does any work, no work is done on a Sunday, that's different from Australia. And um and everyone, has … all the children, and even adults, everyone, everyone goes to church. Everyone takes their children to school, everyone goes to, but when it comes to disciplining your children, all children are raised the same, everyone knows that if they don't do this they will cop it. Everyone you know everyone knows, all the children know. And then everybody …

Respect is the most important thing in Samoan culture. You have to respect your older, the people that are older than you, especially our elders. Like in Australia, you see elders getting beaten up, we don't do that. its .. We look after our old people, you wouldn't see any old people in the homes, nursing homes here. Because all Samoans, it is a sin for a Samoan to put their old, their parents in a home. You have to look after your own parents. And there is a nursing home in Samoa, that's run by nuns but that's for parents who didn't have children, like they sadly but there aren't any children. Some nephews and nieces look after them but because there aren't any, most of the people have migrated out here and New Zealand, so therefore the old people are put into the home run by Samoan nuns. Yeah but still, you wouldn't … it's hardly ever, doesn't happen. We don't put our old people in homes. It's a disgrace, oh yes.

Interviewer: Overall, has it been a positive experience immigrating to Lake Macquarie?

Juanita: Oh was it was, it was, it's because now that I'm here I'm working as a welfare worker and I help a lot of people. That's, that's a good experience for me. Seeing, you know, having that client satisfaction, people are getting their, having their needs met, from the work that I do and some of my colleagues. It's a good feeling for me and I'm happy because if I didn't come here I wouldn't be working in this field and I wouldn't be doing this job, helping a lot of people. So that's a good experience for me.

And also raising my children here, it's, it's good in a way that they know, they're able to know a lot of other different cultures. Like um and also they're learning from that too, that it's very different. They're amazed at how people, how young people treat older people here. They're so amazed, they say ‘oh, you know, it's very different'.

But it is a good thing for me to come here, even though that it's very hard to come to your, to Australia, it's very hard for our people to migrate here. Every Samoan comes through New Zealand cos it's easier, and then acquire citizenship and come to Australia. It's very hard to come here because we are not a war zone area, we don't have wars, we don't have those things that are um enable other people to come here, we can'r come that way. We don't have any compassionate grounds to come to Australia, so we try to come here to migrate for a different experience, for education for our children, or other things.

When you work here you get more money so you save up to go back home. Every Samoan born here I'm sure saves up to go home in the end. I'm planning on when I retire I'll go home. I don't intend to live here. But we're only here for an experience and to raise our children in an environment where there's good education and all that because it's important to us. But um yeah that's the only good thing, but it's hard to come here, even for visitors. Some visitors are allowed to come here, some visitors aren't so. But it's a beautiful country, it's just that's hard to come into.

Interviewer: Juanita, we might leave it there. Thank you very much.

Juanita: You're welcome.

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