Eniselini Ali

The Guerrilla Collection ran a Poetry/Spoken Word Competition calling all young creatives to write/record a 1-2 minute long poem/spoken word piece based on the theme - "IDENTITY".

Eniselini Ali was one of 3 winners for the 2022 Poetry/Spoken Word Competition.

School: Marcellin College

Age: 17

Where I'm from: East Auckland

What I enjoy about poetry:

Poetry is a form of an escape that helps me speak my truth through the power of words. I started crafting my own pieces of poetry at the age of 15 through an extracurricular group in my highschool which I helped form specifically for students to share their voices and their stories, and be heard in a space that is safe. The inspiration behind my piece "What an honour it is to be Polynesian" was from my own personal experiences growing up as the eldest Tongan daughter and the first in my entire bloodline to be born and raised in Aotearoa. I have expectations to uphold almost everywhere I go and being told to control my words for the sake of other people's comfortability; this piece touched on the expectations, the downfalls and the consequences of upholding these expectations and its toll on my mental health, which I am sure many young people of the Pacific relate to. However, I wanted to remind them through this piece that it is still an honour to be a Polynesian. That it is okay to feel distressed and feel emotions which we have been told weren't "real". I wanted to remind them that we are descendants of giants and we belong to the generation of change; that we can be unapologetic in the way we tell our stories because they are OURS and our voices can create a powerful impact no matter where it is shared.

Film Credits

Rodney Tyrell

Rodney Tyrell

‘What an HONOUR it is to be Polynesian’
By Eniselini Ali

What an HONOUR it is to be Polynesian.
but let's face it - we are far from perfect and there’s more than one crisis in our community.

“Ngaahi me’a teke ako mei api, koe ngaahi me’a teke fai ‘i tu’a.”
What you learn at home is what you reflect in public.
But what if Home is just a building with four walls and a roof,
where failure is the flavor of the month 24/7, 365.

Emotions suppressed while we dress in our best
Church gears - Sunday whites.
I was taught to fight -
battles alone,
code-switching from dusk till dawn like a pro.
Set the bar high
Everything on the frontline
Mental health in the back mind
So don’t talk to me about maturity
Polynesian girls become mothers from the age of 6.
It’s inevitable but I'm only 16 and I know poverty like the back of my hand.

And my brothers,
My brown brothers default to dumbing it down,
claiming the title of being a ‘gangster’ or an OG. The ‘real one’.

But one doesn’t get more real than the challenges we face on the daily -
High school dropouts, Domestic violence knockouts,
Drug abuse, obesity and suicide the trending tweets of our gen, and then?
We sweep dirt under rug and repeat
Sweep dirt under rug repeat.

We add to the brown statistic of failure faster than to a list of success.
Don’t even get me started on what it’s like to be a Brown kid in the school system.
This broken system,
White lies fed to brown scholars on empty stomachs.
Stories written about us,
not by us and definitely not for us.

“Home life and school life are two different things”, so they say
But if both places remind us that we are nothing, then what are we?

We are Polynesians.
Living another day in the office.
But we have been working here for far too long.

So it is time that we rise.
For ourselves, the blood of our ancestors,
The cries of our children and those coming after us.
But let us do it all with the power and will of God.

Efeso vahe fā, veesi ‘ua
“Pea ō moe fakaʻakiʻakimui moe angamalu, pea ō moe anga mokomoko ʻo mou fekatakiʻaki pē ʻihe ʻofa.

Therefore, to the young leaders of the Pacific,
hold fast to your identity
Be brown, beautiful, brave and bold
For you descend from greatness, and that legacyyou must live on.
Within every word, every taulalo and every flick of your wrist while performing a tauolunga, remind yourself that
That it is and will always be, an honor to be Polynesian.

For winning the Poetry/Spoken Word Competition Eniselini received:

- $500 Prezzy card

- Online mentoring session to develop her poem

- A limited edition The Guerrilla Collection T-Shirt

- Dance film created to her spoken word poem by Black Grace dancer