Monika Duggan was born in Apia, Samoa to a Samoan mother and an Australian father. She was raised in Canberra and has always loved singing but only recently did formal music study at the Tropical North Queensland TAFE in Cairns.
As a child she grew up hearing her father’s collection of Western folk music and her mother’s extensive and beloved collection of Samoan music.
In her songwriting and performance, she strives to appreciate the influences that Samoan and Pacific Islander culture had on her upbringing and the teachings she truly values today.
About the AustraNesia group, Monika Duggan says: “Being part of the Women of AustraNesia choir continues to humble and inspire me and I hope as you’re listening to our music it does the same for you”.
Monika Duggan’s maternal grandmother Ulusagogo Sauiluma, Samoa
Monika Dugan’s family and cultural links to her Samoa heritage are at Sataoa, a village on the mid-south coast on Upolu Island. Her mother was born there in 1960 and raised on her family’s property, where some members still live today.
Samoan culture is very family orientated and is regulated by Fa’a Samoa: The Samoan Way. Along with the immediate family, other major focuses of everyday life in Fa’a Samoa are supporting the extended family (aiga), showing respect for its elders (matai) and maintaining allegiances to religious denominations. These obligations also extend to the many Samoans living and working overseas in New Zealand and Australia and elsewhere.
The extended family is quite wide-ranging and not only includes parents, grandparents and siblings but also cousins, nephews and nieces living together within a village or overseas. In Samoa, when family members marry partners in other villages, the in-laws likewise become part of the extended family unit and in times of happiness or sadness all members come together to help and support each other.
The adoption and adaptation of Christianity in Samoa has been all encompassing. It is one of the few Western social and cultural practices to have been fully integrated into Fa’a Samoa. There are churches of various denominations in each village, with Sunday reserved as a day for worship, family and relaxation. For overseas Samoans, churches often provide social and cultural continuity, which is very important for members of a culture accustomed to being so interconnected and mutually supportive.