Humans of the Islands

Humans of the Islands - Angela Tiatia

With Samoan and Australian heritage, NZ-born Angela Tiatia is an award winning Multimedia artist. 

Last week Tiatia was awarded Australia's richest women's art prize valued at $35,000, for her video work 'The Fall'. 

What's cool about being a video artist?  

It's exciting and challenging as each new work needs to be approached differently each time. The process is dependant on being very social - so I get to meet and work with lots of amazing people.  

Tell us about some of the themes in your work? 

Wow... a big question... in short... I look at how the Pacific body/place/experience has been stereotyped through images/media/popular culture/art over the last 150 years.  Within this time frame, I explore ways in which I can challenge these stereotypes and create new narratives and imagery. As well as this, I also look at the universality of the human experience and the human condition that binds us all.more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of the Islands - Vea Mafile'o

"Vea Mafile’o is an artist of Tongan, Māori and Scottish descent who
works primarily in moving image and installation...Mafile’o continues to work as
a filmmaker and is co-founder of the company Malosi Pictures. She is
currently developing her first feature film, which is due to be released later this
year." - Ane Tonga 

What is "Digital Launima"? 

The name of this work is "When will I see you again" , it is a digital Launima. A Launima is a term that indicates the length of a tapa cloth/ngatu which is made up of 50 Langanga. This piece is part of my digital Koloa series of works. These works are based on the traditional fine mats, tapa cloths and other forms of Koloa faka-tongthese are made and collected as gifts for birthdays, weddings, funerals and other ceremonial and celebratory occasions.

A Tongan woman builds her collection of koloa faka-Tonga over a lifetime. Often women work in groups making one item for one woman at a time.…more

Humans of the Islands


Joey "Q" Quenga 

Owner/Creative Director of Island Block Radio 



Tell us a bit about yourself 

My name is Joey Quenga but most people know me as “Q”.  I am co-owner of Island Block Radio where I have many hats, producer, creative director, on-air personality as well as program director.  

I grew up in Long Beach, CA., which is a city in Los Angeles County.  

My family is from the village of Talofofo on Guam.more

Humans of the Islands





My name is Sepelini Pati Mua’au and I am a New Zealand born Samoan. I am the youngest of 4, my mother is from the village of Falelatai and my father from Levi-Saleimoa. I was raised in Wainuiomata, completed my Secondary schooling at St. Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt and tertiary education at Victoria University of Wellington. I currently work at Victoria Univeristy in the School of English, Film, Theatre & Media Studies as a support tutor for 100-level Maori and Pasifika students, I also tutor for the theatre programme and write plays on the side.

You have a Master of Arts in Theatre - What did that degree entail and why do you think you were drawn to theatre?

Theatre definitely started off as an interest, like many Samoan parents, ideally they wanted me to be a lawyer or doctor. In 2010, my last year of College, I was fortunate enough to travel to London to perform on the Globe Theatre stage, so my family knew there was something there for me.…more

Humans of the Islands


Marco Alosio



My name is Marco Alosio and I'm an actor. I was born and raised in Wellington, NZ. I am of full Samoan descent. My Father is from Levi, Saleimoa and my Mother from Falefa, Anoama'a. 

How did you find yourself in the entertainment industry?

I've always loved being in the Arts but at the same time, have always been too afraid to admit it. Attending St Patricks College, Silverstream which is a big all-boys school with a dominant rugby culture; there were only around 7 guys in the drama department across the whole school.

I remember needing one more subject to fill up my NCEA schedule and my English teacher at the time (who was also the school drama teacher) said to me, "why not have a go at drama?" I laughed and answered "Hell no miss. All the boys will think I'm gay!". And to that she replied: "I'll get you lunch and we'll keep it a secret." 

I told her she had me at lunch and the deal was sealed.…more

Humans of the Islands



Writer, Director & Actor 



What do you love most, stage or screen acting and why? 
I love them all for various different reasons, but theatre is the genesis of my love of acting and I love it just that little bit more. With film and TV you can reshoot and edit out any mistakes. There is absolutely nowhere to hide with theatre... you are literally out there for the world to see, warts and all. 
Is this one of the first plays where you've been centre stage & the main character?
This is the first solo-ish show I've ever done. I say solo-ish as I'm on stage with a puppeteer. 

What's cool about it?
Ummm.... it's scary as all heck tbh.  I'm really testing myself to see how far I can go and thank goodness I added walking into my daily regime last year or else I'd have to stop every 5 minutes for an asthma pump.  I think the older I get the more I want to get out of doing the same old thing on stage.…more

Humans of the Islands


New Zealand Champion Powerlifter


Beauty & Brawn 

From competing for the crown on the catwalk of Miss Samoa to winning the gold on the Powerlifting stages of the world. Samoan champion Powerlifter, Barbra Auva’a, has flipped the switch on the abilities and strengths of your average dusky maiden pageant queen.

Beauty and brawn has taken her to global heights and she is a little known NZ Powerlifting multi-title winner, but hers is a story that comes with its own share of personal tragedy, trials and triumphs.

Still getting used to the Auckland cement opposed to the Samoan sand beneath her feet, Barbra began her journey on New Zealand soil at the age of 8. But it was at 16 that the ground was swept from under her when she was faced with the tragic loss of her mother who suddenly passed during the birth of her youngest sister.…more

Humans of the Islands



Arts & Culture Programmer 

Solomon Islander 


Tell us a bit about yourself ...

My name is Reina Sutton. I belong to the people of Malaita and Tikopia in the Solomon Islands and when I moved to Te Ika-a-Māui, I settled in Manurewa, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland.

I hold down a 9 – 5 job as an Arts and Culture Programmer with the arts, community and events team at Auckland Council. The rest of the time I’m a practicing artist, curator and collaborator.

How does your upbringing + culture help you with the job you're doing today?

Great question!  My mum taught me patience and to have love for all beings.  You might recognise these sentiments having a biblical feel to them and you’d be correct.  These are just two of the many values that I take with me to help me do my job.…more

Humans of the Islands





Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Jordan Gavet and I'm a Musician, Singer/Songwriter.  My parents both hail from Samoa. Dad's full Samoan and Mum's Samoan/English, but also has a bit of a Portuguese and Tokelauan heritage. My parents are both NZ born and even though my Dad is full Samoan, our surname is French so my nationality has been a FAQ my whole life lol. When asked though, I'll always identify as Samoan. When asked if I speak Samoan, well that's a different story hah! 

My parents moved to Sydney Australia where they got married before I came along, so I was born and bred in Aus. They moved us home when I was 3 months old to Avondale, West Auckland where I was raised around a lot of family. We then moved back to Sydney where I attended high school and I’ve kind of been living between Sydney and Auckland ever since.…more

Humans of the Islands


Jnr Tanielu  / 'JPG' aka 'juxtapose'



I am a multidisciplinary creative. Initially I started as a self taught digital illustrator/ graphic designer, then I made a transition into the art form of painting. I like using various mediums but as of late, acrylics have been my go-to. My artworks are inspired by my interests and memories as a youth of the 90s era.

Both my parents are Samoan, they moved to New Zealand in the mid 70's. We grew up in South Auckland and later moved to West Auckland when I started school.

When/how did you realise you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?

As the youngest growing up and being the only boy with four sisters, I spent a lot of time drawing, skating, and gaming to keep myself occupied. You know just doing my own thing, that’s where I first discovered my interest in art. Art was like the only thing I really engaged with as a student and it stuck with me through my teenage years.…more