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

Humans of the Islands


Maria Jessie


Cook Islander

My name is Maria Jessie, I'm of Cook Island & Maori decent & I'm the founder of 'Intuitive Hands'.

A little bit about yourself? 

Well here's a little. I was was brought up by my mother in Herne Bay/Ponsonby, in what I like to refer to as "the glue pot era". She came over to Auckland as a late teenager from Aitutaki, the most beautiful atoll in the pacific. Met a rather dashing Scottsman, (whom like many other papaa at that time had a rather strong fetish for Duski maidens) and voila... Here I am.

What inspired you to start massaging?

I was so fortunate to spend a couple of years living at home with my grandparents in Aitutaki as a young child.  And that is where I believe I was passed on the gift from my grandmother to help others through massage. She was a natural healer through medicinal plants and would treat everyone in our family and all over the island for many things.

Something special happened to me while I was in her care.…more

Humans of the Islands


Celina Sosefina Yandall 

Entrepreneur / Personal Trainer / Radio Host


My name is Celina Sosefina Yandall. I’m a Samoan girl born and raised in Long Beach, California.  I’m a personal trainer, a radio host for Island Block Radio, a singer and aspiring actress, and the baker and owner of Sweet Nina’s Cookies

How did your business Sweet Nina's Cookies start? 

2008. I was a junior at a private high school when I started baking cookies.  I was playing volleyball year round and private school was already expensive, so my mom made up a cookie recipe for me because she wanted me to sell cookies to sort of help out with the funds for school and volleyball.…more

Humans of the Islands


Gina Keali'inohomoku Bowes


Tahiti/ Tonga/Hawai'i

Talofa! My name is Gina Keali'inohomoku Bowes. I am a voice actress based in Los Angeles. My Pasifika heritage hails from Tahiti, Tonga, and Hawai'i.

After earning my degree from UCLA in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics in 2002, I worked as a Microbiologist and Molecular Geneticist for about a year. After my first son was born, I took a voice over class and fell in love with the art! I then decided to hang up my lab coat, trade my microscope for a microphone, and went after a voice over career.

One of my favourite voice over roles has been the voice of Barbie for Mattel! It was a dream come true to voice such an iconic character. Currently, one of my favourite roles is voicing sports promos for the Pac-12 Networks. I was a Pac-12 athlete at UCLA, so getting to work with the Pac-12 Networks holds an incredible amount of meaning for me!

When I first began working towards a voice over career, I was simultaneously pursuing on-camera work.…more

Humans of the Islands


Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started hair dressing?

My name is Celeste Agnes Nannette Read. That is a really European name for a girl from the villiage of Toomatagi in Apia. I was born in Pago Pago and then raised in Western Samoa until the age of 9, where my entire immediate family moved to Hawaii to support my mother at university and for a more progressive life. I have always been a resilient and resourceful child with a strong rebellious streak, and so at the age of 14, I was sent to live with my Palagi father in New Zealand. Arriving from Hawaii to Taumarunui was an eye opener, but I went with it, believing I would be there for a year. We soon moved to New Plymouth where I still live today.

Leaving school after 6th form was tough as it meant giving up on university and becoming an art teacher. I chose to become a hairdresser much to my Mothers dismay. (Not going to University was a big deal).…more

Humans of the Islands



Fine Arts & Visual Arts Students 



Katharine: We’re New Zealand born Afakasi’s. Half Samoan from Mum’s side and half European from Dad’s. I’m the eldest of three girls. We initially grew up in Te Atatu North but after a little shuffle around, we’re now living in Grafton. I keep busy now days with a lot of study and work. I’m currently a second year Fine Arts student at Whitecliffe School of Art and Design and I’m working part time fixing people’s Internet at a telecommunication Centre. Busy, busy, busy!

Jessie: I sit nicely in the middle of the Mayo sister clang. I’m in my last year of studying Visual Art’s at AUT and work part time in retail. Like my sis, lot’s of our time is spent on study and work but I think if we ever get spare time these days we love to explore, check out art galleries and chill on our back deck listening to music.

What inspired you both to want to become artists?  

Growing up we were constantly surrounded by creatives.…more

Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - Natasha Finau & Saione Greer

Natasha Finau & Saione Greer 

LEI CAFE Owners/Managers 


Saione - I was born in Tonga but grew up in Australia and have now been living in New Zealand for 30 years. I started my own business 25 years ago and it’s been apart of my journey ever since. This one with Tash; this is the latest and most exciting thing. It’s all pretty much self-taught with many learning’s along the way. We’re both strong believers in Christ and for me, as well as being a business learning experience it’s been a spiritual one too. We’ve done a lot of stepping out in faith and it’s gotten us to where we are today.

Natasha - I’m the middle child of 7 and I’m a younger sister to Saione.  I am a very proud Tongan and Christian so this café represents a lot of who I am.…more

Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS: Nicole Whippy, Actress


Tell us a little bit about yourself... 

I was born in Suva where we lived with my grandmother for the first couple of years of my life until we moved to Botany Downs in East Auckland, NZ. I spent my schooling years in Halfmoon Bay where we were probably the only Fijian family in the neighbourhood although there were a few other Pasifika families with kids who we became good friends with. It was fun. Lots of war games on Pigeon Mountain, dancing to New Edition and eating too many Van Camp chocolates because our friends Dad worked at the Factory.

I always knew I wanted to be an actor. I took part in every speech, poetry and book reading competition at school because I loved talking. Probably a little too much if you asked my teachers but it's all helped me later in life. I starred in every school play from playing Delilah in "Samson and Delilah" the biblical musical at Primary School to Olivia in  "Twelfth Night " at Macleans College.…more

Humans of the Islands


Isadora Blake 

Body Artist 



Bula everyone, my name's Isadora Blake and I'm a makeup artist living and working in New Zealand. I was born and raised in Fiji, come from Fijian and a mix of European heritage. My father is from Udu Kabara in Lau, and my Mother is from Levuka she's of European Fijian heritage.

I have 5 brothers and 12 sisters. 7 of the siblings including myself live in New Zealand, 2 in Australia and the rest live in Fiji. 

My maiden name is Bulatiko. I married Benjamin Blake in 2010 whom I met in Fiji late 2005 and moved to New Zealand in 2008. We have a 4-year-old girl.

When/How did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in Body Art?

In 2010 I studied makeup artistry at The Makeup School (TMS) in Auckland and graduated with a diploma in Professional Makeup. It wasn't until a couple of years later I realised I wanted to do something more than just beauty makeup application.…more

Humans of the Islands


24 year old Tongan, Niuafe Malupo owns & runs the Niu Cakery in New Lynn.

Find out how he got started!