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! 

Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - Spencer Papali'i

PIPA Student 
I'm currently a 3rd year degree student at PIPA (The Pacific Institute of Performing Arts)  I grew up in west Auckland and went to local primary and intermediate then attended Avondale College. I'm the eldest of 5 boys. My father is of Samoan descent and my mother is of Fijian descent. Both were born in their mother land and moved to New Zealand at a young age. 
You're currently preparing for your solo show O A'u - can you tell us a bit about it?
O A'u is all about me. It explores the ideas of culture, religion, and even sexuality. 
You said in another interview that you created your drag persona to help deal with past struggles - can you tell us some of the struggles you've experienced? 
One of the few things that I experienced and struggled with growing up was bullying.  It wasn't that I got beaten up or physically harmed, it was the words that hit me the most.…more

Humans of the Islands


Lila Taulapiu

Founder of TAMĀ - Pacific Scripter Word Art Business 



My name is Lila Taulapiu, I am married with 4 children and I’m a grandmother of 1, soon to be 3. I worked in tertiary education holding various roles for 12 years and made a transition into HR, which I'm currently doing on a contract basis alongside my own business, TAMĀ. My mother is from the village of Savaia Lefagā and my father is from Samatau - my Samoan heritage I am very proud of.

TAMĀ, what inspired you to start it? 

I've always enjoyed the idea of business. I think one of the things that intrigued me about it was the possibility of a role that allows me to be balance family needs as a mother and invest in something I’m passionate about. For myself as a Christian, I really feel the drive for this is a faith calling from my heavenly dad hence the name TAMĀ, which also inspired my Dad, Mutimuti, who was very much an entrepreneur and determined soul.…more

Humans of the Islands



Miss Fa'afafine 2017 & Marketing Executive at Digicel 


My name is Charlize Leo. I am the youngest out of 8 children, I’m 27, I grew up in To’omatagi, I’m a marketing executive at Digicel, and I love watching movies. Everything that I like has something to do with Hollywood. My favourite movie overall is ‘The Hours’ with Nicole Kidman and Merryl Streep, Julianne Moore. Yeah, I just love that movie.


Congratulations of winning the Miss Fa’afafine Pageant 2017!  What was that whole experience like for you?

Well, it really took 7 years in the making of course.  Last time I competed was 7 years ago and the experience was umm, I guess my focus was on winning. But not to forget that at the end of the day we’re human beings so, the thing about the contestants is that you know I’m always available to help out and they were much younger than me, and some were older but a lot more experienced.…more

Humans of the Islands


Will Hafu 

Owns/Runs Hafu's House & Co Manager/Coach of the Sports Academy Tonga 

Kingdom of Tonga  

I’m Kiwi born and bred out in West Auckland and both my parents are from Tonga. In the last two years I came back (to Tonga) for the 7’s, originally to help coach, but when I got here I played for a little bit too. 

I was coaching by myself at first, helping the local teams, then was approached by a New Zealand company (CSM) to start up the Tongan side of the academy, helping kids get scholarships into NZ teams. We work throughout the schools and take the elite kids and help with coaching etc.

We go and video the rugby games, pick the guys that we want and do highlights. We train them separately from the other kids and from there we try to get contracts and pair them up to other schools in New Zealand. It gives them a chance to better their education and to do rugby.…more

Humans of the Islands


Rose Fangupo 

Fitness Trainer & Owner of 'Coffee Post' in Nuku'alofa 



Originally born and bred in South Auckland, my family (husband and kids) have been in Tonga for the last 8 years.  I’m a mother of five.  We came here for our 10th wedding anniversary and were supposed to only be here for a year but we’re still here 8 years on.  My Mum and Dad are also both from Tonga.  I'm from a family of 8 and am a middle child.  My family have been really supportive of me and my husband, without them we would not have made it this far.


Running Fitness Training programmes in Tonga

I started doing training because it was something I loved and got paid to do.   

While I was having babies I was training. I’ve always been health conscious. My aunty who brought me up had breast cancer and my family has high obesity, diabetes and cancer.

When we came here, there was nothing running at the time. There were fitness classes, but there weren’t group classes and boot camps.…more