Humans of the Islands

Humans of the Islands - Sam Manuela

Sam Manuela 

Psychology Lecturer at The University of Auckland

Cook Islands 

My name is Sam Manuela. I am of both Cook Island (Rarotonga, Manihiki, Atiu) and European (Scottish, Danish) descent. I currently live in Papakura, Auckland and I am a lecturer in the School of Psychology at The University of Auckland.

You recently graduated with a Doctorate in Psychology, how/why did you decided to pursue Psychology? 

As kids, we are often asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always said something like ‘a fireman’ or ‘a doctor’ or whatever occupation seemed aspirational for someone of my age and naivety. The truth was, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was more concerned about having fun with my family and friends.

I figured out that if I gave an answer that was expected of me, I wouldn’t have to sit through their life advice and I could continue playing with my friends.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of the Islands - Sam Ratumaitavuki

Sam Ratumaitavuki

Co-founder of two Mobile Game Publishing Companies & Creator of Fortafy Facebook


I was born in NZ, I'm half Fijian / half European. I grew up in Ranui (West Auckland) and also Logan (South Brisbane) in my teens.

I'm known by different people for different things but at the moment I run one of the most active Facebook pages in the world Fortafy which has nearly 13m likes. Along with being a co founder of a two mobile games publishing companies Fortafy Games which published the biggest indie game of 2015 Color switch which has over 150m downloads and also Perfect Tap Games in which we just released a mobile game called "Chicken Scream" which also went number 1 all around the world.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of The Islands - Sisa Grey

Sisavai'i Grey Uiagalelei 



I am an actor who dabbles in fashion designing, singing, writing, and a few other things.  Recently I wanted to go into MMA and then my husband gives me 'the look' so I go back to acting like I am a MMA my head.  

When/How did you get into acting?

My father is a musician so I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis and other genres of music that a typical kid in Samoa wouldn't really listen to.  We would go to the video store and rent nothing but musicals that some of these musicians were in.  Watching those actors create magic on the screen started a fire in my heart that never went away.  I guess you could say that my dad's love for music brought me to my love for acting.  

Although my love for acting started at a young age, I didn't have the courage to pursue it till after being a mom.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of The Islands - Jennifer Amosa

Jennifer Amosa

Curve Model


I'm Jennifer Amosa, I work as a receptionist and pull double time as a single parent. In between all that I represent a lot of plus size women as a curve model here in Melbourne. 

When/How did you realise you wanted to pursue modelling?

I was lucky to attend an audition for a fashion show where they were looking for plus size women to model in their runway show. That was four years ago and I've been lucky to keep going and be involved with photo shoots and fashion shows. Also expanding my knowledge in fashion and meeting other curve models has been a great journey.

What has it been like being the first Polynesian curve model in Melbourne?

I feel like I'm holding a trophy and saying a speech when asked this question haha but on a serious note, I love it!!!  Representing diversity is what I like, especially when I step out onto the runway or when I see the final pics from a photo-shoot.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of The Islands - Sionlelei (Sina) Mario

Sionlelei (Sina) Mario

Assistant Programmes Officer, Commonwealth Secretariat 

Rotuma, Fiji Islands

Tell us a bit about yourself - What you do / Where you're from / Your Island heritage

I hail from the beautiful islands of Fiji and I am of Rotuman descent. My parents are from the villages of Juju and Noa’tau in Rotuma, where my mother was born and raised. My biological father is Rotuman with Tavueni links and so I have a mixture of Fiji Rotuman culture and tradition. I am the second generation in Fiji, following the shift from my grandparents to seek a brighter future for the generations ahead. I was born and raised in Suva and so have always called Fiji my home.

 In terms of culture, I identify myself with being a modern Fiji Rotuman and this has in turn shaped my social persona and outlook on life and those around me.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of The Islands - Shiva Gounden

Shiva’s story begins on the island of Fiji, in the poverty stricken Ba. He grows up to become a kind, conscious, and intelligent man who’s dedicated his life to humanitarian aid across the globe. It’s no coincidence that his upbringing has influenced his direction in life, as well as his drive to make a meaningful difference. Here he shares his story, from humble beginnings to big ambitions – all in the hope of creating a better world for people in vulnerable situations.

I’m one of four boys brought onto this planet by Sada and Kamla Gounden. I’m an identical twin (though our visions of humanity is the one and the same, our lifestyles and paths to that goal is completely different). My name is Shiva Gounden and I am a human first, Fiji born Indian next and fortunate now to be an Australian.

I lived 15 years of my life in Fiji, completing Primary schooling in the town of Lautoka but originally and proudly a product of poverty stricken villages in Ba (Wailailai and Navoli).…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of The Islands - John Belford-Lelaulu

John Belford-Lelaulu



I am an Architectural Graduate from Unitec's school of Architecture. I am a New Zealand born Samoan, raised in various parts of Auckland but matured into who I am in South Auckland. My parents, at separate times, moved (from Samoa) to New Zealand, the world of milk and honey, in search for a life of prosper. 

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

I attended De La Salle College where my passion for architecture began. I vividly recall running home one day after school in third form inspired by a speech by 'Electric Technology' teacher gave me and told my mother I wanted to become an electrician and she said "Auuuu leai, alu e fai le architecture" ("Auuuu no, go do architecture"). Made me second guess my electrical path so I invested most of my time on where my talents lay, Graphics.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans of the Islands - Gaby Solomona

Gabrielle Solomona 

Receptionist/Actress/Trainee Producer 


I have learnt the pursuit of your dreams requires a lot of sacrifice and in my case being able to work full time and earn more money is one of the sacrifices I have chosen to make because I know in my heart the dreams God has called me to pursue. I know one day my time will come where all my hard work and sacrifices will come into frutation and God willing I will be able to pursue acting and producing as a full time career. However I love that being a receptionist has connected me to so many new people on a daily basis and the variety of responsibilities that come with the role. I get to learn new skills and be challenged so I am constantly growing.more

Humans of the Islands


Tatryanna Utanga


Cook Island 

Tatryanna is currently an Arts student at the University of Auckland.  She is of Cook Islands descent and is very proud of her culture. She comes from a very small family of 5 and insists that family is her number one priority.  

One of her greatest accomplishments was forming the all akavaine/fafafine/fakaleiti dance group the Diamonds of Paradise.  A group of young, passionate individuals coming together and showcasing their talent on an entertainment platform. Through performing and teaching her culture alongside her akavaine sisters, she discovered a new passion, to advocate for her Cook Islands and Pacific LGBTQI community.

These days she actively engages in advocacy for young people particularly those who identify as LGBTQI. Through dedication and hard work, she has enjoyed the many opportunities that has come along her way including holding the title of the reigning Miss Jewel Cook Islands 2016-2018.…more

Humans of the Islands

Humans Of The Islands - Luti Richards

Luti Richards

Creative: Artist, Writer, Media, Spoken-word Poet

Tokelauan, Samoan, German

I was born and raised in Wellington. I grew up in a quiet, little, southern suburb called Happy Valley.  The area was largely a new development of houses over a mountain range that had a valley running through it.  My school was in the valley and my childhood home was situated on one of those hills overlooking the coast.  It sounds like a fairytale and it kinda was.
Funny, as a kid, I used to think that Fräulein Maria lived on the mountain facing my bedroom window because it looked just like the one in the movie ('The Sound of Music').  Every weekend, Dad - an avid fisherman, would go diving and netting for our food by the Red Rocks. Sometimes he took his beloved boat out.  When I was six years old, I remember running around the foundations of our home as it was being built and trying to dart the floor plans which my parents had helped design together.…more