• INSPIRING ISLANDER - JOHN BELFORD-LELAULU

    INSPIRING ISLANDER - JOHN BELFORD-LELAULU

    From South Auckland to New York, the Philippines and Chile - a young Samoan architect and his group ‘MAU’ have been working on new ways to house communities of colour around the world. Raised in South Auckland as one of twelve siblings, New Zealand born Samoan, John Belford-Lelaulu, is one of the youngest Polynesian architects to use his skills to bring positive change to indigenous people in need. With a big heart for his Samoan heritage, strong ambition to learn and the desire to help the community and people he grew up around; John’s goal was to use his specific skills to make a social impact for his people.  {{7302}} “Poverty is a real thing. It’s happening in our own back yard’s and a lot of us aren’t even aware… …I feel it’s important, as a young Pacific Islander, to bring solutions to these situations because we see these issues through the same lens that our people see it”.  In 2015, as a fresh architecture graduate, John started to explore a variety of architectural approaches that different organisations were using. He was first exposed to social intentions whilst working with ‘The Roots’ on a project that allowed them to create mobile education labs for youth groups in South Auckland. This experience challenged him with the idea to integrate creativity and design for a good cause. “It made me think, if we’re doing this here in New Zealand, I’d love to learn from different organisations abroad; which was always my intent after studying.” {{7329}} He did just that. Weighing up options on whether to travel to Scandinavia, Sweden or New York City for research and volunteer work, John stumbled across ‘Open Architecture’ (previously known as ‘Architecture for Humanity’), an international organisation. “I thought if I wanted to do it, I’d better dream big and do big.” With no guaranteed work before he bought his one way ticket to New York, he found a role as a ‘Project Coordinator’ for mobile shelter facilities created for the chronically homeless in New York City; 100% voluntary. {{7331}} “I was like - Boom! That’s what I want to do. The project masterplan was a network of community gardens in homeless shelters that provided agricultural educational training for adults and open markets that allowed homeless residents to sell their product as a means of income, but also an income to upkeep, maintain, and extend the community gardens. That network was then connected by a number of "mobile education trailers" that provided, fun, lively, education outlets for children living with the homeless system.” Whilst volunteering in New York and working in hospitality as a local bar tender, an opportunity came up for a workshop in Los Angeles with 72andSunny, a marketing and advertising agency. “It was a week long workshop around creating an online tool that exposes the creative classes to underprivileged communities and also communities of colour. They were targeting how to diversify the creative class. We came up with an online tool that broke down each of the creative roles within a cultural moment."  {{7334}} With another cup of knowledge at hand and an even bigger vision ahead,  John then went on to accept an invitation to the Phillipines as part of an international outreach programme. As they embarked on this spontaneous trip, they encountered many villages that sparked inspiration to create youth dormitories, island cultural centres and other similar hubs that would be beneficial for the locals. Having seen the lifestyle they lived with his own eyes, the trip evolved into a passionate life changing moment for John in wanting to improve the living conditions of the poverty stricken locals.  {{7307}} “The experience was absolutely humbling. It was then and there at that moment, while I was standing on top of these rice plantations and looking down at the rest of the village; that was like my clicking moment. That clicking moment where I knew that this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.” He describes it as Humanitarian Architecture (or more commonly known as ‘Social design’). This meant more holistic and systemic approaches to social issues such as poverty, inequality and natural disasters.The drive to create an environment for people to use their own knowledge and skills within architecture and design was something that he committed to kicking off. Fortunately around the same time, Unitec had created a scheme they were running called the “Unitec Bold Innovative Scholarship”. The scholarship entailed 5 thousand dollars, an additional 5-6 thousand dollars for operational costs and ran for 3 months for anyone that had an innovative idea. Without hesitation, John took the opportunity, pitched his idea and from that, ‘Mau Studio’ was born. “The innovative idea was not necessarily starting up a studio, but about coming up with an innovative methodology. It’s more about ‘how can we come up with more a collaborative environment and how can we start learning from each other?’” In between laying the foundation for Mau, John went to Chile to work with Habitat for Humanity who partnered with an organisation called ‘Bringing our children home’. {{7317}} That organisation worked closely with hospitals, different institutions and social support networks who also work closely with families that have children with physical and mental disabilities. Habitat for Humanity worked with these families to provide better living conditions. The project/house John volunteered to work on was for a single mother with two children living at home; one of which was diagnosed with Asperger’s; a developmental disorder affecting ability to effectively socialise and .communicate. {{7327}} “Essentially there were 11 volunteers that were on board and we were planning on extending the house by two bedrooms. Throughout that week we put a concrete floor down, the walls, the roof and the interior lining. The way we set it up was in groups that would volunteer to complete different parts of the project. They phase everything out in different stages, which is very similar to what we want to be doing with Mau Studio in the Phillipines. {{7312}} That was why I went over to Habitat for Humanity; to learn about how they worked as an organisation and it ended up being a lot more than that for me. It just showed me, deep down, that these are the reasons why we should be doing this Humanitarian work. Not only for that family, but also for the volunteers too. {{7319}} These people showed humility, empathy, and a willingness to actually help. As much as I learnt from the actual build itself, I actually took away a lot of life lessons. It really re-instilled my faith into humanity.” {{7323}} Acknowledging that humanitarian architecture/design hadn’t yet been supported within the educational system, it encouraged John to plant that seed and to plant it in the ‘non-profitable’ side of architecture. “Something we said right from the beginning was that it’s a lot bigger than Mau Studio, it’s our future. How do we start influencing, inspiring and teaching the next generation of designers?” The methodology at Mau was created to provide incubators for high school students and professionals to begin designing and building humanitarian projects both here in New Zealand, Samoa and in the Philippines. “I feel like that’s what we need. Especially us as Pacific Island people. It’s more in tune with how we think which is more experiential, more culturally driven and has more of a meaningful social purpose. We think family and community and our education system doesn’t encourage us to do that or at least doesn’t support that kind of thinking.” {{7338}} With a support system in place, Mau Studio is now currently in the process of imbedding these into the curriculum, starting with De La Selle College, and Unitec, 2018. “In all my schooling years I’d heard of a number of academy’s; sports, trades, dance, you name it. There just wasn’t anything for the creative’s.” This means investing time and a sense of hope into relationships with communities in need and working closely with them to create improved environments and living situations. {{7342}} “For now, it’s a matter of being able to bring the people, projects and places together in order for the system to work, not only here in the heart of New Zealand, but also internationally, starting in Samoa and the Philippines.” John is currently in the Philippines discussing Mau’s first construction phase of a learning and play area at a church in Baguio. Pastor Lonzo and his team have already started excavating so the discussions around the cost and which local contractors and engineers will lead the build are well under way. A new approach to architure couldn’t be more timely than this one.  “It started off big. And it’s still very big. But this is only the beginning.” Don’t blink when watching this space! Go and check out maustudio.org. By Hanalei Temese

  • INSPIRING ISLANDER - IKITAGA MALO

    INSPIRING ISLANDER - IKITAGA MALO

     “Knowledge is Power” A women’s passion to change the lives of Fijian children through education “I believe that no child regardless of age, gender or social background should be deprived of their basic human rights, I believe in making a difference in life to help educate, trust and eliminate poverty”. {{7250}} Ikitaga Malo’s passion for the charity began when she was a little girl. A video of the late Princess of Wales Diana holding a helpless child sparked a fire in her to help children. She made it her mission to be the voice and make a difference for the children of Fiji.   A 30 year old from Matuku, Lau in Fiji and co-founder of EduFiji Kidz, Ikitaga is the second youngest of seven children and comes from a humble family. Both her parents are highly educated and hardworking citizens who instilled in their children the exact same values that saw them become successful in their respective fields in Fiji. {{7253}} “My parents taught me, it is important to be of service to your people and country you are born in. I’m thankful that my parents made me understand the value of life and culture”. These teachings allowed her to build a strong foundation for her own family and more importantly, herself. She started off as a volunteer educator in Fiji, and had seen first-hand the education system from beginning to end. In Fiji, children are a precious gift from God and Ikitaga felt it was her duty as a Fijian citizen regardless of where she goes or may be in the world, to give back by paving the way to building a solid foundation for any child’s future through proper education. {{7255}} She is no stranger to kids having had two beautiful boys at a young age. Yes it is taboo in the Fijian culture to be a young teenage mum, however, that did not stop her from pursuing a career in early childhood education. Her boys are her pride and joy along with her supportive and loving husband. She migrated to New Zealand in 2009 and studied Early Childhood Education and graduated with a Certificate which provided her with a sound understanding of the running’s of an early childhood centre. {{7257}} All through her studies, the volunteer stint in Fiji that ignited her passion to help the children back home ran deep in her blood and she never once lost sight of her end goal . “It is critical that a child is given the right learning tools to help develop them as confident and competent learners”. This led her to setup a charitable trust – EduFiji Kidz . An initiative started by like minded individuals wanting to acknowledge the importance of grassroots education. {{7259}} EduFiji Kidz provide professional development for Early Childhood Educators in Fiji to help inspire children to want to learn and give them wings to fly. The Trust was set up with the help of co-founder Highlanders Super 15’s player Patrick Osborne who shares the Trusts vision. Another big influence with the trust is Director Mrs. Angii Leevers, whose determination and shared passion for children and early childhood educators became the reason to have her lead the Workshop Team and be an integral part of EduFiji Kidz. EduFiji Kidz held their first workshop in Fiji in 2016 with a successful response from local teachers. A team travelled from New Zealand to Mokoni village with one goal, to empower and enrich lives of teachers for a better change, a better Fiji and most of all a new generation. {{7261}} The participants were teachers from 10 kindergartens in the Nausori area and were held at the school hall in Mokoni village. The workshop involved spending time with the teachers on the floor, seeing first hand interactions between teachers and students, providing teaching strategies and sharing knowledge on child development. The eagerness that the teachers showed to inspire the children was an overwhelming feeling to witness. To show the their appreciation and utmost gratitude, the teachers said vinaka vaka levu (Thank you) the best way we as Islanders know how to  - by performing a traditional ceremony to close the 3- day the workshops. {{7263}} With the Trust being only 2 since its inception it still has its hardships. We continue to explore options for funding future workshops as most of the funding to date has come out of our own pockets. The Trust is an extra activity aside from our paid work, so most of their free time is absorbed by the Trust. Albeit exhausting at times, the members of the trust persevere forward and the end product is rewarding. Ikitaga’s parent’s advice “determination and hard work will get you through” echoes through her head whenever she feels the wait of the world on her shoulders. {{7265}} Three quirky things about EduFiji Kidz co-founder Ikitaga Malo *  I would sell lollies in boarding school for the sake of breaking the rules and would give the money to my desk mate for her school holidays * I am an adrenaline junkie, I love anything to do with outdoors, i.e.: sky diving and pushing myself to the limit. * I love being different and off the charts a bit, I know and believe I sound like Beyoncé and Whitney put together but no one will tell me otherwise.

  • INSPIRING ISLANDER - NINA NAWALOWALO

    INSPIRING ISLANDER - NINA NAWALOWALO

    Nina Nawalowalo is a proud Fijian Stage Director and was recently awarded the Senior Pacific Artist Award worth $20,000 at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards. She is a theatre director with a reputation for making memorable pieces of theatre that reflect her Pacific culture and European theatre training – like the internationally acclaimed Vula and Masi, last year’s breakout success The White Guitar, and the more recent Marama.

  • INSPIRING ISLANDER - OPETAIA FOA'I

    INSPIRING ISLANDER - OPETAIA FOA'I

    OPETAIA FOA'I - FOUNDER OF TEVAKA, SONGWRITER, PRODUCER, SINGER, GUITARIST, PERCUSSIONIST Born in Samoa, and raised in New Zealand with parents from the small Islands of Tokelau and Tuvalu, Opetaia Foa’i is the creator, composer and front-man of “Te Vaka”. Over the last 20 plus years he has released 9 albums of original music, heavily influenced by the culture and traditions of Polynesia. He has toured with his group, Te Vaka (a talented group of musicians and dancers from across the South Pacific), to over 40 countries around the world telling the stories and sharing the culture of the South Pacific.  {{5810}} Described as “one of New Zealand’s finest songwriters” and “a true son of the Pacific”, Opetaia won the Senior Pacific Artist award in 2005 for his contribution to Pacific Arts. He has received numerous awards for his music and performing with Te Vaka has represented New Zealand and the South Pacific at Prestigious events all over the world, including the Beijing Olympics, Rugby World Cup in Paris and Commonwealth Games. In December 2013 Opetaia signed with Walt Disney Animation Studios as a songwriter for the musical animated feature film “Moana" (a movie set in Polynesia 2,000 years ago), working alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights) and Mark Mancina (The Lion King). Moana was released in the US on November 23rd 2016 to rave reviews, topping the Thanksgiving eve box office sales for 2016 and going on to be nominated for a number of awards, including 2 Oscars. {{5806}} Opetaia is currently working on a number of new projects along with preparing the band for performances around the world in 2017 and 2018. At the 2017 Vodafone Pacific Music Awards he was awarded the 'Special Recognition Award - Outstanding Achievement' after a very special opening tribute performance by SUPA (SaintzUP Performing Arts). {{5808}} Read more on Opetaia here & follow him on Facebook here 

  • INSPIRING ISLANDER: LINDAH LEPOU

    INSPIRING ISLANDER: LINDAH LEPOU

    Lindah Lepou has long made her mark as a Pacific artist across many genres - as a soul singer, award winning designer and multi media artist. Her many ventures in life have taken her from the runways of Australia and the Pacific to the stages of Europe, but at her heart will always be her Samoan gafa and lineage, which has shown itself in her many stories on stage, sound and screen. This is one chapter in her story that celebrates her mutli dimensional genius.

  • MY WORLD - PIRI WEEPU

    MY WORLD - PIRI WEEPU

    Piri Weepu on moving from the Hurricances to the Blues, getting in shape & finding out about his Niuean roots!

  • Pua Magasiva on Love & Life

    Pua Magasiva on Love & Life

  • MY WORLD - TOKS FALE & TAMA TONGA

    MY WORLD - TOKS FALE & TAMA TONGA

    The Underboss Toks Fale & The Bad Boy Tama Tonga talk wrestling & life in Japan ...

  • Black Ferns Captian - Fiao'o Faamausili

    Black Ferns Captian - Fiao'o Faamausili

    Detective Constable Fiao'o Faamausili gives us a little look into her world from being a boss on the field to being a boss on the streets.

  • MY WORLD - Alanna Smith Miss Cook Islands 2017

    MY WORLD - Alanna Smith Miss Cook Islands 2017

    Alanna Smith tells us why she entered Miss Cook Islands and what she gets up to outside her tiara and sash. 

  • MY WORLD - Cat Tuivaiti

    MY WORLD - Cat Tuivaiti

    Cat visits Tonga for the first time with her husband Jimmy and father Otulea and shares a bit of her world with us ...

  • MY WORLD - Te Kohe Tukaha

    MY WORLD - Te Kohe Tukaha

    Actor Te Kohe (TK) is in Tahiti for the Va'a Championships and takes some time out to share a bit of his world with us ...

  • MY WORLD - STAN WALKER

    MY WORLD - STAN WALKER

    Stan shares his world with us from his Papakainga in Ruatoki and why he loves getting away down there.

  • MY WORLD - KAEA PEARCE

    MY WORLD - KAEA PEARCE

    Kaea shares her world with us, getting her start in the Royal family, the biggest highlight of her dance career, getting to tour with her sister and more ...

  • MY WORLD - ANNA CODDINGTON

    MY WORLD - ANNA CODDINGTON

    Anna gives us a peek into her world and shares about growing up in Raglan, then coming to Auckland for the first time, discovering her Cook Island heritage and more ...

  • Inspiring Islander - Lakita Morris-Meredith

    Inspiring Islander - Lakita Morris-Meredith

    Lakita Morris-Meredith at just 17 is the only female American Football referee in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 2017 she also became the first female and youngest ref from Aotearoa/New Zealand to officiate at the IFAF Women's World Championship held in Canada.  Lakita grew-up with Gridiron all around her. Her dad, Paul Meredith, played in local team 'WildCats' and represented New Zealand in their national team, the SteelBlacks (previously IronBlacks).  Although Lakita tried some other sports like soccer, it was always gridiron which attracted her. But, being a girl she wasn't allowed to play even though she says with a laugh, she "could've smashed those boys". Lakita instead had to put-up with being a 'watergirl' at the games, while all the time asking questions about the rules. This led her into beginning as a ref at the age of 15. Now at the age of 17 she is in her third season and an inspiring islander as the only female gridiron referee in the country.

  • MY WORLD - Cougar Boys

    MY WORLD - Cougar Boys

    The Cougar Boys share a bit about their lives and how they've got to the point now where they can give back & shed light on important social issues ...

  • Miriama Smith on Fresh

    Miriama Smith on Fresh

    Miriama Smith talks getting her start with Shortland Street, loving her role as a brown woman CEO in Filthy Rich & living in the country ....

  • BEULAH KOALE - My World 2013

    BEULAH KOALE - My World 2013

    We go back with Beulah to his humble beginnings in Otara & his start in acting ...

  • MY WORLD - Tommy Nee in Niue

    MY WORLD - Tommy Nee in Niue

    "Kumi mo lagona e fakaaloga" Find and FEEL the love. Tommy Nee on overcoming depression and reconnecting with his roots in NIUE through music.

  • Joe Naufahu - Khal Moro on Game of Thrones Season 6

    Joe Naufahu - Khal Moro on Game of Thrones Season 6

    Tongan Actor, Joe Naufahu shares some details on the preparation for the show as well as his family and their big support on his career.    

  • MY WORLD - Common Kings 'Lost in Paradise' Tour

    MY WORLD - Common Kings 'Lost in Paradise' Tour

    The Common Kings were on tour in New Zealand earlier in the year so we stopped by to catch a glimpse of their world while on tour! 

  • James Rolleston - My World

    James Rolleston - My World

  • MY WORLD - FASITUA AMOSA

    MY WORLD - FASITUA AMOSA

    Actor & Comedian Fasitua Amosa takes us back to Savai'i, Samoa & shares his families saofa'i (matai/chief ceremony) that both him and his father were part of.

  • MY WORLD - Robbie Magasiva - BTS of Wentworth

    MY WORLD - Robbie Magasiva - BTS of Wentworth

    Robbie Magasiva on being in award winning Australian drama "Wentworth" playing prison guard Will Jackson.

  • MY WORLD - ARDIE & NEHE

    MY WORLD - ARDIE & NEHE

    Rugby super stars Ardie Savea & Nehe Milner-Skudder share their world with us.

  • MY WORLD - JEFF HUNKIN

    MY WORLD - JEFF HUNKIN

    Jeff Hunkin, host of The Naked Choir shares how he got into singing, growing up in Welly & more ...

  • TYSON PEDRO - MY WORLD

    TYSON PEDRO - MY WORLD

    UFC Light Heavyweight fighter Tyson Pedro shares his world ...

  • MY WORLD - Ladi6

    MY WORLD - Ladi6

    Ladi6 shares her world with us while on tour ...

  • MY WORLD - ANIKA MOA

    MY WORLD - ANIKA MOA

    Singer & presenter Anika Moa gives us a little glimpse into her world ...

  • Sir La'auli Michael Jones Knighted for services to the Pacific Community and to Youth

    Sir La'auli Michael Jones Knighted for services to the Pacific Community and to Youth

    He was the first person to score a try in the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, one of the legends to have worn the Auckland, Manu Samoa and All Black jerseys. "I'm a product of a village," says Sir La'auli Michael Jones.  Sir La'auli Michael Niko Jones has been made a knight companion for being a driver of economic and social development for Pacific people in New Zealand and the Pacific region. Known as one of NZ's rugby greats, Sir La'auli Michael Jones (known as 'The Ice-man' for his precise clinical rugby play) will now also go down in history as a Knight having been awarded this top accolade on the Queens Birthday Honours list.  While he was awarded an MNZM for rugby in 1997 and inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2003, it's been his work off the field that's earned him the Knighthood, as a key player in community and social development initiatives in the region.    He was the man on the ground at the forefront of campaigns to help devastated villages in Samoa with the Cylcones of the early 1980's, and then again at the coal face of the damage in Samoa and Tonga with the 2009 Tsunamis, getting aid to remote parts of the Islands.  He is the founder of the Village Community and Youth Trust in West Auckland, which has been working to keep more Pacifica youth in school, as well as the Village Sports Academy.  As a founder of the Pacific Advance Senior School in Otahuhu, and initiatives like the Pasifika Advancement Office at AUT, Michael has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to see Pasifika youth fulfil their educational potential.  'It does take a village to raise a child and that's part of who I am" he said of this KNZM award     Congratulations Sir La'auli Michael Jones

  • SARONA SNUKA aka TAMINA from WWE

    SARONA SNUKA aka TAMINA from WWE

    Krit catches up with his cousin Sarona who happens to be Superstar WWE Woman Wrestler "Tamina" Snuka - daughter of Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka.

  • SAVELINA FANENE aka NIA JAX from WWE

    SAVELINA FANENE aka NIA JAX from WWE

    Krit caught up with another WWE Superstar wrestling cousin - Savelina Fanene aka Nia Jax in Brooklyn, New York not long after she'd been drafted to the WWE roster ahead of Monday Night Raw!

  • MY WORLD - General Fiyah

    MY WORLD - General Fiyah

    General Fiyah shares his world with us ...

  • MY WORLD - SALA & SHAYNA from SURVIVOR NZ

    MY WORLD - SALA & SHAYNA from SURVIVOR NZ

    Sala & Shayna from Survivor NZ share their world, what they did before Survivor & how they're finding being on the show! 

  • Inspiring Islander - Benny Wenda

    Inspiring Islander - Benny Wenda

    “I decided that if I stayed, I would will be killed. I didn’t know where I would go but I prayed and said to my people ‘Today I will leave you with tears, but one day I will come back and you will smile’. If I escaped alive, maybe West Papua can be free.” - Benny Wenda That night, Benny Wenda escaped prison through a ventilation system, and travelled through the West Papuan mountain ranges until he reached the border to Papua New Guinea. Benny hid along the border for two weeks before receiving help from friends to cross and attain a fake passport, which would eventually take him all the way to the United Kingdom. Who would have thought that raising a flag in the Pacific could have you sentenced to 25 years in prison and almost assassinated three times? Benny Wenda will tell you this is exactly what happened to him in West Papua before he escaped in 2002. In the name of self-determination for his people, Benny has spent the last 13 years tirelessly advocating and informing the world of the ongoing genocide right here in the Pacific. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since 1969, when the “Act of Free Choice”, or as the West Papuans call “Act of No Choice” referendum was held. From a population of around one million people, a mere 1260 were chosen to vote, Benny Wenda’s father was one of them. “They were held at gun point to vote. When they said ‘Indonesia’ you were to put your hand up and stand. If you were voting for Papua you remained seated. Those who voted for Papua… Some of them had their tongues cut out, some were dropped from helicopters.” - Benny Wenda.  Subsequently, Indonesia took control of West Papua, and has capitalized off its natural resources ever since. The treatment of West Papuans during Indonesia’s occupation has been a silent atrocity. 500,000 men, women and children killed for trying to be free. For trying to live peacefully as an indepenent nation.  “West Papua is a Pacific issue, that’s why I’m always coming back to the Pacific – but no body knows, especially the new generation. That’s why I call it a “secret genocide” committed to the people of West Papua. 500,000 men, women and children killed, and the Indonesians get away with impunity. Journalists and media are totally banned, no one hears about any of it. They don’t want our pacific brothers and sisters knowing about this,” – Benny Wenda.  Back in West Papua, Benny was selected by his people to be a tribal leader. This responsibility meant he could use his power to lead his people towards independence. As he lead a peaceful rally in 2002, Benny raised the morning star flag and was arrested on the spot. He was charged with a 25-year prison sentence.   “I was targeted because I was a leader of the movement. I was arrested and put in prison and handcuffed for two weeks in a small dark room.  I went to court seven times, there were no witnesses and no evidence. I would ask the judge, what is my crime? Where is the evidence? Who is the witness?”  - Benny Wenda After all the court hearings which were never in his favour, Benny then had three attempts made on his life by other prisoners and guards. By this point, Benny decided his only option was to escape, and so he did. Three months later Benny’s wife and daughter were smuggled out of West Papua and joined his mission to fight for freedom. In 2003, he was granted political asylum by the British government.  “When I came to the UK I tried to explain the situation, but people had no clue what West Papua was or where west Papua was. It was so frustrating, I thought I would leave and people would already know what was happening, and I realized nobody knows.” - Benny Wenda Benny set up the Free West Papua Campaign, which undertook a ‘Freedom Tour’ to raise awareness of the ongoing issues in his home country. The tour visited the US, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. In 2009 Benny launched the International Lawyers for West Papua in the hopes of developing a framework within the international legal community to outline the illegality of Indonesia’s occupancy in West Papua. He has been working all day every day for over a decade to free his people from genocide. West Papua will always be Benny’s home, and when it is safe it is his dream to return. “We are not here (UK) looking for a better life, we are here on a mission to one day return home. That’s what I tell my children – we are here for safety. One day we will go back and help our people.” “We are part of the pacific family. We are still fighting colonialism, discrimination, racism. the pacific has a moral obligation to help. The pacific region cannot be free until West Papua is free. Join the Pacific coalition for West Papua. You have the ability to educate the people around you – social media is a great weapon. One of the strongest. You have the power to make change, and you will be proud one day when we are free.” - Benny Wenda      

  • MY WORLD: TOFIGA FEPULEA'I

    MY WORLD: TOFIGA FEPULEA'I

    Our fave comic superstar Tofiga aka Aunty Tala aka Uncle Sam aka Faikakala shares a slice of his world on the Opening night of his new solo show 'I Gan't Beliv it' 

  • MY WORLD - Genah Fabian

    MY WORLD - Genah Fabian

    NZ Female Fighter - Muaythai/MMA -No.1 Australian Muaythai ISKA WW -No.1 Sth Thailand WW •Fighting out of AKA Thailand, Phuket.

  • MY WORLD: FRANKIE ADAMS

    MY WORLD: FRANKIE ADAMS

    Frankie Adams shares her world with us! 

  • Inspiring Islanders: Fenton Lutunatabua

    Inspiring Islanders: Fenton Lutunatabua

    Fenton is a writer, photographer, media relations expert and climate change activist based in the beautiful islands of Fiji. Through his work as the Pacific Communications Coordinator with 350.org, he’s worked extensively across the region and the world, elevating  the voices of people at the frontlines of climate impacts , particularly on our land and on our people – the Humans of the Pacific Islands.  I am tough curls, chocolate skin, and deep brown eyes. I am both land and ocean, and I am neither. I am neither island nor city, and I am both. I am the scorching sun and the dancing moon. I am the woven ibe and the cane couch. I am the beach and the taste of salt and sea, and I am the wild waterfalls and the quiet of streams and shade. I am taki circles of kava and mango skin stained fingers, and I am craft beers and a belly full of falafels I am Bata flip-flops with my initials carved in them, and I am old dirty chucks and a faded blue passport. I am bright bula shirts and shell necklaces, and I am dinner jackets and dress shoes. I am salt, lemon, and cawaki, and I am salt, lemon, and ceviche I am curry eaten with my fingers, and I am Deepawali consumed with my eyes. I am two-minute noodles and fried casava, and I am sashimi and vegemite sandwiches. I am praise and worship and favorite bible verses, and I am golf on Sunday and a beer by the beach. I am filters on snapchat and hours on instagram, and I am handed down tabuas and gifted Masi. I am the iTaukei without the deep roots, and I am the deep roots without the entitlement. I am the susu madrai with the ika tavu aspirations, I am both product and origin, I am both then and I am now. I am the child of Fiji with footprints across cultures, and I am the child of footprints scattered across Fiji. I grew up a product of my mother's dreams and aspirations. A manifestation of her hopes as she packed her suitcase and moved from the outer islands to the city, in search for a different life. I was born a first- generation- Fijian- urban- dweller, with no lived experiences of a village life. As a child, I believed that there was one single story about the Fijian identity, and it was a story- I didn't measure up to. In my single story of the Fijian identity, A Fijian would be able to stand on both feet in their father's village, and claim that land as their own, a Fijian would know the ins and outs of farming and fishing, and a Fijian could easily hold a conversation in the iTaukei language.  I didn't grow up with my Dad, fish and taro were what my Mum picked up in Navua on our way home to Pacific Harbor and, while I can understand Fijian perfectly, what the words sound like in my head and what actually rolls off my tongue - are very different. For a long time, I persistently subscribed to this single story about the Fijian identity. The single story that seemed to reject my authentic truths. As a child I remember feeling alone. I was born into a situation that enabled my contemporary disposition on life and this sense of self-didn't fit into the dominant narrative I learned about the Fijian identity.  In many ways, that single story about the Fijian identity, anchored me down. However, I have come to learn that we are more than a single story, and if anything, it's the anti narrative that has taught me that my identity isn’t shaped by the things I lack, but rather the things we share. Our links to the land and to the ocean and how that defines us, our faith in stories passed down through generations and how it informs us, and our respect for family and community and how that shapes us. What truly defines who are, are the powerful values at the core of each of us. It's our multiple truths and shared stories, that truly shapes our identity. Accepting that, is a gift I think we owe to ourselves. Because when we stand boldly in all of who we are, and when we are grounded in the conviction of our entire selves, we are liberated and have the honor of paying that forward. Who we are, are the multiple truths of our stories, and it's important that we acknowledge that a single story is an incomplete narrative, and an incomplete narrative isn’t our entire truth. Accepting that, has really shaped and informed the work that I do. I work with 350.org- a growing global movement of changemakers that exist to address the many challenges with climate change. In the Pacific, I serve the Pacific Climate Warriors. A group of inspiring young climate activists spread across 15 Pacific Island Nations, who bring about deep transformational justice, through storytelling and faith and cultural organizing, in grassroots communities.We exist to build a climate movement in the Pacific, for the Pacific, and with the Pacific. At the foundation of who we are, is the commitment to elevate stories of people at the forefront of injustices brought about by climate change. Serving the Pacific with the Climate Warriors has given my story, a very empowering sense of validation. My story with climate change began with my grandfather, Byron Fisher. Long ago, when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, my grandfather took me out fishing. I remember we were standing out by the ocean on some rocks, and my Pa had a spear in his hand and a smile in his eyes, waiting for dinner to swim by. To pass the time, Pa would tell me stories about his old people, that day, he told me that we come from a family of boat builders and fishermen, and the ocean would always be kind to us. This was my Pa’s truth- his story and his story put food on the table for my mother and her siblings. I especially remember this story for two reasons. One, was because it helped me appreciate his truth- I saw a side of my Pa I had never seen before, and two, it showed me the power of storytelling. You see the stories we tell each other about ourselves, have power, and it's important that we get these stories right.  Two years ago I got to visit the low-lying atoll island of Tuvalu. My friend, Logo Monise is from there. The highest point on her island home is no higher than five meters. For Logo and her family, sea level rise is problematic. Saltwater intrusion means her fresh water supply is affected, flooded pig- pens mean her food security is threatened, and the rising sea means graveyards are now underwater. In February 2015, king tides hit Kiribati, another low-lying atoll Island. Vasiti Tebamaare was at the Betio Maternity Hospital when it hit. She said that the king tides were so huge that the 2-meter high sea wall erected to protect the hospital, simply didn't stand a chance. The entire hospital was destroyed. Mothers and their newborns were caught in this utter chaos confused, cold and afraid.  Later that year, I was in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.  Everyone that I spoke to about changes they have experienced with the climate told me the same thing. Living in Pohnpei nowadays is like living in a volcano. The heat is unbearable, and on top of that, they don’t understand why the traditional winds that signal seasonal changes, don’t blow when they should anymore.  Their breadfruit trees don’t fruit, their catch from fishing is growing smaller and smaller, and most of their vegetables wither and die out. These are the stories of climate change that  I'm sure you've heard before. And if you look at the existing narrative of our people in the face of climate change, without pessimism, you fail to understand our realities. Our realities as Pacific Islanders is that we are dealing with a crisis that we barely contribute to. The developed world has gambled with the climate and lost. Our land is the jackpot and the ocean is collecting her wins. However, as authentic as these stories about climate change in the Pacific are, they are not the entire story. This is only a half-truth, and when half-truths are told, the pursuit for justice is misguided. And that is why we do the work that we do. We work in the Pacific to tell you stories about our truths as Pacific Islanders not just living but thriving, on the front lines of climate change. We work to give our stories justice. While it's important to talk about Logo and sea level rise, let's also talk about how over the last 3 years, a network of young Pacific Islanders working on climate justice through faith and community based organising, have stepped unapologetically into their power calling on regional leaders, world leaders and the fossil fuel industry to commit to moving away from fossil fuels and to finance a just transition towards renewable energy. While we talk about Vasiti and King tides, let's also talk about how 30 Pacific Climate Warriors used traditionally built hand made canoes to blockade the largest coal ship in the world in 2014. Let’s talk about how this modern day David vs Goliath battle was a moment where young Pacific Islanders showed the world that when a small group of like minded people come together, anything is possible. Let’s talk about how this action, the very first one for the Pacific Climate Warriors, continue to inspire groups of people world over and encourage them to always speak truth to power. While we talk about how the climate is changing and making traditional knowledge more and more irrelevant, let's also talk about how the same network of young people joined the People’s Pilgrimage in Italy before heading to a three day fast and prayer vigil in the Vatican, praying for their Island leaders heading into international climate negotiations, and praying for their island homes. Let’s talk about how even though the climate is changing, their faith and belief in their convictions remain unwavering. Let's address the inequality in the existing narrative by shifting it to one that speaks of our shared strength as Pacific Islanders, our resilience as a people, and our Warrior spirits. When you look at the spirit of our people in the face of climate change, and you're not filled with optimism- you fail to understand our courage.  Our courage as a people is the type of courage that thrives whilst existing in a perpetual state of rehabilitation. Our courage as a people is the type of courage that will build a movement of Pacific Islanders demanding climate justice. Our courage as a people is the type of courage that will stop giant coal ships with handmade canoes. This is our courage and our courage is our story, and I urge you to connect to the truths behind our story. We are more than just broken down seawalls, dead breadfruit trees, and fewer fish, we are the story of our courage in the face of climate change, and it's that story that must inform the work that we do when thinking about justice for the Pacific. This world cannot continuously wreck this planet for profit, and paint Pacific Islanders as nothing more but mere victims in this climate crisis. This world must keep fossil fuels in the ground and commit to a just transition towards renewable energy. Collectively, we need to consciously shift the narrative of Pacific Islanders to what is really is! We are the king tide and we are the new wave. We are the sinking island, and we are the rising islands. We are tough skin, chocolate eyes, and deep curls. We are both land and ocean, and we are each other. We are my story, we are your story, and we are our story.   By Arieta Rika - founder of Talanoa, a storytelling venture which captures the tales and yarns of young people in the Pacific as a way of educating, empowering and inspiring through examples of lived experience.