Eric Soakai is a Samoan Tongan activist, artist and academic based out of South Auckland. In his artform Eric explores indigenous storytelling through his lense as a Polynesian man.
The young and talented creative was featured in The Panthers Documentary where he shared a powerful spoken word piece.
We got to catch up with Eric and chat about his art, purpose and passion for telling indigenous stories through poetry.
You did a powerful spoken word piece as part of the Panthers Rapp doco series - what was the essence of this piece and what drove you to write it?
For me the essence of the piece is ‘ka mua, ka muri’. It is an expression of walking backwards into the future, of recognising we bring all that was of our gafa/whakapapa into a space of potentiality/ what will be. The way I was able to understand better the weight of what this carried was to learn the history behind the different names I carry.…more
STUDENT - DOCTORATE IN MANAGEMENT STUDIES
My name is Patricia Loga and I am from the village of Tubou in Lakeba, Lau with maternal links to Yaroi in Matuku, Lau. I am a proud 'mum' to my 9 year old daughter Noelani and am currently in New Zealand to pursue a Doctorate in Management studies at Massey University. I was born and raised in Suva and come from a loving Fijian family and I am what they call in Fijian the 'buina' - I am the youngest of my siblings.
You're currently studying towards a PhD in Management history and public history, why is this particular topic important to you and something you wanted to pursue/research?
My PhD research is in the area of management history and public policy. It is titled: "Public Service Motivation in a Post-Conflict State: the case of FIji."
To be honest, I am a complete nerd at heart. I enjoy research and picked up the interest whilst completing my post-graduate studies at the University of the South Pacific.…more
WOMENS RIGHTS ACTIVIST & FILM MAKER
Women’s rights activist, community organiser and filmmaker ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki is a courageous Tongan woman who has dedicated her life to telling stories that most people sweep under the fala. She dares to tell harrowing truths of the real life struggles of women in Tonga - survivors who she crosses paths with through her grassroots work to end violence against women and girls.
'Ofa is the Director of the Women & Children Crisis Center (WCCC) in Tonga. A space where women can turn to in a time of need. 'Ofa and her team of 25 don’t just wait for survivors to show up to doors, they work tirelessly on outreach and prevention.
The WCCC team carry out their prevention work through their concept of FOFOLA E FALA KAE FAI HA TALANGA. This means rolling out the mat and holding conversation with communities so that they can carefully unpack lives realities female survivors of violence in Tonga. Ofa and her team also use what they call a ULOA approach.…more
SIONE MOLI aka NONEH.
HIP HOP ARTIST
First off, my real name is Sione Kesome Isileli Moli. I was born on March 29th, 1999 at Stanford Hospital. My parents are Amato and Ala Moli, I have a younger brother named Jeremiah and an older sister named Loisi. My father is from Nuku Nuku, Tongatapu and my mother is from Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu. In terms of my heritage, I’m full Tongan with a bit of Samoan from my great great Grandmother, and I come from a line of hard working individuals who bred greatness.
Growing up, I pretty much lived everywhere, but my life began in East Palo Alto, California. When I was born, my family stayed in a run down apartment complex on a street called Scofield Ave, where there were no playgrounds and sidewalks. That was what East Palo Alto looked like at the time. With roaches on the floor, crime roaming the streets, and my brother on the way, my parents chose to move us out the hood.…more
Colleen Furgeson is a two time Olympian that competed in the women's 50 metre freestyle event at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and is now competing once again at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women's 100 metre freestyle. Colleen was also the flag bearer for the Marshall Islands in Tokyo last week.
Furgeson trained at Lincoln College under Coach Johnathan Jordan together with fellow Marshallese olympian Phillip Kinono. Together the pair make up the only two Olympians representing Marshall Islands this year at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
We spoke with Colleen in Tokyo about her pride for Marshall Islands, the atmosphere at the games and more. Heres what she had to say:
How does it feel to be representing Marshall Islands at the Olympics?
Representing the Marshall Islands is an amazing feeling and an extreme honor.…more
HOST OF FLOW'N WITH FINA & INSIDE THE GRIND
SAMOAN / FILIPINO
My name is Serafina Maulupe – I was born in a small town in the Midwest called Wayne, Nebraska. I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. I am a midwestern girl at heart. I currently reside in Murrieta, California. I am half Samoan & Filipino. My dad is Samoan, my family comes from the village of Aua and Fagaalu. My mom is Filipino, and my family comes from Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan. I am currently looking to get back into the basketball scene. I’d love to work for a team at the college level – either coaching or the operations side. While looking for my next opportunity – I created a platform called, “Inside the Grind” and my show highlights our Pasifika athletes.…more
Community Organiser / Founder of Tonga Youth Leaders / Pacific Youth Representative to the Commonwealth
Elizabeth V Kite is the Founding CEO of Take The Lead (TTL), formerly known as Tonga Youth Leaders, a Non-Government Organization that focuses on empowering underrepresented groups in Tonga to lead in places of national decision making. TTL run’s various leadership programmes including the only annual mock parliament for young women and girls, She Leads Fale Alea ‘O Tonga. All TTL’s programmes are focused on harnessing the skills and talents of individuals that are often left unheard, so that they can lead in confidence, and have their voices recognised and heard. Elizabeth also is the Pacific Regional Representative for the Commonwealth Youth Council, the world’s largest and most diverse youth group, with the council representing the 1.2 billion young people of the Commonwealth.
The coco team got to chat with Elizabeth about the inspiring work that she does:
LUCY MATA'UTIA JARRARD
Samoan / French
My name is Lucy Mata’utia Jarrard. I’m a 19 year old competitive surfer from Carlsbad, California, but currently live in Oahu, Hawaii. In addition to my passion for surfing, I also enjoy activities such as hiking, skating, and sewing. My pacific heritage is Samoan and French. My mother is Samoan while my father is French.
You're the first Samoan female surfer to represent American Samoa Surfing Association - tell us how you got into surfing and how long you've been competing for.
I originally come from a water family, so all of our weekends and days off were spent together at the beach surfing and hanging out. It’s funny though because I actually didn’t even really like the beach. I think I was about three when I first started surfing, but I didn’t start enjoying it until I was about eight. My first contest was a Volcom series at about nine.…more
Teacher / Maori Student Learning Advisor / Singer
Samoan / Maori
I’m Jordyn, my Dad is from Whāingaroa (Raglan) and my Mum is from Mulifanua Lalovi (Samoa). I’m married to Thomas Rapana who is from Ngā Puhi and we have a beautiful 4 year old, Toa-Awanuiārangi, who is the absolute best of both of us.
My family homestead is in Otara, South Auckland, where my Mum and her siblings spent a lot of their childhood after moving from Samoa and my Nana still lives there today. I mostly grew up in South Auckland suburbs, spent a few years of my childhood in Wellington, but Otara will always be home.
At the moment I teach Te Reo Māori night classes and I am a Māori Student Learning Advisor at a theological tertiary institution. I’m passionate about identity, language reclamation and our people thriving in Aotearoa.
What were the pathways that led you to doing music/singing?
My Dad is a Pastor and we grew up singing in Church, in Worship teams and just with the family.…more
Faiesea Ah Chee is a 18-year-old Savaii girl at heart now living in the heart of Auckland city. She is a long way from her island home, so how has her journey led her here?
In 2003 Faiesea was born in Tuasivi and grew up all her life in the village of Fa’a’ala Palauli, Savaii. She was raised by a family of fishermen. Her grandfather and uncles would go out into the Moana every day. While she and her grandma would sit by their village selling the fish they had caught. There were six in her family and they would all rely on the ocean as a way of life. Faiesea went to school at Vaiola College to which she describes as “the best school”. She lived the picturesque island life; took from the ocean, gave back to the land, served her family, went to school in a neighboring village and her best friend was a turtle.
In 2016 Faiesea’s world changed. Her family sadly lost her grandma.…more