Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - DAHLIA MALAEULU

Dahlia Malaeulu  

Author and Educator 

Samoan  

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I am Samoan, born in Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand. I have connections to the villages of Sinamoga and Vaivase tai in Samoa through my parents Malo and Lagi Gray. I was raised and currently live in Wainuiomata, the biggest suburb in the Hutt Valley with a heart to match. Happily married to Mani Malaeulu, my favourite job in the world is being the proud mother of our two young boys, Mason and Isaia. I am a passionate educator at heart, which is at the centre of everything I do. I currently teach part-time, facilitate professional development workshops for schools and early childhood centres as well as author online articles and Pasifika children’s books.

What were the pathways that led you to what you are doing now? 

I had great teachers growing up and always wanted to teach. A classroom and senior teacher at Wainuiomata Intermediate School for 12 years, I loved enabling tamaiti to confidently and proudly succeed as Pasifika.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - HAANZ FA'AVAE-JACKSON

HAANZ FA'AVAE-JACKSON 

ACTOR 

NIUEAN / TONGAN / SAMOAN 

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My name is Haanz Fa’avae Jackson. Born in South Auckland, where I still reside with my big Otahuhu family. My bloodline runs through Niue, Tonga & Samoa. When I'm not working on my career or spending time with family, I help manage "Konfident Clothing", a clothing brand me and my brother launched mid lock down. When there's no work, make work. 

How long have you been in the entertainment industry and do you have a highlight or favourite experience in your career so far?

I graduated from PIPA in 2014, and I haven't stopped performing since.  Started strong on the theatre stage, where I really got to sharpen my craft and find my feet as a professional performer & actor, which then later on lead to the huge world of screen.

Highlights for me would have to be the travelling. I never really got to travel much as a kid, but I had always wanted to.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - RAYMOND SAGAPOLUTELE

RAYMOND SAGAPOLUTELE 

Photographer/ Visual Artist

Samoan 

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Tell us a bit about yourself - where were you born and raised? 

Talofa lava and thanks for the opportunity to share. I was born at Middlemore Hospital in Otahuhu and I spent my early years in Invercargill and the Waikato and our family came back to South Auckland in 1980 and I’ve been a proud son of Manurewa ever since.

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How did you first get into photography? Where did you make your start? 

Mum and dad always had a camera in the house, they weren’t anything fancy and it was either a polaroid or those weird think Kodak cameras that used 110 film – they looked like those skinny little cameras you’d seen in spy films. I used to play around with them and some of my early photos are both awesome and hilarious. I didn’t take it seriously as part of my practice as an artist until around 2003 when, at my wife's insistence I took a couple of night classes to learn how to shoot, develop film and print.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS: Queer Coco a.k.a Saipele Vaimoso

SAIPELE VAIMOSO

Podcast/ Radio Show Host & Personality

Samoan

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Tell us a little bit about yourself: where were you born and raised and what ethnicity are you? 

I am Saipele Vaimoso (29) and I’m Samoan. My mum comes from the villages of Vaisala, Sasatele and Falealili; my dad is from Vaimoso, Faleapuna and Falefa. I was born in Otahuhu, South Auckland and grew up in Otara. Brisbane, Australia is where I’ve resided since I was 15 years old.

For those who don't know about Queer Coco podcast, what is it and why did you start it? 

I started the Queer Coco Podcast to tell my own story as a Gay Samoan man and it has now evolved into platform for other Queer Pasifika & Maori people to tell theirs. I would like the Podcast to be a resource for not only our QPM Youth and our allies but also for parents.

You have particularly spoken about your experience growing up as a Queer Person in the Pacific Community.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - Blackbutterfly Group

JANICE ELIA, TAPU & JOE FUIAVA

Mental Health Initiative; Blackbutterfly Group 

Samoan

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We are a group of Pasifika people from a Samoan and Tongan heritage. We were born and raised in New Zealand and migrated to Brisbane Australia. Tapu and Janice are sisters and both work in specialised community mental health services. Joe and Tapu are married, and Joe has been working with children in crisis for many years. We’re a close-knit family that enjoys working together towards a common goal. 

Where did the idea for the Blackbutterfly initiative come from?

The idea of Blackbutterfly was born out of need. Amongst ourselves, we would often have deep discussions about the challenges we were experiencing personally but also what we saw happening to our family and friends. We basically got tired of talking and began asking ourselves what can we do about it? 

Utilising the traditional process of a talanoa, it was obvious to us that this was the most suitable mechanism for our people.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - RUBEN VULAWALU

RUBEN VULAWALU

Communications Assistant/illustrator

Fijian

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My name is Ruben, I was born and raised in Suva and also lived in the West during my high school years in Lautoka.

How did you get into illustration art? Has it always been a passion?

I was brought up my grandparents in the early 1980s, and had just started school in Veiuto Primary School, when my grandfather/namesake who served during the Solomon Islands campaign and was a retired war veteran moved to the chiefly village of Drue in Kadavu to retire (5 hours by boat in the southern part of Viti Levu). 

He used to love reading the Fiji Times - Letters to the editors particularly. Growing up I made it a personal hobby to trace the editorial cartoons from every weekends paper and send it by snail mail to the village.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - ANE TONGA

ANE TONGA 

Artist/ Curator of Pacific Art & Inaugral curator of Pacific Art in Toi o Tamaki, Auckland Art Gallery

Tongan

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My name is Ane Tonga and I am from the villages of Vaini and Kolofo’ou. I was born and raised in Auckland-in Mount Wellington/East Side to be exact.

You and your older sister Nina are both Arts Curators in a major NZ gallery and museum - are you unicorns? How unique and important is this for Moana people? 

 Unicorns are closely related to horses and we’re Tongan so watch out, ha! All joking aside, Nina and I aren’t dissimilar to other Tongan and Pacific people; we are proud of our heritage and demand nothing less than excellence when it comes to the work that we do to serve indigenous and Pacific peoples.

In saying that, curatorial roles in Aotearoa are certainly coveted so that fact that my sister and I hold these positions is rare as much as it is political.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - TALIA'ULI LATUKEFU

TALIA'ULI LATUKEFU 

Actor 

Tongan 

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My name is Talia’uli Latukefu but most people know me as Uli. I’m Tongan, born and raised in Australia and I’m an actor. 

What were the pathways that led you to pursue acting? 

When I was about 21, I met a couple from church who were running a creative arts program for at risk youth in Brisbane, Australia. Id recently moved there from Sydney where I grew up. They were really inspiring. A small group of us devised a musical together with a local playwright. It was called Paradise - The Musical, mostly young Pacific Island cast and original music. It was a lot of fun. A few years later the director emailed me about an audition for a play. I auditioned and got the role, that role lead to another audition and a small tour.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - PRISCILLA TUALA-FATA

PRISCILLA TUALA-FATA 

CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR & BODY BUILDER 

SAMOAN 

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Talofa Lava, my name is Priscilla Tuala-Fata.

I am 42 years old and I am the eldest twin out of my sister and I, and the second oldest in our aiga. I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and lived there until the age of 6, then we moved to a much smaller town called Hastings. I am now living in Flaxmere, Hastings where I spent most of my life as a young child to adolescent and now as an adult. I have four children, the oldest being 19 currently attending Victoria University of Wellington and the youngest being only 6 years old. I attended Flaxmere Primary School, Flaxmere Intermediate and Hastings Girls’ High School. My experience at Hastings Girls High School was a great one. I participated in volleyball, basketball and the pasifika group which helped me to make lasting friendships and also helped me to build a stronger connection with my Samoan culture. I work at Choices Kahungunu Health Services as a Claims Administrator for the Midwives.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - TEUILA BENIONI and TERESA ATUA FAU

TEUILA BENIONI and TERESA ATUA FAU 

Co-Founders of Weddings She Wrote Ltd 

Samoan & Cook Islands (Teuila)  Samoan (Teresa) 

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Teuila:  My name is Teuila Benioni, I am the Founder & Creative Director for Wedding She Wrote Limited. I consider myself the "architect" of the business. I design, plan and deliver all of our unique, once-in-a-lifetime events across Aotearoa & the Pacific Islands; together with our lovely clients and my dedicated team. I am of Samoan (Satapuala, A'ana and Matatufu, Lotofaga) and Cook Islands (Reureu, Aitutaki) descent.

I grew up in Otara, South Auckland, attended Auckland Girls Grammar School, and I am the eldest and only daughter of my parents, with two younger brothers and one handsome son (14 years) who have all attended St. Pauls College, Ponsonby, Auckland. I think getting an education in a high school outside of South Auckland - broadening my horizons, and also growing up in 'the hood' — seeing the struggle, have been fundamental to my entrepreneurial spirit — when the going gets tough, the tough keep going.…more