Humans of the Islands

PRIDE - PASIFIKA STORIES - SHANEEL LAL

Shaneel Lal

(They/Them)

Activist/ Student/ Co-Founder of “End Conversion Therapy NZ”

Fiji

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Shaneel Lal is a multifaceted and intersectional activist. They have been vocal and influential in bringing to light various issues around racism, transphobia, indigenous land issues, systemic injustice and much more. Shaneel is a co-founder of the organisation “End Conversion Therapy NZ” and has been an avid voice around the need for a ban on Conversion Therapy. They’re currently a student at The University of Auckland, and on top of all that is actively educating people on social media on how to be more conscious citizens of humanity.

If you could have the world's attention, how would you introduce yourself?

I am many things, but deep down, I am a young person who wants to change the world. I do not wish to be protected. I want to be free. And I want the same for my people. A young person who has seen, felt, and experienced too many things that I shouldn’t have.…more


Humans of the Islands

PRIDE - PASIFIKA STORIES - Teneva Ropati

Teneva Ropati

(She/Her)

Student/Basketball Player

Samoa

Teneva Ropati is a young Samoan woman from the villages of Taufusi and Vaivase. She was born in New Zealand and raised in West Auckland. Teneva is a passionate basketball player and on top of all this is proud to call herself “gay af”.

If you could have the world's full attention, how would you introduce yourself?

My name is Teneva Ropati, I’m 20 years old, Samoan and gay af lol.

Is Pride month something that you personally celebrate?

Absolutely! I  love the feeling I get seeing everyone be 100% themselves and not caring. Especially at Big Gay Out. I always feel so at home being around complete strangers. It’s odd but I understand it. I feel the most proud of our community during Pride month — and I’m pretty damn proud every other time of the year.

What has been your relationship with the phrase "coming out"?  Was “coming out” a process you had to go through with your family?

Bittersweet is probably the best word to describe my experiences.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - SILIKA ISAIA

SILIKA ISAIA 

2018 WINNER OF STAND UP STAND OUT & CURRENTLY STUDYING A BACHELOR OF MUSIC 

SAMOAN 

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Talofa Lava, I am a Pacific woman originating from the island of Samoa whose blood runs deeps within the soils of Fasito’otai, Toamua, Salelesi, Satui Malufilufi, Vaitele and Patamea Savai’i. My name is Silika Isaia and my greatest blessing in life are my Parents, my mother Leasi Levi Isaia and father Timoteo Isaia.

Born in Samoa, raised in Christchurch for the first half of my life, and now residing in Otara, never have I ever doubted my passion for music.

A two year old who landed in the land of milk and honey in 2004, with big brown eyes and curly short hair wearing a matching blue and white set that her nana bought her in Samoa, in awe of what I saw I had no idea that this place would foster my love for singing.

Similar to where all great stories began, my chapter one started in the House of the Lord and the first word of my book was God.…more


Humans of the Islands

PRIDE - PASIFIKA STORIES - Peyton Wolfgramm

In celebration of Auckland Pride Month, we're sharing Pasifika Pride stories.

Peyton Wolfgramm

(She/Her)

Doctoral Candidate/Councilor/Mental Health Advocate

Tonga 

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Peyton is a proud Tongan born in Auckland and was raised (and still resides) in Māngere. She is a daughter of migrants. Her father is from ʻUtungake, Vavaʻu and her mother is from Niutoua, Tongatapu. She is a sister to four brothers and one sister.  She is an aunty to nine nieces and nephews. Currently Peyton is a Doctoral Candidate at The University of Auckland, studying towards being a Doctor of Clinical Psychology. Weaved into this, she is a proud leitī.

As we know, this month is Pride month and we’d love to hear what “Pride” means to you?

Pride is the full acknowledgment of who one is. It includes the authentic expression and embodiment of oneself as an LGBTQIA+/MVPFAFF+ person in their unique context. But it also includes the ʻofa, acceptance and respect of friends, family and allies.

.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - SEFA PALU & JESSICA MATAVAO from The Amazing Race Australia

SEFA PALU & JESSICA MATAVAO 

COMPETITORS IN THE AMAZING RACE AUSTRALIA

TONGAN & SAMOAN 

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SEFA - I'm from Western Sydney, Australia. Born in Auckland, NZ but have lived in Australia since I was 9. My mum and dad are Tongan and come from Tofoa, Ha'apai and Holonga, Tongatapu respectively. I did high school in Sydney, then moved to the US when I was 19 for a mission for my church and then I stuck around for college over there. I have a degree in Public Relations and Philosophy and I am currently working as a Sales Rep in the health sector. So, a bit of mixed bag in regards to life experience. 

JESSICA - I'm of Samoan heritage. My mother is from Falefa which I know more about than my fathers side. I was raised  in Samoa (Leifiifi) until I was 14, I moved to Sydney Australia. I work in Government.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - JOHNSON RAELA

JOHNSON RAELA

JOURNALIST / FREELANCE DIRECTOR / BUSINESS OWNER & ENTREPRENEUR 

COOK ISLANDS 

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Kia Orana, my name is Johnson Raela and I am a proud New Zealand born Cook Islander from the island of Aitutaki and my village is Amuri (Te Upoko Enua). I’m also proud to be from Mangere, South Auckland.  I find it hard to answer the questions ‘what do you do?’ because I do many things.

I’m passionate about telling Pacific stories. So, on one hand i’m a broadcaster. I’m a reporter for Tagata Pasifika and also a freelance TV director. I was also recently a reporter for Sky Sport News. I have a background in mainstream radio (Flava FM announcer) and television presenting (What Now, Operation Hero, Polyfest). 

I am also the owner of 008 Media, which is a creative communications agency specialising media, digital and communications management. I help to advise organisations on various campaigns.  I’m also the co-owner of Aro A’mor, a Pacific inspired luxury watch brand, that will be launched mid February 2021.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - ABBA-ROSE DINAH VAIAOGA-IOASA

ABBA-ROSE DINAH VAIAOGA-IOASA

FILM PRODUCER 

SAMOAN 

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Talofa lava. My name is Abba-Rose Dinah Vaiaoga-Ioasa and I am from the villages of Alafua, Toamua and Puipa’a in Samoa. I was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. I’m originally from Northcote but have lived most of my life in central Auckland. I’m a former Auckland Girls Grammar School student and I am currently in the Screen industry working as a Film Producer. My Production company is called Cadness Street which pays homage to the street I grew up on in Northcote.

What were the pathways that brought you to where you are and what you're doing today?

I originally went to University and completed a Bachelor of Engineering specialising in Chemical and Materials Engineering. After working as a Process Engineer for a few years I was starting to think about my next step in my Engineering career and it just so happened to be around the same time as when my brother (Writer and Director) Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa was thinking about his second feature film Hibiscus and Ruthless (2018).…more


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