Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ASUELU PULA'A

Asuelu Pula'a from a little village in Falealili, Upolu, Samoa went viral around the world after appearing in the US TV show '90 Day Fiance' Season 6 with his fiance Kalani.

We check in with him to find out how he's enjoying his new life in America! 


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - VIRGINIA TO'ALEPAI

VIRGINIA TO'ALEPAI 

President - World Wide Safety Org

Samoan 

I was born and raised in Matautu, but I also had family from Saleimoa.  My Dad came to the States to check out the land of opportunities that we heard so many stories about.  A couple of months later, my Dad came back to Samoa and my siblings and I were sent to America.

Fast forward many years, I worked and networked in the construction industry like never before.  I loved the arena and my ex-husband and I opened our own business.  Unfortunately, our marriage did not last, so I left everything we built together to establish my own empire for my daughters and I.  I left him with $12 to my name & my girls and I had to move back to my parents’ house because I didn’t have the means to make it on our own.  I was determined to make it happen. 

I stepped out in faith and invested in my future by attending meetings, events and other gatherings with leaders in the industry.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - LUALIMA HANSEN

LUALIMA HANSEN 

AUTHOR / PACIFIC WOMENS REFUGE ADVOCATE

SAMOAN 

I was born in Samoa - Faleasiu, where my mother is originally from, with Irish Grandparents. My father is also from Samoa - Taungamanono, his father is Niuean and hails from Lakepa.

We moved to Auckland, New Zealand as children and we were raised in South Auckland. I am now married to Craig Hansen, we have three beautiful children and have spent 5 1/2 years in Jakarta, Indonesia, in a variety of ministry roles through our local church.

I have just recently published my autobiography book - Grace Brought Me Here. As a survivor of domestic violence, I am in New Zealand promoting it and working with the Pacific Islands Women's Refuge on a fundraiser event, where proceeds from my book launch will go towards supporting this great organization.

I also started an online clothesline business catered for plus size men ranging Size L up to sizes 10xl - The 3Bears Online, which has customers worldwide.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - EMILY MULI

EMILY MULI 

SONGWRITER / MUSICIAN, PUBLIC SERVANT & SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE

TONGAN 

Mālō e lelei! I'm a proud ta'ahine of Moana Oceania hailing from the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga. My dad is from the village of Fua'amotu and my mum from the village of Kanokupolu. I was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa, and am a songwriter/musician, public servant and social justice advocate. 


You've been opening for Aaradhna on her NZ tour this year - can you tell us how that came about and how you've found it? 
Connections! One of my closest muso brothers has been Aaradhna's keys player since last year, and he called me in February asking if I was keen to be one of her backing vocalists! I definitely did a double take and asked if he was sure (lol), but it was a huge honour.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - SHAKAIAH PEREZ

SHAKAIAH PEREZ 

MULTI DIMENSIONAL ARTIST

AFRO POLYNESIAN 

My name is Shakaiah Perez and I am a multi disciplinary artist of Afro Polynesian descent originally from Whanganui but raised in West Auckland. My work as an artist includes visual arts such as videography and photography which is layered with movement, performance and poetry. 

On my mother’s side I am Māori, Tahitian and Marquesan and on my father’s side I am Samoan, Tokelauan, Cape Verdean and Afro Portuguese. My heritage has a major influence on my work as an artist with hopes to encourage and inspire other people of colour by sharing our stories and re-writing the narrative that western society has written about us.more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - BEAU TAKAPU

BEAU TAKAPU 

FASHION DESIGNER / PROJECT RUNWAY CONTESTANT 

TONGAN 

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I’m a Tongan who actually grew up in the sparkling city streets of San Francisco. I originally studied there, and then journeyed over to New Zealand to continue my studies and to embrace my design work to a new part of the world.  I am 37 and have a very loving fiance Anton, who I am marrying early next year.  Currently I’m working for the New Zealand fashion brand WORLD and am about to venture into a new and confidential opportunity with them.

You were recently on Project Runway - how was that experience & how was it being a Pacific Islander on the show?
To be quite honest I thought I was going to be the only Pacifica designer on the show, but to my surprise there was a fantastic amount of both Pacifica, and Maori, representation. Being on the show was an amazing opportunity to be chosen out of so many and having a new format of debuting more of my artistry.more

Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - LEKI JACKSON BOURKE

LEKI JACKSON BOURKE 

Playwright, Writer, Actor, Inaugral emerging Pasifka writer in Residence 

Niuean, Samoan, Tongan 

What makes you get out of bed every morning?
Ideas, ideas and more ideas. The creative mind never sleeps - I go to sleep with ideas, I dream of ideas and I wake up full of ideas. My mind is always busy devising ways to create magic through the arts. Living my best life while I can. 

What makes you most Pasifika proud? 
It makes me proud knowing that we descend from greatness and seeing our ancestors thrive and live through us and our cultural heritage art forms. Our ancestors were visionary, forward-thinking and innovative. They left us gifts that outlived them and it's evident today through the Ta'ovalas we tie, the tapa & mats we sit on, the kahoa's we wear around our necks, the kava we drink, the words and songs we sing, the patterns of our tatau we proudly display today.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - LORINA PAPALI'I

LORINA PAPALI'I 

Office Supervisor at Jewellery Co. & Co-Owner Zealous CrossFit 

NRL Player (Womens Warriors)

Samoan / European  

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I was born in Waikato and spent most of my school years in Newcastle, Australia.  I move back to NZ and lived with my Nana in Avondale and various places in Auckland and I now live in Te Atatu.


You recently made history becoming the first Mum & son duo with your son Isaiah representing in the NRL at the same club - can you tell us a bit about that journey?

It was a dream goal.  It was a hard path to get conditioned and league fit.  Life has been challenging, fitting it all in and bringing the energy each day.  That's when I reflect on how grateful I am for the opportunity.  I think of my son and husband and making them proud.  I'm embracing the journey.  Doing whatever it takes to be the best I can and represent well.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - TUI EMMA GILLIES

TUI EMMA GILLIES 

ARTIST 

TONGAN / KIWI 

I am a full time artist who's favourite canvas to paint on is Tongan tapa cloth. I am a mother of three little humans aged 4, 9 and 10, and a mother to my two dogs and six cats. I grew up in the family home in Manurewa, South Auckland with my only brother. We were raised there by my loving tongan mother and complexed but loving palangi father who built the white picket fence and gate. The home still stands and I always call it home. Nine months ago my husband and I bought a beautiful big home in Kawakawa, Northland moving away from Manurewa and I became a Northlander.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - FAAMOANA LEILUA

FAAMOANA LEILUA 

Counties Manukau Steelers' Manager 

Samoan 

My name is Faamoana (Moana) Leilua. My late Father Lealali Taeatu Ieli hailed from the beautiful Fusi Safotulafai/Salelologa and my Mum Siufaga from Falevao/Falefa. My parents met in Avondale in the late 70s and made the move to Hamilton in the early 80s, where my family has laid their roots since. I am one of four (two sisters and one brother so fairly small for a Samoan family), a proud tamaita’i Sāmoa, and I’m currently contracted with the Counties Manukau Rugby Union as the Steelers Manager

You're currently the Team Manager for the Counties Manukau Steelers - can you tell us what this job entails? 

The role primarily deals with most off field matters for the players and the wider Management team.…more