Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - PAULA CHAN

PAULA CHAN 

FASHION DESIGNER 

SAMOAN /CHINESE

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I’m a fashion designer by trade and I more or less, design & sew garments for people, especially wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses. I love designing for different individuals and creating a style, a design, from just by spending a bit of time and talking to the clients about what they want.  I do contemporary and traditional designs, it depends on the fashion show function or event. 

What are some of the most challenging and rewarding moments in your field?

The most challenging is working with girls who want to enter Miss Samoa pageants or you know other competitions because I find a lot of young, Polynesian women brought up here in New Zealand, their concept of culture is totally different to my concept of culture. When designing dresses for pageants, my interpretation of traditional stuff is totally different from their view of traditional.  So I more less look at the culture side of things and design accordingly and add a bit of a western idea to it.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ‘AHOTA’E’ILOA TOETU’U

‘AHOTA’E’ILOA TOETU’U

ARTIST & ART TEACHER 

TONGAN 

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I was born in Tonga, my Mother is from Fasi Moe Afi and my Father is from Falevai and Longolongo. My family moved to NZ when I was 3 years old and grew up in Otara and also spent some time living in Bondi Beach, Australia.

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

I loved imagery from a young age appreciating animation and cartoons and large picture books and comics. This led me to love drawing and naturally developed in high school and excelling in Art. After working in factories and various jobs such as the Bank I realised that I needed to follow something I was really passionate about and it was Art. I attended MSVA in Otara and graduated with Bachelor of Visual Arts and then a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - KEZIA SALANOA

KEZIA SALANOA 

FILM STUDENT 

SAMOAN / SWISS / ITALIAN 

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Talofa, Bonjour! My name is Kezia Salanoa, I’m 22 years old and I come from Samoa. I was born in Switzerland. My dad is full Samoan from Falefa and my mum is afatasi Swiss and Italian. I am the second of three girls and I am currently living in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Most FAQ is do you wish you grew up in Europe? And honestly, no. Im so thankful to have been raised in the Samoan culture and environment, not neglecting my palagi side (which I love just as much), I just love that I have the fa’a Samoa with me anywhere I go. I guess I can say I have the best of both worlds.

My parents met in Honolulu, Hawaii through YWAM (Youth With a Mission) they were both in missions ministries helping with the Hawaiian community, the homeless and users. After a few months and mango picking, they fell in love.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - AVI'I FA'ALUPEGA MAGELE

AVI'I FA'ALUPEGA MAGELE

RUGBY REFEREE 

SAMOAN 

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What made you want to be a referee?

First of all cause I love rugby. It’s like a family culture. Ever since when I was young … it’s very funny cause my Dad use to play rugby and I had two older brothers. So when I was in primary school and my two older brothers were in colleges, so that was like Super Rugby before I mean Super 12, before Super Rugby as we call it right now. So back in days, when not every family in the villages had tv. So our family got one, got lucky enough to get one. So we had that culture where we compete, like me and my mother and my other brothers we compete, we watch the games and we had that culture watching Super 12 rugby and compare who’s gonna win.

So that’s where actually where it built up my passion in rugby, I didn’t see that much about women’s rugby during that time.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - TOVIA VA'AELUA

TOVIA VA'AELUA 

COUNTRY MANAGER, RHIPE NZ (THE CLOUD CHANNEL COMPANY & CHAIRPERSON OF PASIFIKA IN IT

SAMOAN 

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I was born in Sagafili, Samoa and had four siblings but moved with only three of them to NZ because immigration laws back then limited migrant families to no more than four children. We lived in Grey Lynn like most but then moved to Avondale to be closer to dad’s work – hence all the schools we attended were there. My mum is from Falelatai which explains why I have the titles I do and dad came from Lalomalava. Our family has always been in law enforcement and I was preparing to enter but was told by my father and brother that I wasn’t allowed because it would “change” me. And I had already graduated with a Major in Education and realized I wasn’t inspiring enough to be a teacher, so I shifted to technology.

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

This crazy palagi woman (whom I still love dearly to this day – e.g.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - THOR KATOA

THOR LOPINI KATOA 

ENTREPRENEUR & BUSINESS OWNER 

TONGAN 

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My name is Thor Katoa. I was born in Guam, but was raised in St.George, Utah. I come from a large family, with 8 brothers and 1 sister. I am full Tongan and am currently on track to earn my Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Communications from Oregon State University. In addition to being enrolled at OSU, my father and I have started our own business.

Can you tell us about the business you own and why it's unique?  

Yes, my father and I are business owners of a CBD (Cannibidiol) company, Polynesian CBD, which is based in the U.S. (Oregon). Polynesian CBD focuses on Hemp derived products. However, the difference between us and other CBD companies, is that we’ve chosen a more unique path by adding an “island twist” to our product line (Island “smells” & tastes: ex. Coconut, pineapple, mango etc.)

We're also doing some product development with Kava at the moment too.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - JOHANNA SETEFANO

JOHANNA SETEFANO 

HEAD GIRL OF ST CUTHBERTS COLLEGE 

SAMOAN 

Talofa lava! My name is Johanna Iutita Talitha Setefano meaning “Gracious Gift of the Lord” and I am the eldest daughter of Rev. Dr Imoa and Amelia Setefano. I was born right here in Aotearoa New Zealand and spent a large amount of my childhood moving back and forth from Malua Theological College in Samoa. My dad is from the villages of Fasito’o Tai, Vaivase Tai and Palauli and my mum is from the villages of Afega and Vailele in Samoa. I come from a strong Christian family with 3 brothers and 1 sister that are devoted to God and a current member of Papatoetoe Congregational Christian Church of Samoa.

I am currently a Year 13 student and also humbling enough the Head Girl of St Cuthberts College for 2019. It’s such a privilege to be able to attend the top secondary school in NZ all thanks to my parents and my Year 7 teacher, Mr Theunisen (Mr T)  who shared a vision that I attend the best school available.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - FAUMUI PENELOPE GINNEN

FAUMUI PENELOPE GINNEN  

DISTRICT COURT JUDGE 

SAMOAN 

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What does your recent appointment of District Court Judge mean for you?

I am so honoured to have been appointed. I am proud to be following the path that has been trail blazed by inspirational Samoan women like Judge Ida Malosi, the first Samoan woman judge in New Zealand; and Justice Mata Tuatagaloa, the first Samoan woman Judge in Samoa. Both of these women have shown the power of combining a sharp legal mind with a true heart for our people.  Our countries will be well served if I am able to successfully model myself on their example.

What will it mean for pacific communities to have another pacific judge?

I feel affirmed, that the work that has been important to me throughout my career has been recognised as important in this role: the wellbeing of children, social justice, indigenous rights and responsibilities, fighting inequity. I have had the loveliest messages celebrating my appointment. I am struck by how connected Pacific people are.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - SIAKI SI'I

SIAKI FEKITOA NA'A JR aka SIAKI SI'I 

ACTOR/DANCER/MODEL/SINGER & EVENT HOST 

TONGAN 

My name is Siaki Fekitoa Na’a Jr. also known as Siaki Sii. I am third generation to my family name Siaki and I am named after my dad. I was born in the Kingdom Island of Tonga and migrated to Los Angeles, CA at the age of 11 months old.

With my culture it is imperative to name which village my parents are from because that’s how islanders determine your family lineage. My dad is from Pokotala/ Uiha and my mom is from Kolovai/Foui therefore, with Tongan culture we claim the village our father comes from which makes me a proud Pokotala from Ha’apai. Although I am from this amazing island I was given an opportunity of a lifetime to live in the land of the free to work towards an AMERICAN DREAM! My mom is a US citizen by birth and my dad is a Tongan citizen by birth. So I am blessed to be both.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - INDIRA STEWART

INDIRA STEWART 

JOURNALIST / FIRST UP HOST  

TONGAN / FIJIAN 

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I’m Tongan Fijian, born in Tonga and raised in New Zealand. My father’s family is from Tatakamotonga in the village Mu’a. My mother’s fijian side is from Kadavu and the village of Tu’anuku in Vava’u, Tonga. I’m a Journalist working in News and Current Affairs. I spent the last 6 years mainly focusing on news around New Zealand’s Pacific community and the international Pacific region. I feel privileged to have covered the Pacific realm because it’s so rich with stories but there aren’t enough people telling them. The stories I’ve covered have made my work meaningful and have made me a stronger journalist. It’s tough covering Pacific people - many of our people aren’t always open to talking or offending others especially because of the way our communities are built - everyone is connected. But being silent can be dangerous when you’re already among the most vulnerable in western society. We need to be able to speak up to stand against injustice and to hold people accountable when needed.…more