Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - SELA MAKA

SELA TUPOU PATISEPA MAKA 

ENGINEERING STUDENT & 

PRIME MINISTERS PACIFIC YOUTH - INTERNATIONAL SCHOLAR AWARD RECIPIENT 

TONGAN 

.

Sela is 20 years old and was born in Tonga. The first recipient of the King Tupou VI Coronation Scholarship and received recognition from Ministry of Foreign A airs and Trade as one of the top academic achievers in 2018. In her first year at Massey University, Sela was part of a team who won the Creative Solutions Award for the Wine New Zealand industry in her engineering project course. She was also selected as a summer intern in a global engineering consultancy GHD in Palmerston North.

Currently a mentor at Massey University Pasifika Students association, Sela hopes to inspire others and has previously tutored for the Amanaki STEM Academy. She joined Tonga Youth Leaders, a non-profit organisation focused on providing opportunities for the next generation of young leaders.

Sela is working towards becoming an experienced and chartered process engineer.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - QIANE MATATA-SIPU

QIANE MATATA-SIPU 

QIANE MEDIA & PHOTOGRAPHY, ARTIST, SOCIAL ACTIVIST & FOUNDER/CREATOR of NUKU 

COOK ISLANDS / MAORI 

.

I was born and raised in the coolest multi-cultural, village-metropolis of Māngere. My family is from Ihumātao, of Te Waiohua ki Te Ahiwaru and Te Akitai, Waikato-Tainui and Ngā Puhi whakapapa, and from Rarotonga (Arorangi) and Mangaia (Temakatea, Oneroa). For 12 years I have worked across media as a journalist and photographer and, as a communications consultant. For the past 7 years I have run my business, Qiane Media + Photography working across this industry. I’m also an artist, passionate social activist (co-founding the Protect Ihumātao SOUL with 5 of my cousins to protect our whenua from development) and the founder and creator of NUKU.

My life wouldn’t be anything without my amazing family. My husband is a proud Tongan and we have been together 16 years this December.  We are parents to a gorgeous, head-strong almost 2 year old! 

I am staunch South Auckland, it is the place that moulded me into the woman I am today.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - DANIEL LEO

DANIEL LEO 

PLAYER WELFARE MANAGER - PACIFIC RUGBY PLAYERS WELFARE 

SAMOAN 

.

Mum and Dad met in Samoa at a missionary school called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I was born in Palmerston- NZ and throughout my childhood we moved around various Missionary bases  throughout the country. 

Eventually we settled in South Auckland where Mum & Dad trained missionaries of Pacific Island decent & heritage. Because of our culture and temperament, Pacific Islanders are some of the most effective missionaries in the world and it was awesome to grow up in that environment. There were games of touch in the park most evenings. I didn’t know it then but the skills I picked up then would take me a long way. Not just rugby-wise but learning to live in community with people of all backgrounds. 

I went to Auckland Grammar School. Every day I would walk past the honours board with the names of all those famous international rugby players who had studied at AGS. That board allowed you to dream.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - LANU FALETAU

LANU FALETAU 

LAWYER, MODEL & ACTIVIST 

TONGAN 

.

Introducing Lanu Faletau who has just been selected as an Obama Leader for the Asia-Pacific Region with an announcement made today from Malaysia.  

My name is Lanu Faletau and I was born in Tonga and migrated to New Zealand for school when I was about 6 years old, I then moved back to Tonga briefly before permantly moving to New Zealand for boarding school when I was about 12 years old. I am so proud to represent two incredible nations and being able to call both countries ‘home’ is always an honour for me. More specifically, I am actually from a tiny island called Taunga and that’s located in Vava’u (an outer island of Tonga). So, I am a typical island girl! I love the ocean, I love to swim, I love the sun and of course relaxing. 

I come from a family of four, I have two older brothers; Inoke and Solo and one younger sister Sonata.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - MANUHA'APAI VAEATANGITAU

MANUHA'APAI VAEATANGITAU

INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTIST & 

PRIME MINISTERS PACIFIC YOUTH - ARTS & CREATIVITY AWARD RECIPIENT

TONGAN 

.

Manuha’apai is 21 years old and of Tongan descent. A valued member of the Queer Moana Oceanic arts collective ‘FAFSWAG’ since 2016, alongside his peers, Manuha’apai continues to navigate and craft spaces that encourage the safe exploration and dissection of our shared experience.

Under the collective, he has collaborated with many artists throughout the Pacific arts community and have opened discussion - alongside artists Pati Solomona Tyrell and Sione Monu - for the re-instating of queer Pacific identities (fakaleiti, faafafine, akavaine, etc) into their respective social/cultural canons. This has provided opportunities to exhibit and perform both nationally and internationally, most recently in Vevey, Switzerland. Manuha’apai hopes to one day become a lecturer and help other Pacific peoples, specifically those of the Queer Pacific community.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS: DEJEALOUS SILI PALOTA-KOPA

DEJEALOUS SILI PALOTA-KOPA

LAW & PACIFIC STUDIES STUDENT & 

PRIME MINISTERS PACIFIC YOUTH - COMMUNITY STAR AWARD RECIPIENT 

SAMOAN 

.

Dejealous is 23 years old, of Samoan descent and is currently studying Law and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland. She has been an active volunteer, mentor and leader for a wide range of charities and organisations. From being the President of ASTRA Auckland (community service club), coordinator of health packs for Starship, being an ambassador for the Heart foundation, being a Marshall for the annual PRIDE Festiva and being a blood donor to shaking a bucket for the breast cancer foundation, all this was done out of her passion to love and serve others.

She’s always had a particular passion for working with youth with disabilities and for the past 5 years, has worked closely with the special needs community through volunteering for Recreate New Zealand, Star Jam, and the Auckland Down Syndrome Association. In 2016, she received the Sunpix Emerging Leadership Award, and more recently became the first runner up for the Miss Samoa New Zealand pageant.more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS: DEJEALOUS SILI PALOTA-KOPA

DEJEALOUS SILI PALOTA-KOPA

LAW & PACIFIC STUDIES STUDENT & 

PRIME MINISTERS PACIFIC YOUTH - COMMUNITY STAR AWARD RECIPIENT 

SAMOAN 

.

Dejealous is 23 years old, of Samoan descent and is currently studying Law and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland. She has been an active volunteer, mentor and leader for a wide range of charities and organisations. From being the President of ASTRA Auckland (community service club), coordinator of health packs for Starship, being an ambassador for the Heart foundation, being a Marshall for the annual PRIDE Festiva and being a blood donor to shaking a bucket for the breast cancer foundation, all this was done out of her passion to love and serve others.

She’s always had a particular passion for working with youth with disabilities and for the past 5 years, has worked closely with the special needs community through volunteering for Recreate New Zealand, Star Jam, and the Auckland Down Syndrome Association. In 2016, she received the Sunpix Emerging Leadership Award, and more recently became the first runner up for the Miss Samoa New Zealand pageant.more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - SAMSON SETU

SAMSON SETU 

ASPIRING OPERA SINGER/PERFORMER & 

WINNER OF THE 2019 CREATIVE NZ ARTS PASIFIKA, IOSEFA ENARI MEMORIAL AWARD

SAMOAN 

.

I was born and raised in South Auckland, grew up in Manurewa - Rewa Hard - for about 17 years of my life.  My family attended a church in Manurewa and still do.  My grandfather was a pastor for that church for a good 20 years.  I also went to Primary School in Manurewa, played Rugby League for the Manurewa Marlins and I'm really proud to be from Manurewa.  I'm a Samoan, my grandparents come from Samoa, my Mums family come from the villages of Vaimoso and Salelologa, Savai'i and my Dads parents come from Fasito'o uta and Fogapoa, Savai'i.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - VENNA TOHILIMA & AMA HEMANA

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - VENNA TOHILIMA & AMA HEMANA 

OWNERS & MANAGERS of LASHFIX 

NIUEAN/SAMOAN 

.

We are two Samoan/Niuean sisters. Venna (32) & Ama (25), we grew up in Ranui (West Auckland).  Just like most Pacific Island parents, our parents worked in factory jobs most of their life. Some weeks working up to 80 hours a week. Even after all of those hours of working, our parents still dedicated a couple of hours to maintaining our house. They were proud to own their home and made sure the paint wasn’t faded or grass didn’t over grow. They always talked about us inheriting their home when they pass.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ALI COWLEY

ALI COWLEY 

ARTIST 

SAMOAN 

My full name is Ali Ekeroma Cowley and I was born in the Year of the Dog. I am married to Donna Michele Cowley, née Waetford, Ngātiwai. We have four children and live in Manurewa, South Auckland. My parents are from the Island of Upolu in Samoa. My mother Hanamoa Cowley, née Ekeroma, is from Vaimoso and my father, Alofipoi Tupa’i Utupo Henry Cowley, is from Vaigaga. They migrated individually to Aotearoa in the early 60s, met and married in the late 60s and had three kids. They bought their first house in Mangere, South Auckland in 1973.

I admire my parents very much and missed them when they went to work. Mum was a maternity nurse and dad worked in construction, so they were working opposite times of the day. They supported my art when I was little. Dad drew cowboys for me which really sparked my imagination and fascination with creating images on blank paper using only a pen.…more