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 

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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 

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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


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - THERESA DEVOE-MOSE

THERESA DEVOE-MOSE 

DIRECTOR OF NESIAN BITES LTD - REGISTERED CATERER & FOOD ARTIST 

SAMOAN 

My name is Theresa Devoe-Mose. I am a registered caterer and food artist based in West Auckland. I grew up in Mount Roskill and made the move out to West Auckland seven years ago. My love for the creating process wasn’t clear until my son was born and until I had to plan my own wedding.  While choosing my menus, colours and centrepieces;  that was when it dawned on me, my calling was doing what I loved and what I loved was this - creating small master pieces through my passion for the creating process to create grazing platters and tables to bless my family and customers. 

I work full time while running the business in the weekends for all weekend events.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - ELYSSIA RA'NEE WILSON-HETI

ELYSSIA RA'NEE WILSON-HETI 

PERFORMANCE ARTIST/PRODUCER/ACTIVIST & DISOBEDIENT DISRUPTOR 

NIUEAN 

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Fakalofa Lahi Atu my name is Elyssia Ra’nee Wilson-Heti.  I am a Mangere based performance artist, producer, activist and disobedient disruptor from the arts collective FafSwag.  I am of mixed Heritage

My mothers side of the family are English and my fathers side of the family are Niuean, we have other blood lines that run through also so we are a pretty mixed family. 

You're directing & acting in a theatre production called 'Reclamation' can you tell us what it's about? 

Reclamation is a collaborative work made up of a cast of four Pacifika and Indigenous wahine, our cast include myself, Maila Baker Urale, Ria Hiroki and Falencie Filipo. Reclamation is the second project that was chosen for Basement theatres 2019 Visions Project and has had support from CNZ.

Reclamation is a interdisciplinary performance work made for stage, exploring female desire, pleasure and body positivity through the use of joy.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - KANOELANI DAVIS

KANOELANI DAVIS 

FOUNDER & CREATOR OF POMAHINA DESIGNS 

NATIVE HAWAIIAN / KANAKA MAOLI 

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Aloha, ‘O Kanoelani Davis ko’u inoa, mai MolokainuiaHina mai au.

Aloha, I’m Kanoelani Davis from the Island of Molokai, great child of Hina. I am a Native Hawaiian, Kanaka Maoli. I was raised by my grandparents here on Molokai. I am a single mother of four beautiful daughters and I am the founder and creative director of PoMahina Designs. 

Also, I am actively dedicated to my community and to protecting our natural resources. I live and breathe traditional practices of hula, martial arts, ceremony, protocol, chanting, lei making, and so much more. 

You're one of a few Pacific designers who have been invited to showcase your designs at the London Pacific Fashion Show. Can you tell us about your designs and where you draw inspiration from? 

First off, I’m humbled and feel so blessed to be a part of London Pacific Fashion Week. 

PoMahina Designs is inspired and driven by the vast history and culture of Native Hawaiians.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - ANA LAVEKAU

ANA LAVEKAU 

CEO/CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LONDON PACIFIC FASHION WEEK  

FIJIAN 

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I was born and raised in Fiji by my Maternal sister grandmothers 'Wati & Makereta' who raised me under their Artistic and Cultural guidance from a pottery village in the Delta of the Central Part of Fiji called Nasilai Village in the Rewa Province.

I come from a long line of Dance Choreographers, Tapa Designers, Pottery Artists, Composers, Cultural Ambassadors and Poets. I am the CEO/Creative Director of London Pacific Fashion Week and I recently re-enlisted as a Reservist with the Royal Air Force as a BAME Brand Ambassador. In my spare time I promote Fijian Dance/Language/Pottery in the community and I am working towards building a Fijian Leafhouse in the UK as a cultural hub of learning for the community.…more


Humans of the Islands

WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - DIAMOND LANGI

DIAMOND LANGI 

MISS UNIVERSE NZ 2019 

TONGAN 

My name is Diamond Langi. I am Tongan, from the villages Vaini, Fasi and Nukunuku. I was born in Auckland, New Zealand raised in America Salt Lake City, Utah. My occupation is a fashion stylist and also doing music, modelling and acting. I graduated with My masters in professional styling and I am currently studying acting. 

What makes a Pacific woman beautiful?

I would definitely say is our culture. We have great respect, love, history, morals and gratitude towards God. That is all combined and reflected in our personalities. 

You recently competed in (and won) Miss Universe NZ - what did you stand for in your pageant platform? 

My advocacy is depression, suicide and climate change. I have always been very passionate about helping those in need that I was inspired to put together a non profit organisation called The Diamond Langi Foundation.more


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