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


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - VINCE HARDER

VINCE HARDER 

SINGER / SONG WRITER / MUSICIAN / ARTIST 

SAMOAN 

I was born and raised in West Auckland and lived there for the first half of my school life.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - LUKE AIONO

LUKE AIONO 

GUITARIST 

SAMOAN 

I grew up in Long Beach, California.  My parents were musicians so music has always been a big part of my life.  They're both Samoan, born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand but they migrated to California in the 80s.  I started taking classical piano lessons at 6 until I switched to guitar in high school and taught myself from then on out. I played a lot in LA clubs/jam sessions during and after high school and shortly thereafter got asked to play for Kenny Lattimore + Chante Moore as well as the hip hop artist Nas.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ASHLEE FIDOW

ASHLEE FIDOW

STUNTWOMAN

SAMOAN / CHINESE / EUROPEAN 

I was born and raised in Auckland and grew up in Avondale. I’m Samoan, Chinese, English and German. My mum raised me on her own, it was a struggle from time to time as shes had rheumatoid arthritis for 30 yrs which is a joint disease that makes the easiest tasks very painful to do. Shes always had a never give up attitude and was determined to deal with the pain and work full time to look after me the best she could. Lucky we had a big extended family, I was always around my cousins who were like my siblings and my fondest memories were being brought up with them and my Nana. My nana was very traditional, she brought the discipline, made sure we kept our culture, made us sing in Samoan, yell at us in Samoan and say prayers before school etc but she passed when I was 11 and things haven’t been the same since, something I miss a lot in my life.more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ALI FOA'I

ALI FOA'I 

ACTOR/WRITER 

NIUEAN / TUVALUAN / TOKELAUAN & AMERICAN SAMOA

Fakaalofa lahi atu, Taloha ni, Talofa, Kia ora, Asalaam alykum!

I am Ali Foa’i and I am an actor slash writer born and raised in West Auckland, currently residing in Te Aro, Wellington. I am Niuean, Tuvaluan, Tokelauan and American Samoan, a proud child of the Pacific.

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You're currently in rehearsals for the show 'MoodPorn' can you tell us a bit about it and why you were attracted to the role?

MoodPorn (showing at Bats Theatre, Wellington April 23-May 4) is a brand new play by Wellington based Filipino writer Matthew Loveranes about two old uni friends catching up one night and spilling secrets and drama! It’s very melodramatic but anchored in a hypnotically poetic and modern script. My character Atlas is a migrant to New Zealand, his family moving for a better life which as a PI I could relate to.…more


Humans of the Islands

HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - FA'AFETAI 'TAI' FA'ALEAVA

Fa'afetai "Tai" Fa'aleava 

Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate

Samoan 

My name is Tai Faaleava, I was born in Moto’otua in Samoa; lived there for 6 years. Then moved to Jamaica for 5 years; New Zealand for 8 years; and currently reside in America since the year 2006. My villages in Samoa are Lano, Vaiusu, Malie, Samata, and Fagaloa. I am currently pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology and anticipate graduating in 2020.

You are currently heading towards a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology - can you tell us what that is, what made you interested in that field and what you love about it?

Yes, I am currently pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Francisco, California.  I intend to become a licensed clinical psychologist to provide mental health services to people of color and other vulnerable populations.  My parents have worked in the ministry my entire life.  Seeing them constantly helping people in various ways instilled in me the desire to help others as well.…more