• GENAH FABIAN - PFL MMA FIGHT vs LAURA SANCHEZ

    GENAH FABIAN - PFL MMA FIGHT vs LAURA SANCHEZ

    Watch Genah Fabian in her PFL MMA 2021 Womens Lightweight fight (06 May) vs Laura Sanchez. Check out behind the scenes on Fight Night of her Pro Boxing debut here and hear from her boxing coaching team.

  • Katelyn Vaha'akolo: the rugby league star with a voice for change

    Katelyn Vaha'akolo: the rugby league star with a voice for change

    via RNZ Pacific's "Champions of the Pacific" Click here to listen to her interview on the Champions of the Pacific podcast. Cover image photo credit :  Photo: Â© Copyright Andrew Cornaga 2020 / www.photosport.nz / Photosport Ltd . A year ago, Katelyn Vaha'akolo had never played rugby league. Now she's a Kiwi Fern international and eyeing a trip to the World Cup in the United Kingdom. The 20-year-old of Māori and Tongan heritage, started playing the sport to spend more time with her friends, but it wasn't long before her short career picked up pace, catching the eye of representative selectors.  The young winger's campaign for the Akarana Falcons in the inaugural NZRL National Women's Premiership, which included a stunning 80-metre solo try against Mid Central, saw her called up to the New Zealand squad. {{23326}} In her first game for the Kiwi Ferns against Fetū Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium in November last year, Vaha'akolo threw the last pass for retiring legend Honey Hireme-Smiler's ninth-minute try and scored a try of her own in the opening minute of the second half.  It's a memory she still can't quite comprehend.   "I've always loved sport, it's always been an outlet for me, but I didn't really think that I was capable of getting to that level until I was offered the opportunity," she said.  "I just feel so privileged. I'm around so many women with so much knowledge and so much experience and I got to play next to Honey... it's not everyday you get to do that."  And if you thought the name Vaha'akolo sounded familiar, it might be because her older brother Freedom is also making a name for himself, signing with the Highlanders on a short term contract. "I'm so proud of him, he's so deserving. He's always encouraged me and challenged me to go hard for my goals and he's definitely someone I look up to when it comes to my sport. "I just love [that] not only do I get to succeed in this, but so do my family...I didn't really talk about [playing] until it came about but I know they're proud of me. They've encouraged me and supported me through every single phase of my life and my sport so I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them." {{23328}} Vaha'akolo's had a taste of international rugby league and now also played against the world's best women's rugby union players, flying the Tongan flag for Moana Pasifika in their debut appearance at the Takiwhitu Tūturu rugby sevens in Wellington on the weekend.  Now she's aiming to compete in the Women's Rugby League World Cup in November this year.  "It's been challenging because it's really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wasn't used to playing rugby league or contact sport but I've enjoyed being able to be in a space where I can improve and I can go to a higher level than I thought I was capable of." "[The RLWC] that's my goal, but no matter the result I've taken away so much already. I just want to keep growing and I just want to keep achieving whatever I can to get there." While Vaha'akolo is achieving dreams on the field she's also kicking goals off it, advocating for mental health and the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori. {{23330}} Having struggled with mental health throughout her high school years, she's using her social media platforms, known for her health and lifestyle videos, to encourage youth to believe in themselves. "I'm not a counsellor, I'm not qualified in anything when it comes to mental health and that, but I just like to be an ear. I want to talk about things that young people feel they can resonate with so that they don't feel alone." "I guess my main goal is to provide a space, especially for Polynesian youth, where there's no expectations, where they're not going to be judged, and a space where they don't feel like they have to act a certain way in order to be accepted." Vaha'akolo believes there needs to be more services or spaces where young Pasifika women feel safe to talk. "I don't think there's enough spaces that cater to how we've been brought up. I can't speak on behalf of everyone, but I think there needs to be more, I think we need to do better as a community and as people to provide spaces for young woman where they do feel safe and where they do feel like they can talk about anything. " "We're getting there, slowly, but I guess that's definitely something that I want in the future for our young people." Everyday she's reminded of her journey with mental health and how far she's come, inked through the tā moko across her chest; a symbol of healing and growing. {{23332}} "It basically explains my journey with finding myself and learning to be vulnerable, learning to love myself and what that journey looks like. It's a symbolism of healing, growing and of learning to not letting my insecurities define me or define what I'm capable of." Vaha'akolo said learning Te Reo Māori has helped with the healing process while inspiring her to learn more about both her Māori and Tongan culture.  "I wanted to learn Māori because before that I didn't really know anything about my culture and I didn't really understand my whakapapa," she admitted.  "My culture ultimately forms my identity, I take it everywhere with me and it's everything that makes me who I am...I definitely carry more of my Māori side because I'm more knowledgeable of it now, but I definitely want to be fluent in Tongan one day that's definitely one of my goals." After spending a year in the full-immersion course at Te Wananga Takiura, she's now taking up a teaching degree to keep the language alive.  {{23324}} "I just want to help revitalize Te Reo Māori because I think it's really important, especially in Aotearoa, I think it's important for me to know where I come from, because that's who I am and that's a part of what makes me me. "Even with sport when I go out and play, I'm wearing Māori on me, I'm wearing my Tongan culture on me because that's who I am...being able to see things from a completely different perspective has been a real privilege for me and if I could, I would honestly just never speak English again." The proud Māori-Tongan wahine might be new to the sport, but she's motivated and encouraged to see Polynesian women leading the way in contact sports. "I've never been able to express myself in this way like how I can with sport. I can let out all of my feelings whether they're happy, whether they're angry, whether I'm upset, whether I'm in a really good space, this for me is my outlet." "I've seen so many Polynesian woman come through this this level of sport and it's been encouraging to me and it's made me feel a lot more comfortable. It's made me want to encourage other Polynesians to play or to just give something a go in whatever they want to achieve."

  • MELE HUFANGA - Tackling Pasifika health challenges head-on

    MELE HUFANGA - Tackling Pasifika health challenges head-on

    A powerhouse on the field in both rugby and rugby league, Mele Hufanga is aiming to tackle the health challenges of Pasifika head-on. The 26-year-old was running bootcamp-style challenges alongside her brother Patrick Hufanga, founder of Beastmode Fitness.  Over 110 people signed up for the recent six-week challenge, all of them Pacific Islanders.  "It's basically about bettering yourself in life...it's a challenge for people who come from different forms, shapes and sizes, just for us to push them to have a better life, a healthy life," she said. {{23156}} Diabetes struck Pasifika at twice the rate of the general population, with a quarter of Pacific people in New Zealand on track to becoming Type-2 diabetics by 2040.   Just over 63 percent of Pacific adults and around 29 percent of Pacific children in New Zealand were classified obese.  The Tonga women's rugby league international said watching their mother struggle with diabetes had been the inspiration to helping others live a more active and healthier lifestyle. "Being a PI, Pasifika person, it's not fun at all knowing that your own [family] member has diabetes, especially [when] your mum is diagnosed with diabetes type two," she said. "That motivates me and my family to get out there and do something like this. The last thing we want is for other people to go through what we're going through." {{23158}} Her brother Patrick hoped these challenges would create awareness of the epidemic Pasifika were facing while helping prevent obesity and diabetes rates from growing.  "Our Polynesian people are going through obesity, diabetes, you know you walk into any doctors around here in South Auckland, and it's packed full of our people and it's mainly because of that," he said.  "I saw that [struggle] through my mother. She went through diabetes and all that, so it was time for me to start changing people's lives but that's my hope of it and that's the main cause of this training stuff, that's why it's very important for me and Mele to do this." Mele said it was about doing what was right for the next generation.  {{23160}} "Those are the people that we want to help more and push them to not become diabetic and for the next generation as well. Most of these people in this challenge are married, some of them don't have kids, some of them do have kids but at least they know that they don't want their kids or their next generation to go through what they're going through." Participants were expected to attend at least three training sessions per week, with the Hufanga siblings holding sessions six nights a week at Māngere's Centre Park.  Mele said people had joined for different reasons, but there was one success story which kept her going.  "I had this one girl who told me her and her husband were trying to have kids, but she couldn't because she needed to lose weight. She was almost at the line of being diabetic. After 10 weeks, she was told she wasn't on the mark of being diabetic and she fell pregnant as well." {{23166}} "One thing that my mum has taught me in life, the saying in Tongan is: 'ae kataki ke lahi', and that means even though times get hard, times get tough you know just give it your all. These challenges motivate me knowing the fact that I've got nothing in my hands but if I give my all to people, give my time and commitment to them and if I believe in them, anything could happen. "...that's why it's important for me to do this. I'm not a professional. I'm not a personal trainer, I'm not a nutritionist, but I'm helping in a way I know I can." The captain of Auckland's Marist Rugby Club had been involved in a number of campaigns, but she said her time in the Tongan camp highlighted the importance of culture.  She believed the fitness challenges had been a success because they were driven by Pasifika values.  {{23162}} "Usually when I go to camps they talk about culture and values but that doesn't really get me, but when I went into that camp I walked out with something and it got me knowing culture and values is so important. "Faith is important, family is important, love is important and kindness. Kindness is everything because what you say to people, some of the words can be with them forever. One thing I know about us PI people is that we know how to share, we know how to care for each other, we know how to be kind, and I guess if we're all in this together then it is what it is, we're just helping each other out." Patrick said he was overwhelmed with how many people were giving their bootcamps a go.  "To be honest, I had to think about it twice getting her [Mele] to jump on board, but...she's a bit more famous than me out on the sports world out here." "She's a really good speaker, especially a good trainer and she brings the vibe to everybody and she pushes people to the limits. That's the main thing about Mele, she can push you to your limits with no excuses at all." {{23164}} He was also stoked to see the South Auckland community come together to work on their health and fitness as a team.  "Me and Mele didn't expect everyone to come back on the second week, so I guess we're building the culture around not just training but getting people to vibe together. People are coming from Māngere, from Manurewa, all over South Auckland, so everybody's vibing together and just making new friends." In 2015 Mele Hufanga scored a record 16 tries for the Auckland Storm as they went on to win the New Zealand women's provincial rugby title. But the former Black Ferns squad member said there was one record she wanted more than anything.  "I just want to see improvement from everyone. I'm looking forward to proving them wrong because I know a lot of them are doubting themselves, and I want to see them realise they did this, they ran, they did the workouts and they're putting their health first. "I know that we all come from different walks in life, but you know that little help that we have put into this challenge to help others be better, it means a lot to us to witness people that have never trained in their lives, to rock up and try something new, get out of their comfort zone and I think that's that's what motivates us to do what we do."  {{23168}} * Cover photo:  Former Black Fern, Mele Hufanga  Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

  • Samoan Wrestler WWE NXT star Dakota Kai shares her journey to recovery

    Samoan Wrestler WWE NXT star Dakota Kai shares her journey to recovery

    Up and coming Samoan Wrestler Cheree Crowley aka Dakota Kai is signed to WWE and performs on the NXT brand. On Sunday night she competed for the second time in the womens "Royal Rumble" with 30 of WWE's female wrestling stars. Just 2 years ago she tore her ACL at a NXT Live event - here she shares her journey to recovery and making her return almost a year later. {{20760}}

  • PENINA DAVIDSON: CALI LOVE & BASKETBALL

    PENINA DAVIDSON: CALI LOVE & BASKETBALL

    From suburban Lynfield to big time Berkeley, Penina Davidson isn’t your cookie cutter 21 year old Kiwi. Breaking the mould of New Zealand Women’s Basketball, her perseverance to overcome trials of mental illness and societal changes in her new home of California State, is definitely one for the history books. Standing at 6 ft 3, it was inevitable. The Missy Peregrym - ‘Stick it’ look alike, was born to be an athlete.  Like many basketball athletes, Penina grew up with a ball glued to her hand and knew no different. “Mum seems to think I went to a YMCA camp when I was 4 but my first memory was around age 8 - so we’ll stick with that number” {{8254}} Coming through the New Zealand development ranks for basketball was no foreign feat for her. Repping in all the highest teams of every school she attended, Penina took out top-scoring games at regional and national representative levels.  With her Dad as one of the best coaches in Auckland at the time, she was driven to strive for the best she could be in her basketball career. {{8274}} Sport threw a bit of a spanner in the works during her high school years at Rangitoto College, when people began to notice how well she could finesse her body around any sporting arena she was challenged with. Netball slipped in to consideration when she was offered an invitation to trial for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team in 2011. After re-considering which code to persue, Penina was invited to another basketball camp - this time, overseas. {{8257}} “Netball’s really dope and I love New Zealand but it all changed in high school when Mum and Dad sent me to a Stanford camp in Cali with the words “go get seen”. As brief as that was, it was an experience that reminded me that I couldn’t give basketball up”. The camp itself was a hard hitting encounter for her. After missing the memo to take her own blankets, pillows and duvets, she was left shivering in the night with expectations to perform during the day. To add to the hype, she broke out in a rash of hives from being allergic to dogs. "I have a love/hate relationship with the sport, but that experience taught me a lot about how much I'd be willing to sacrifice for it"  After coming back and finishing school in 2012/13, it was time to make the big move. The first offer in, was from Stanford University - an offer she was unable to accept due to the scholarship criteria. Although it was an opportunity not taken, none of it mattered to her knowing that Stanford was one of her first. “It was pretty epic. I never dreamed about opportunities like that when I was back in New Zealand". {{8264}} With offers popping up left, right and centre, Penina was sure about one thing - she was staying in California. “There were two moments in my life where I remember thinking ‘I don’t care if this feels like a job, this is where I’m supposed to be’ - 1. Was when I got to play for the Tall Ferns where my first debut was at home in front of all my friends and family and 2. Was when I came to America and saw for myself that Basketball could actually take me places - I just fell in love with Cali” {{8269}} Penina accepted a 4 year basketball scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. The beginning of a journey that would challenge her in ways she didn't see coming. Having to pick up her work ethic, be away from family situations, adjust to the culture shock of American life and perform physically all at the same time, really began to manifest and take a toll on her body.  It was in her junior year of college that she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  "I had a really bad problem with self harm and I didn't really know what was going on. For practises I’d have to wear long sleeves and one day I turned up with open wounds and my sleeves started to bleed. That’s when a close mate of mine decided that enough was enough and admitted me to hospital.” After being in a psychology ward for 3 days, the doctors assessments confirmed that she was suffering from fluctuating thoughts. “I think I’m just grateful to now know that I’m aware of them. That was a big part of it, not being able to recognise myself with all of the medication I was on. Now I’m able to tell what triggers set me off, what calms me down and what to do. I’m still learning but it’s manageable.” {{8272}} With the pressures of having all aspects of her life take a turn at one time, it was important for her to come to a place where she knew she could sustain a healthier lifestyle for her own well-being. “When everything was turning to custard, I would climb up to my bed on the top bunk, that sat on the 8th floor of an 8 story building with a broken elevator and look out my window. I remember being able to see the whole city with the sun setting over it and thought “it’s going to be ok”. With a fresh perspective on life and a stronger head on her shoulders, the future is only looking brighter for Penina.  Due to the rules and regulations around being able to talk with professional teams about drafting during the season, Penina is focused on her final season with Berkeley, who recently gained their 20th win for the season as well as a solid 5th place for Conference. {{8279}} “A couple of weeks ago we had ‘Senior Night’ which means your last home game …We played Stanford and beat them for the first time on our home turf since 2009. To top it off, they played our anthem in Maori too. It was pretty beautiful. I had both of my parents standing side by side in the stands that I hadn’t seen in a while… my team mates were crying… I was crying - it was the best.” {{8283}} “My culture has taught me how to carry myself in love, to show respect to those around me and with all of that, it’s allowed me to learn how to navigate not only myself, but this big world we live in too.” . To read Penina's Senior Piece on her own personal journey, click here. Otherwise, check out her Cali Video Profile here. By Hanalei Temese

  • ALISSA PILI

    ALISSA PILI

    MaxPreps Sports Female High School Athlete of the Year!  2018-19 – Alissa Pili, Dimond (Anchorage, AK): Volleyball, basketball, Track & Field  Meet the young Samoan / Alaskan native athlete who joins Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin as the only two-time winner of the MaxPreps Female High School Athlete of the Year! She joins an elite group of previous athletes of the year including 5 time Olympic Swimming gold medalist Missy Franklin, All American distance runner Jordan Hasay and current WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis! {{9763}} MaxPrep wrote:    13 Alaska state titles are impressive. Four volleyball titles. Two basketball championships. Four shot put crowns. Two discus medals. One wrestling victory. "Ever since I was little, I wanted to compete," she said. "I hate losing. I'd play against the boys, who were bigger, stronger and faster, and that only pushed me to go harder." A two-time MaxPreps basketball All-American, she also holds the state Class 4A basketball scoring record with 2,614 points. In this year's postseason run, Pili dropped 40 points in the 62-57 title win over Bartlett, while adding 22 and 18 in the 46-36 semifinal win over Soldotna, 33 and 19 in a 66-43 quarterfinal win over Ketchikan. Read the full article here {{9765}} Basketball is where she really excels and she was named by ESPN as one of 6 Basketball prospects who lit up the July recruiting trail in 2016 and then followed up with a full standalone feature on Alissa here ESPN said "If you are looking for a no-nonsense power player who simply gets the job done, may we suggest a trip to Alaska? We hear it's nice this time of year. Pili, a sophomore-to-be at Dimond (Anchorage) who played for Alaska Lady Hoops at the End of the Oregon Trail in early July, is versatile in addition to reliable. The mobile 6-foot power forward can defend numerous positions. On offense, she brings superb footwork to the paint and consistently delivers in traffic." {{9769}} We caught up with Alissa who is of Samoan descent and asked her the essentials. Age:           17 Height:       6ft' Position:   Pretty much all positions (lol) School:     Dimond High, Anchorage    Favourite Subject:  Math Goals:  I want to show everyone what I can do. … I want to make it big to help repay my family, especially my parents, for all their support they've given me over the years Family:  My parents are Billy & Heather Pili, I have 4 brothers - Brandon (who is currently playing defensive tackle at USC), Caden, Braden & Billy - and 2 sisters Kayla & Alyna.  The boys all play Football, Basketball & Wrestling except for Billy he just turned 1 & pretty sure he has no choice but to play the same as the older ones lol.  My sister Kayla is 11 and plays Volleyball & Basketball.  Alyna is 4 but she's not playing anything yet. We don't watch much TV we're too busy with sports and if it ain't my games it's my sibs so we're always on the go lol As far as training goes, I play all different sports like my sibs so I don't really focus on one sport. I have learned from my family to not take anything for granted especially when it comes to all the talent, strength and support I have. I know that no matter what my family will always be there for me and support me in whatever I do. {{9777}}   Favourite Poly Dish:   Samoan Sapasui (Chop Suey) Favourite Poly Artist:  Fiji  Favourite Poly Song:  Sosefina by Fiji   Highlights: Alissa has racked up a few awards along the way  * Pride of Alaska Award  * Alaska Girls Basketball Player of the Year  * MaxPrep All American Basketball Honors  * Alaska State champ in Shot put, Discus & Wrestling * Lady Lynx classic MVP * Cook Inlet Conference MVP  * End of Trail Tournament MVP (tournament in Oregon with 200+ teams attending including Nike sponsored teams) * First team All State  . Her father Billy says of her winning the MaxPrep High School Female Athlete of the Year award "To be honest we didn’t really know there was such an award lol, it hasn’t really sunk in that our daughter is the best female athlete across the whole U.S. - that’s a lot of girls to beat out and definitely well deserved for sure.  Alissa is just an all round very gifted athlete and all the glory is to God.  Her sibs are very proud of what her and her brother are doing and that’s setting the bar pretty high for them. She’s a very great role model also for the younger girls to look up to." {{11487}}   We'll be keeping an eye out on this Inspiring Islanders progress as her star continues to rise!     {{8910}}    Photo Credit:  Fitzgerald Photography, ProspectNation.com & ESPN   Suggested Links:     Half Tongan Jabari Ali Parker selected for Milwaukee Bucks    Samoan NBA Player James Johnson signs with Miami Heat  

  • Bringing the Force to the Field - Fiao'o Faamausili

    Bringing the Force to the Field - Fiao'o Faamausili

    Detective Fiao’o Faamausili has been nominated for the World Rugby Womens player of the year for 2016! One of the Black Ferns’ most experienced and consistent players with 36 caps to her name since her debut against Australia in 2002, Fiao’o Fa’amausili, a dynamic hooker who leads by example and inspires those around her. A physical force in the pack, the 36-year-old is a three-time Women’s Rugby World Cup winner who led New Zealand to a series win over Australia last month, scoring two tries in the opening 67-3 win at Eden Park. Samoan born, Fiao’o was first introduced to rugby in 1998 after playing a one off game during her last year at Aorere College in South Auckland. “Our school never had a rugby team, so I never had the chance to play.”  {{20467}} That one game was all it took to bring out her natural talent. Since then, she hasn’t looked back, with her can-do attitude and punishing training schedule, training six times a week, she achieved her goal of making the Black Ferns in 2002. Since then, she has represented New Zealand at the 2002 World Cup in Barcelona, Spain, the 2006 World Cup in Edmonton, Canada, and the 2010 World Cup in London, England and in 2015 was named as captain of the Black Ferns for the inaugural 2015 Women's Rugby Super Series held in Canada. {{20469}} She has previously played a stint of rugby in Newcastle, England, 2007-2008, which was something she had wanted to do before joining Police Fiao’o graduated from Police College in June 2010 and was posted to her home patch of South Auckland. She isn’t just slaying on the field, since joining the force she has been promoted to detective status with the Counties Manukau Police sector, the side of town where she formerly worked as a postie before joining the police force. “I always wanted to go back there, because I have always wanted to give back to the community I grew up in, and through my job as a police officer I feel I can achieve this.” To add to her achievements, in 2011 Fiao’o Faamausili, became the recipient of the New Zealand Police Association Police Sportsperson of the Year award.  “We have to lead by example and show the young ones that they can achieve their goals if they are prepared to put in the hard work. I think this is the best thing we can do for them.” {{20471}} To reinforce the message, Fiao’o speaks at school ceremonies and sports awards around South Auckland. She went back to Aorere College with fellow hooker All Black Keven Mealamu to present awards to high-achieving students in 2012. “It’s about pushing the young ones through, and being there for them, like other people were there for me when I was coming through,” she says. Fiao’o says her biggest influence on her rugby career was her Dad, he was my No.1 supporter. He passed away in 2001 and that made me push harder to become the rugby player I am today.  The World Rugby Awards awards kick off this Sunday 13 November in London. Fiao’o Faamausili is up against 2 other nominees, Gaelle Mignot from France and Sarah Hunter from England. Sources: World Rugby and NZ Police

  • WOMENS RUGBY LEAGUE: TEUILA FOTU MOALA

    WOMENS RUGBY LEAGUE: TEUILA FOTU MOALA

    Teuila Fotu-Moala of the Kiwi Ferns was announced the best player in the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup, for her standout efforts in each of her games. She beat out fellow Kiwi Ferns team mate Honey Hireme & Jillaroos star Ali Brigginshaw to take the top award. The award was announced at the World Cup Grand Final Lunch and also happened to be the 24 year olds birthday!   She's just recently signed with the Brisbane Broncos womens team in the new NRLW comp and the NZRL have just named her as one of the 20 female marquee players for the new womens comp. Check out some of her big hits here ... {{9225}}

  • FRESH OUT DA BOX - CANDY LEE: WRESTLING

    FRESH OUT DA BOX - CANDY LEE: WRESTLING

    Samoan Pro-wrestler Candy Lee shares her love of wrestling, dealing with discrimination and her goal to become the 1st ever WWE transgender wrestler! Credits:   Director & Editor - Mario Faumui 

  • HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - ASHLEE FIDOW

    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. {{12465}} What were the pathways that led you into doing stunt work? As a child I was drawn to watching action movies with martial arts/fighting in it. I’d go to the video store every weekend and hire out; all the Karate Kid films, Three little Ninjas, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, or anything with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee in it. I found out quite young I was the black sheep of the family and a bit of a tomboy. My family were very sporty and played team sports such as, Touch, Netball, Rugby and Basketball. My Dad went to the Olympics in 1985 for Samoa and competed in hurdles and mum was quite the athlete before she got sick. So I guess I had the athletic gene, I just didn’t know it would lead me into something like this. I joined the local Karate club when I was 8, but the martial art I really fell in love with was Taekwondo. Which is a Korean martial art with predominantly kicking. I competed through out my teenage yrs fighting in national/international competitions and got my black belt when I was 17. From there I naturally gravitated towards combat sports like kickboxing, grappling arts and Filipino martial arts. I also have worked in the fitness industry for 10 yrs as a personal trainer and have a Bachelor of Sports and Recreation. I’ve always been a physical person and couldn’t picture it any other way. In 2009 a friend referred me onto auditions for a TV show where they needed new stunt girls. I got past a few auditions to get my first on set opportunity. And here I am 10 yrs later. {{12448}} Can you tell us about some of your favourite experiences working as a stunt woman as well as any accidents you've suffered? I’ve been lucky to avoid major injuries, each job is different.  I’ve had plenty of bruises and cuts from fight scenes, falls to the ground, wire work, smashing through glass per say. I’m not sure if you can call these favourite experiences but I’ll give you an insight to a few things I’ve done. Hanging off a building 12m high and falling onto cables, having to practice free diving to hold my breath while I get dragged underwater with a full costume of armour on, fighting with swords dressed as a soldier in 2m deep trenches covered in mud at night with a helmet on (I hardly could see anything!) falling or getting thrown off of horses, getting choke slammed with a halter dress on to the ground, getting thrown up in the air and into water by a wire with a bikini on, having to fight in heavy costumes with heavy weapons and uncomfortable wigs on, getting smashed onto and into different surfaces, the list goes on!  Stunt Performers are made up of martial artists, gymnasts, dancers, horse riders, ex army guys and extreme sports athletes. But having a high pain tolerance and handling being uncomfortable is an essential skill to have.  With that being said, stunts is a profession where you take calculated risks. Preserving your body by training properly, recovering adequately and wearing the right protective gear when needed is how you will last. It’s not just about being a daredevil. Its bringing skill sets to the table that will help with the creative side of stunts. Like making up fight choreography, assisting your actor if you are their stunt double by getting them comfortable with their action on screen or working with your stunt team to design action, rehearse it, test it and to make sure its safe to perform on set. The preparation definitely is my favourite thing, making something from scratch and seeing it come to life on screen is rewarding.  It’s not just about doing fancy moves for the camera, its understanding what a character has to embody and how you can physically tell a story by keeping within the parameters of the story line. {{12451}} What have been some of the biggest challenges or lessons you've learned throughout your career? Just like any artist you may not get what you worked hard for and getting used to set backs and rejection can be hard to deal with. It’s teaching yourself how to deal with it to come back stronger and reminding yourself why you are passionate and what keeps the flame burning for you to keep chasing what you want. Telling yourself that you are not the only one who faces these challenges and that it is a universal experience. {{12459}} How has being a Pacific Islander impacted your life and work? It is a unique position to be in and since I’ve been in this profession I haven’t come across another Samoan stunt woman?  Some times people don’t even recognise me as a pacific islander which has made me question my identity of where I belong a lot – the curses of being mixed. I have a diverse look and I usually get asked to double the ethnic actresses if they need a stunt double. I’ve been in the position of not being brown enough or white enough or Asian enough so I’ve had to break through stereo types a lot to prove that you can’t just pigeon hole someone into one thing. You can bring a whole lot more to the table being ethnically ambiguous. Now I see a shift in the industry and there are more Polynesians and ethnic performers getting cast for lead roles which is brilliant to see, and not just in NZ but worldwide. There are also more Polynesian creatives coming to the fore front to write, direct and produce their own films. It is so refreshing to see this uprising - hopefully it’s here to stay! {{12461}} What is the best piece of advice you've been given? Don’t take things too personally. Not everyone is going to like you no matter how hard you work or do your best. It is not a glamorous job and a lot of hard work and sacrifice goes into trying to get the next job or to be considered for an opportunity. Remaining humble in your pursuits with just the right amount of confidence is important no matter what you choose to do. Somewhere along the way the right people will want to give you a chance for who you are and what you represent, you just got to have faith and keep pushing. {{12463}} Who or what has inspired you in your stunt career? My mum Cynthia Rothrock (80s martial artist and action actress) Gina Carano (ex muay thai/MMA fighter turned actress) Michelle Waterson (UFC fighter and Karate black belt) Zoe Bell (NZ stunt woman who is killing it in Hollywood) Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais (if you know, you know.) Did I mention Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee? Haha. And any Mana Wahine who is fearless in her pursuits!  {{12454}} What else do you have coming up & are there any future goals you're looking to smash? There are a few things that are in post production that I can’t say. One of them is a blockbuster with a few martial arts legends that I grew up watching. Was very fortunate to do stunts on that. I'm considering acting a lot more as that's something we do anyway as stunt performers. I've taken an acting role with a lot of action on a local project so that is something in the works at the moment. In the mean time you can check out my work below in the links. IMDB Profile Ashlee's Stunt Highlight reel  {{12445}}

  • Humans of the Islands: Genah Fabian

    Humans of the Islands: Genah Fabian

    GENAH 'FABIOSO' FABIAN  Samoan/German/Maori  Muay Thai, Kickboxer & MMA Fighter  .  I was born and raised in West Auckland as a kid and then we moved into central Auckland when I went to High School.  I went to Auckland Girls Grammar - AGGs (laughs) and when I was 19 I moved to Sydney, Australia and was back and forth to NZ - my family are all still here and are based Central so it's handy.   I'm Samoan, Maori, German - my Mums Samoan/German and my Dads Maori.  My Mums family are from the island of Upolu.  My grandmothers from Lufilufi, Lefaga and Saleimoa and my Dads Tainui which is Waikato. {{21529}} As a Junior I competed in Track & Field since I was 6 until about 19 and did really well as a Junior - competed all around the world and New Zealand, the Junior Olympics and yeah, that was my background and my base growing up.  The reason I stopped track was because I tore my hamstring really, really bad and you know I rehab'd and tried to come back the next season but I think mentally if anything, it threw me off.  Being young at the time I didn't quite know how to deal with it I think, that kind of setback and it was my first real injury so yeah, I stopped after a while. That was a really hard time in my life I remember, because I was like 'What do I do now?'  I've done this my whole life and I've been this high achiever in track and thought I had a future there and then I didn't you know, so I was a bit lost for a few years.   {{21531}} With fighting, I had no aspirations to ever be a fighter, I never even thought about it but it was just on a trip to Thailand I tried Muay Thai for the first time just for fun and fitness.  I immersed myself in it and gradually as time went on I fell in love with it and then started to pursue it as a career.  I thought 'Oh you know, I could be really good at this if I work really hard and keep going'. So I trained Muay Thai for a year straight but quite intensively, like it wasn't here and there - I was training every day again just for fitness and then my trainer at the time asked me on 3 days notice if I wanted to fight.  This was in Thailand so it's full rules - it's elbows, there's no shin guards or headgear or anything like that - so I said "You think I can do it?" and he's like "Yeah, sure why not!" you know the Thais they think everyone can fight (laughs) and I was like "You sure?" and he's like Yeah!  So I was like OK!  and yeah, thats how my first fight went down on 3 days notice! {{21533}} My next fight coming up is K1 (Kickboxing) at Bellator in Budapest, Hungary and then my next 3 fights will be MMA.   MMA is a totally different game in comparison to K1 and Muay Thai - they're totally different.  You've got that different element of takedowns and wrestling and then even the striking approach is different with MMA to a stand up Kickboxer - you've got to look for different things so I can't go in there like a Muay Thai fighter to MMA because that could count against me against someone who had stronger wrestling or wants to take you to the ground.   I used to get very worked up and very nervous which is normal as well, any fighter who says they don't get worked up or nervous is lying I think, cos you do no matter who you are.  I'm learning to channel my emotions and my adrenalin and things like that more and more each fight.   You know what?  This is the first time I've been back home for a fight camp and this is the most relaxed and easy I've felt, I'm usually quite stressed - I put a lot of pressure on myself but you know being around my Mum, my sisters and my family, the CKB crew, Euge and all those guys - they're cool!  I live overseas and I forget how chilled out and genuine and just easy going Kiwis are and I miss it.  It's been amazing so far. {{21535}} I get more hurt in training honestly than I have in my fights, if I'm gna get banged up or cut up bad then I'll deal with that at the time, hopefully not, but no - my fights are so much easier than the gruelling training that I have to go through day in, day out and yeah, I've gotten more injuries outside the fight. Over the years I've learned to be a lot tougher and stronger for sure - in the head more so than physically.  I know I'm tough physically you know, I've broken my collar bone, busted my nose, cut eyes and everything like that and fought & trained in Fight Camp with completely broken bits;  but you know thats part of fighting for everyone.  Mentally though, I've had to develop toughness and resilience.   At the moment I'm training 3 times a day, I'm doing my pad work and technical training, I do a bit of grappling as well afterward - it's just so that even though this particular fight is K1, it's to keep it up because my next fights will be MMA so nothing strenuous.  Then I have my Strength and Conditioning work with Coach Sunz in HPU at Les Mills, then it's back to City Kickboxing at night and we'll do more pad work, a lot more drilling, bag work or fight specific conditioning stuff.  So yeah, training 3 times a day. {{21540}} The hardest part for me is the eating and the nutrition, not because I'm not disciplined but because I didn't have the education on correct nutrition and stuff like that before.  Now I do, I'm getting to know my body inside and out for my job and I have to cut weight a lot for fights and things like that, it's just a part of the sport but yeah, it was tough!  Very tough at first and you know I'm 5'11, I'm a big girl, I carry a lot of muscle as well as mass and water and I'm Samoan (laughs) and so it's definitely something that I need to keep on top of and work hard at with my nutrition. At the moment because I'm in Fight Camp and losing weight for this fight I'm actually following a Ketogenic Diet  which is very high fat, moderate protein and little to no carbs.  It's working well and I'm getting great results from it.  It's been the easiest that I've been able to cut weight on this time round than other times thank God!  I've been through some really tough, tough weight cuts!  With Poly food - on this diet I'd be able to have Raw Fish and thats about it - my favourite is chop suey but yeah, I wouldn't be able to have that, but after the fight I will (laughs). {{21548}} With my fights and stuff I haven't really been able to explore when I go to other countries just because when I'm there I'm always usually cutting weight leading up to a fight, training and then I'll fight and I won't spend much time there after but hopefully in the future I'll be able to chill out after my fights and have some fun but so far I just go to fight and come back.   I have a lot of people I admire for different reasons.  I love Holly Holm, I think she's got a great style, she's strong, she's technical, moves very well and she's a South Paw.  My favourite and my first female fighter that I noticed and was wowed by was Miriam Nakamoto from America, she's a Muay Thai World Champion, very decorated fighter - she was technical but brutal and she can do everthing.  When I first saw her I was like Wow!  She's amazing! For other women getting into the fight game - be relentless, even when you do have family who love and care about you, you'll be on your own and thats OK, you'll be fine, you'll figure it out.  You'll get through it as long as you have that desire & need and want ..... desperation .... like I have (laughs)  But no really, anything you put your mind to - you can do it.  If I can do it, believe me so many people can!  I'm not special, you know?  I'm no different, I had the same upbringing as a lot of Polynesian & Maori girls here in New Zealand.  I didn't come from a rich family ....  I just always had a really relentless work ethic and belief and desire I think and it was that strong I've gotten to this point. {{20447}} Genah Fun Facts:  One of my favourite Michael Jackson songs is Billie Jean and I have an addictive personality so I named 2 of my dogs and my car Billie Jean.  I love a lot of Polynesian and kiwi artists and I listen to them a LOT when I'm overseas because it reminds me of home but yeah, Six60, J-Boog I love, Pieter T, Deach & all of the Smashproof boys there's a lot I'm probably forgetting but I love the kiwi Poly artists.   Genahs Tattoo:  The tattoo that I have on my side is a Protection Tattoo - protection for myself, protection for my family and to support what I wish, what I think and my safety.  It's a traditional Thai Sakyan tattoo.  I got it done a few years ago and it was done the traditional bamboo way and because it was on my ribs it freakin hurt!  I didn't realise (laughs) and it took hours because it's very detailed.  It doesn't look that big but it's because it's done with the bamboo so it's kind of like the Samoan traditional way but it's their form of doing it.   {{20443}} Genahs Aspirations:  I want to be the World Champion!  At the moment Bellator is one of the biggest promotions in the world so it's a huge accomplishment and opportunity to fight in Bellator so currently I want to work towards getting that belt there and stake my claim at Bellator and then see what happens in the future.  At the moment UFC don't have my weight division but they will at some point.  For now Bellator does and it's a major promotion so now I just gotta win my first fight!     Suggested Links:   Carlos Ulberg - Fighting for his Future   Mark Hunt 

  • SIMONE JOHNSON ON FULFILLING HER WWE DREAMS

    SIMONE JOHNSON ON FULFILLING HER WWE DREAMS

    Simone Johnson, daughter of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia, sits down with Cathy Kelley to discuss her love of sports-entertainment and why she’s joining the WWE Performance Center to train to become WWE’s first fourth-generation Superstar. In an interview with WWE Backstage, Charlotte Flair (daughter of WWE legend Rick Flair) gave advice to Simone from her own experience in the clip below   {{16390}}

  • Fresh Out Da Box - Lioness Women's American Football

    Fresh Out Da Box - Lioness Women's American Football

    The ladies from the Metro Lioness Women's Football team show us how it's done!!  Established back in the 80's, the Metro Lioness team is still going strong. Women's Football is a growing sport in New Zealand, check it out! 

  • WOMEN OF THE ISLANDS - LORINA PAPALI'I

    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   . 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. {{11241}} 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. {{11235}} You retired in 2010, was it a hard decision to decide to come back out of retirement and what helped motivate you once you'd made the decision? The seed was planted when I first heard about the NRL for womens.  I had attended a Tangi for my first coach Mr Ngawati.  He was a great coach, hard coach and taught me so much and we had a reunion at the tangi with some of my team mates that I grew up with - friends that are like sisters for life.  I asked Lui (Luisa Avaiki) the NRL Womens Warriors coach if I could be a trainer and she said "put your boots on".  The next day I turned up at Richmond Rovers league for training.  I knew then, it was going to be a hard task. My son Isaiah also made a comment to his girlfriend "my mum's putting her boots on again, you need shoulder pads, mouthguard ". I agreed and said "yes, I still have it all, just need to find gear".  {{11244}} There were many reasons that motivated me - a death makes me want to live, while I'm living to be the best I was created to be, one life, one opportunity, my son and husband, family, represent my age, the past players & present players, pave the way for the future, that people find inspiration in what I'm doing. It all encourages me to keep going!  The Lord has willed it. {{11239}} You've been an international rep in Rugby, Rugby League & Tag - which sport would you say is your first love or fave sport and why? League has always been my first love. The training, team & game. The challenge, contact sport & getting good stats. How did you find your experience with the 1st ever Womens Warriors team? It was an amazing experience.  I really loved it and we were treated so well, they (the NRL) really looked after us - probably the most well looked after in my whole sporting career.  It was a grind tho and we got a taste of what the guys went through before they went fully professional, training as well as holding down jobs.   {{11237}} What are some of the biggest challenges and lessons you've learned as a Pasifika woman playing Rugby & Rugby League As an islander, the food and occasions. For islanders the way we eat and the time away from home and missing the many occasions. The idea of playing a rough sport with bruises and injuries, and still keep going back to play. {{11246}} How has your upbringing & culture shaped you into the woman you are today? I'm physically tough. I have good strength - Taro legs. The much needed hidings growing up prepared me for the game. Proud of my island side. A lot of love. {{11250}} Who or what is your biggest inspiration and why? My son Isaiah Papalii & my husband Jerry Papalii. People inspire me. As long as they are giving their best each day. I enjoy seeing people walk, run, cycle and move. Enjoy watching documentaries, autobiographies of people that have deared to dream and pursue. Creative people also inspire me, people who can sing or dance, people that read, the list goes on... as long as they tap into what they are here to do .... People are interesting. {{11253}}

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

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

    AVI'I FA'ALUPEGA MAGELE RUGBY REFEREE  SAMOAN  . 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. {{13221}} 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. But the passion that I saw from my Dad and my brothers and even the whole family.  Boys really first made to grow in a different career.  So I never thought of being a referee, only thought of becoming a superstar in rugby.  But I never liked women’s rugby back in those days when I was strong, when I was a kid, I wasn’t really strong, it was we never recognize it.  So I remember when I finished school, primary school and I came to Upolu cause actually I’m from Savai’i.  I was looking forward to play rugby but after 4 years of college, I never play rugby cause there was no such thing as rugby for school girls. That was 2006 and 2004. 2005 that was my first day in Uni and then I heard that there was rugby in high school, and I thought maybe might be bad luck for me, maybe there’s something else that heavenly father wanted me to go to.  So I finish high school and then I was a teacher for 5 years.  So I was teaching in one of the colleges, I went back to Savai’i and taught there. {{13224}} My Dad told me one day, you know what I was trying to convince your brother and they never wanna be referee cause my Dad is a referee. So I ask him, so what do you want me to do.  My Dad wanted me to be a referee, I saw you’re a teacher it’s gonna be easy for the kids to listen to you when you referee on the field, so I give it a try.  It’s all for sake of my Dad, he was looking up to me and so I was okay I’ll do it for my Dad, just do it for him. So in 2008 that was my first year of teaching and I was involved with the kids playing and that was the first year also that my Dad wanted me to assist in refereeing in one of the senior A games. I was like no way I can’t do that, I was kind of shy and noo, people are gonna look at me, that’s a girl, that’s a woman, it’s the first time they see someone running around the sideline.  But I think my Dad know best in me, he just put me on and say, you go for it.  So on that very first day and I thought okay I’ll go for it.  Basically it’s all family culture, that passion in me to start something new, something else, even though I never thought of it when I was young, but I grew up with it and our parents know what’s best for us, maybe that’s basically what my Dad wanted me to do. {{13227}} You were recently selected to officiate the main game of the Samoa Invest Lakapi Championship on between Apolima and Savaii. How did that go and what are some of the challenges you've found being a woman officiating mens games? My goal was to stay focused and use the opportunity to be a great leader for both teams. I'm grateful for another milestone to achieve but more importantly is the opportunity to take charge of the mens game at this level for the first time. Of course I expected the negativity al because of being a woman in the middle, but I had faith that I was well prepared. I've being working really hard for this opportunity 4 months prior to the championship. I'm proud of myself and for those who are behind this, my family, friends and other colleagues. I enjoyed the game and I'm looking forward for more opportunities like this in the future, so there is more gametime for me to experience so I can assist the players to play at their best as well. I had a lot of positive feedback afterward and that's bonus. I'm grateful for such a humble experience for me and all credit to our Heavenly Father. {{13230}} A woman taking charge of course is always the issue from other people's perspective., especially in the island. I can only hope for a better change for our young generation to step up and live their dreams. Core values of rugby has taught me a lot not only as a referee but in my life as well. (Discipline, Respect, Integrity, Passion, Solidarity). It teaches me how to respect and take ownership of my actions and how I admit to my mistakes and be humble to earn the respect from players and coaches as well. I hope that, what I'm doing will help get more girls in the arena. Right now there are 5 other female referees and I am super excited to see them grow and represent them well on the field. {{13233}} What would you say to other young women who are interested in pursuing this? I challenge young women, to try it. Work hard and run the extra mile to prove yourself and other people that you can do it too. In 2016 that was my first ever international appointment. I got selected by the Oceania Match Officials to go and referee the 7’s in Oceania, in Fiji for Australian 7’s. It was a huge experience for me because I never thought that I could be, that I would ever be there. I never imagined myself running on that field with New Zealand and Australian teams, which is pretty big women teams. So when I came back and I thought man why can’t I do it, this is door for me and I just want to open this door to all other young girls. I know the feeling that these young girls here in Samoa, it’s the same one I felt ever since when I first started in this career, not trusting myself, putting myself down, then thinking of the mentality of other people and then I thought that’s what people think of me. But you got to challenge yourself and just get there, go on the field and do what you love to do. It’s a total different community when I ref here and ref out of Samoa. So I think now is a massive opportunity for me to share about the work that this refereeing, these boys are doing for the country here in Samoa. They never throw if the spectators doesn’t support them, even the coaches and the players. So I deliver that huge presentation to social media and that’s when we see game changes which is really good. {{13251}} Right now we have some really good young girls, they're doing classes and learning about the game and that’s a good thing. The same thing that I went through, I can feel what they’re feeling right now. Because ever since when they came in, they feel shy. I work for Samoa Rugby Union so some of the times we do competitions for young kids, so I bring these young girls to come in and I say you’re gonna referee this game. I can feel how they feel, I can see because the parents, the parents are the worse spectators here in Samoa. They feel for their kids, they always want their kids to be winners so that’s why it’s a big challenge for these young girls right now. For me, I know that the biggest impact of social media is to deliver the message to these young girls to grow. I don’t want those girls to come the same way that I did. {{13253}} But you carved the pathway, wow, amazing!  What’s your ultimate goal?  Where do you want to be refereeing? For any referee it’s the World Series, the World 7 Series. I’m still working on it. We have some Match Officials panel in Oceania 7’s that’s coming over to Samoa and asses us and talk through some of the things that they want us to improve on. Sometimes you’re happy with the training, sometimes you’re slacking, and that’s the biggest challenge for me right now is my speaking voice. So that’s the biggest challenge. {{13248}}

  • SARONA SNUKA aka TAMINA from WWE

    SARONA SNUKA aka TAMINA from WWE

    Krit catches up with his cousin Sarona who happens to be Superstar WWE Woman Wrestler "Tamina" Snuka - daughter of Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka.

  • SAVELINA FANENE aka NIA JAX from WWE

    SAVELINA FANENE aka NIA JAX from WWE

    Krit caught up with another WWE Superstar wrestling cousin - Savelina Fanene aka Nia Jax in Brooklyn, New York not long after she'd been drafted to the WWE roster ahead of Monday Night Raw!

  • INSPIRING ISLANDER - LAKITA MORRIS-MEREDITH

    INSPIRING ISLANDER - LAKITA MORRIS-MEREDITH

    Lakita Morris-Meredith at just 17 is the only female American Football referee in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 2017 she also became the first female and youngest ref from Aotearoa/New Zealand to officiate at the IFAF Women's World Championship held in Canada.  Lakita grew-up with Gridiron all around her. Her dad, Paul Meredith, played in local team 'WildCats' and represented New Zealand in their national team, the SteelBlacks (previously IronBlacks).  Although Lakita tried some other sports like soccer, it was always gridiron which attracted her. But, being a girl she wasn't allowed to play even though she says with a laugh, she "could've smashed those boys". Lakita instead had to put-up with being a 'watergirl' at the games, while all the time asking questions about the rules. This led her into beginning as a ref at the age of 15. Now at the age of 17 she is in her third season and an inspiring islander as the only female gridiron referee in the country.

  • Samoan/Kiwi Gymnast ARIANA SALAIVAO

    Samoan/Kiwi Gymnast ARIANA SALAIVAO

    13 year old gymnast Ariana Salaivao shares why she's Fresh Out Da Box! From seeing a friend do a flip to begging her parents to join gymnastics - Ariana is well on her way to becoming an Olympian.

  • BEAUTY QUEEN TURNED BEASTMODE - BARBRA AUVA'A

    BEAUTY QUEEN TURNED BEASTMODE - BARBRA AUVA'A

    Barbra Auva'a the Beauty Queen who gave up her heels for Nike's, and her gowns for gym wear - Barbra show's us into her world & her new found love for Power Lifting!

  • Hockey: LULU TUILOTOLAVA - First Tongan Black Stick named in World Cup Team!

    Hockey: LULU TUILOTOLAVA - First Tongan Black Stick named in World Cup Team!

    22 year old Lulu Tuilotolava just became the FIRST Tongan to have made the Black Sticks Hockey team (NZ's National Womens Hockey Team) after being called up in May for the Tri Series against Australia and Japan & now again as part of the World Cup Squad who will be playing in England this month!    {{9562}} The 18 strong squad features 17 of the players who won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in April ... and Lulu!  A spot became available in the team after midfielder Pippa Hayward retired. Lulu was just 5 years old when her Dad, William Tuilotolava decided he wanted his children to play hockey.  He had struck up a conversation with former Black Stick Caryn Paewai at the airport and then went home and told his wife he wanted his kids to get into hockey and since then Lulu and all of her siblings have played. {{9566}} She started playing at Southern Districts Hockey Club in South Auckland and there weren't many other Pacific Islanders playing the sport but she said that it's slowly changing.  "When I first played Premier Grade there was one other girl who was Samoan but it's been pretty cool to see the growth of it."  {{9569}} She said in the interview below with One News that she's proud to be the first Tongan selected in the team but hopes there's more to come. "It just shows that Tongan kids can come out and play hockey." {{9559}} She's currently studying Communications and would to be a Sports Journalist one day but she'll be taking a break from studies for now to join the Black Sticks who leave New Zealand on Sunday for Germany where they'll play in a warm-up tournament next week.  Their first game in the World Cup takes place against Belgium on the 23rd of July. Check out footage of her playing for Auckland against Northland where she scores the last goal. {{9560}}

  • Rugby: Our Samoan International Women Captains around the world

    Rugby: Our Samoan International Women Captains around the world

    Manu Sina shared this tweet last night and we had to take a closer look at these amazing women representing around the globe "An outstanding statistic in @WorldRugby where 5 captains in recent times are Samoans. Tama'ita'i leading from the front. #uso {{11726}} Amazing because Samoa is a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific with a total population of just over 197,000 and to have FIVE Samoan women captaining international teams is an exceptional achievement!   and amazing because 4 of these women captain Tier 1 nations teams. We take a closer look at these captains and their achievements starting with the Manu Sina (Samoa's Womens Rugby) captain. MASUISUIMATAMA'ALI'I (SUI) TAUAUA-PAUARAISA  Captain:  Manu Sina (Samoa) {{11713}} Sui has been described by the Star Kiwi in Canterbury as the definition of a real-life Wonder Woman.  She represents two nations in two different codes (She also played 7s for Samoa) and on top of that she fits in a full-time job as a clinical administrator with the Christchurch District Health Board, while also being a mother to her two young daughters Pine and Paia!  Born in Samoa, Sui moved to New Zealand when she was 13 and played rugby through high school in Auckland before giving rugby a rest when she became a Mother.  She started playing again when she moved to Christchurch in 2010 and said “I only went back to playing because I knew I was getting quite big and just wanted something to do to lose some weight . . . it was just for fun and then it got serious.”.   This year alone she won club titles in both Rugby League with the Linwood Keas and Rugby Union with Christchurch.  She was the only woman who played outside of Auckland clubs called up to the inaugral Warriors NRL team and she made her debut for the Kiwi Ferns against the Australian Jillaroos in October this year. She then captained the Manu Samoa team in the Oceania series in November leading her side to the finals against Fiji!  . FIAO'O FA'AMAUSILI  Captain:  Black Ferns (New Zealand) {{11729}} Fiao'o only just retired from International Rugby after their Northern Hemisphere tour and is the most capped Black Fern ever.  She was named in the 2017 Womens Rugby World Cup Squad and this year in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours Fiao'o was appointed an officer of the NZ order of merit for services to Rugby. Check out more of her story through our 'Daughters of the Migration' story here: {{11727}} . SENE NAOUPU  Captain:  Ireland Womens (Ireland) {{11741}} The Samoan/NZer was named Captain of the Irish Womens Rugby team in their game against England last month & in 2016 was listed by the Irish Times as one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Ireland! Sene (nee Fanene) was born in Oamaru and in her youth played rugby for Nth Otago & Hawkes Bay before walking away from rugby to battle an eating disorder & depression in her 20s. She's since been appointed onto the Board of Directors for 'BodyWhys: The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland. She married Otago Highlanders George Naoupu & moved with him to Ireland where he was playing for Connacht. She started her own business (Senshaper) and is also an international fitness instructor, trainer & lifestyle coach. In 2011 she started playing club rugby again and in 2015 made her debut for Ireland in both 15s and 7s helping Ireland win the womens Six Nations. Just last weekend she graduated with a Masters from the UCD Faculty and UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science . TIFFANY FA'AE'E   Captain:  US Eagles (USA) {{11750}} Born in California, Tiffany, her mother and four siblings moved to Samoa when she was 7.  Three years later, they moved to New Zealand, where a high school coach convinced her to give competitive rugby a go.  Over the next several years she played Rugby League for both Samoa & New Zealand, and in 2014, she bought a one-way ticket to the U.S. and joined the New York Rugby Club, where she won a national title. In 2016 she debuted for the USA Eagles and in 2017 captained the team to a fourth-place finish in the Womens Rugby World Cup before turning to coaching. In April, she was named head coach of the Monroe College men's and women's teams and a couple of weeks ago she  signed a deal to become the first woman coach in U.S. men's professional rugby and will serve as assistant coach of Rugby United New York, a Major League Rugby expansion team. Check out her interview with ESPN Women here & her interview with Rugby City Podcast here . LIZ PATU   Captain:  Wallaroos (Australia) {{11756}} Liz Patu was born in Auckland and then raised in Samoa, before moving to Australia to live in 2004.  She plays club rugby for the Queensland Reds and made her debut for the Wallaroos in 2014 for the Womens Rugby World Cup. Since her debut she's now one of the most experienced players and has just over 20 caps to her name.  She has been described as being fierce in defence and fearless in attack which has made her such an asset to the Wallaroos. She made her debut as Captain for the Wallaroos in the historic double header fixture with the Qantas Wallabies & the All Blacks in Sydney earlier this year.   

  • MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY SOFTBALL - SAMOAN SISTAS!

    MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY SOFTBALL - SAMOAN SISTAS!

    Mississippi State University Softball team recently ran a series of short profile videos on the Samoan sistas in their team.  Represent!  {{12336}} Meet Chloe Malau'ulu from Longbeach, Sarai Niu from San Diego & Fa Leilua from Hawthorne, California and get to know them in the videos below.  They talk aiga, ink and more ...  {{12340}} {{12341}} {{12342}}

  • Pacific Games 2019 Cook Islands vs Samoa Womens League 9 highlights

    Pacific Games 2019 Cook Islands vs Samoa Womens League 9 highlights

    A few of the big hits on display in the first Rugby League game of the day at the 2019 Pacific Games - Cook Islands vs Samoa Womens Rugby League.

  • KEEPIN IT FRESH at the WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE TOURNAMENT

    KEEPIN IT FRESH at the WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE TOURNAMENT

    We're Keepin It Fresh at the Women's Rugby League Tournament in Otahuhu. Check out the highlights from the comp right here!!!

  • BEACH VOLLEYBALL PACIFIC GAMES 2019

    BEACH VOLLEYBALL PACIFIC GAMES 2019

    Highlights of the Women's Beach Volleyball tournament between popular favourites, Vanuatu and Tahiti! Check out this action packed set between two top teams from Oceania at #PacGames2019!

  • ON THE RISE - TONGAN SWIMMER NOELANI DAY

    ON THE RISE - TONGAN SWIMMER NOELANI DAY

    16yr old Tongan swimmer Noelani Day made history last year becoming the youngest swimmer to swim the Apolima Strait between Upolu and Savai'i at the age of 14. She's currently swimming for Tonga at the Pacific Games and came 6th place female in the 5km Open Water out of a total of 21 open water competitors including men.  Her highlights of this games was making the 50m Breast Stroke final. Noelani and Team Tonga take on the 50m Medley relay tonight in their last pool event of the games. She hopes that other young Tongan women will get into sports & pursue their dreams. . . Credits:  Director - Nonga Pulu  Camera Operator - Joshua Savieti  Sound Operator - Nathan Kioa  Editor - Sapati Apa 

  • SAMOA's RUGBY SUPER WOMEN

    SAMOA's RUGBY SUPER WOMEN

    Samoa has produced some of the world's best rugby players.  But for decades, cultural norms prevented women from playing the sport. As a young girl, Tafale longed to play the game, even though her parents discouraged her from taking it up. Now a single mother, she embraces Samoan customs, known as the Fa'a Samoa, and diligently meets her family responsibilities. But she hasn't given up her rugby dreams.  When Olympic try-outs are announced, Tafale is determined to make the women's national team. Can she maintain local traditions and still fulfil her ambitions? Read the film makers view here 

  • RUBY TUI - From childhood adversity to star of the best women’s rugby team in the world

    RUBY TUI - From childhood adversity to star of the best women’s rugby team in the world

    Rugby Sevens is a sport like no other. It the most diverse, exciting and unexpected sport on the planet. It’s players, coaches and fans have unique stories – of dedication, of hardship and of sheer ambition – that are unmatched in any other sport. In the world’s most surprising sport we tell those stories. Ruby Tui never had anything come easy. A fractured childhood was spent between homes. She knew that her life could go down two paths, and that the wrong one could be disastrous. Rugby was the force that guided her down the right path. She has gone on to become one of the best rugby sevens players in the world. Star of the all-conquering New Zealand Black Ferns. Her incredible dedication and hard work has taken her from early challenges to top of her sport.

  • Young Samoan wrestler Aliana Lefotu from Golden Valley High School

    Young Samoan wrestler Aliana Lefotu from Golden Valley High School

    Aliana Lefotu comes from a family of female wrestlers that have achieved much success at Golden Valley High School as sisters Avea (Class of 2017) and Arnae (Class of 2015) left their mark as Lady Bulldog legends. “I am extremely grateful,” states the younger Aliana, “That I have come from a great line of tough girl wrestlers.” Aliana has wrestled for 5 years, two years with the Top Dog Wrestling feeder program and the rest as a high school student at Golden Valley. As a sophomore, Aliana exploded onto the girls’ wrestling scene in Kern County as she accumulated a 42-12 record with 35 pins and a 2-2 record at the CIF State Tournament while wrestling at 131 pounds. This year, Aliana has increased her intensity and focus, hoping to make a deep run at the CIF State Tournament. “I love competing against others,” indicates Aliana, “Competition fuels me to be great.” Wrestling at 137 pounds, Aliana has already accumulated a 26-4 record with top three finishes in some of the toughest tournaments: Last Girls Standing (1st) Queen of the Valley (1st) Queen of the Hill (3rd) and Napa Valley Girl Classic (3rd). Aliana is currently ranked #1 in the CIF Central Section and #8 in the State at 137 pounds.  Click here for Golden Valley High Schools full profile on Aliana More of her wrestling highlights here -  {{16535}}

  • Fresh off the Vote 2020 - Genah Fabian

    Fresh off the Vote 2020 - Genah Fabian

    Genah Fabian is a professional fighter of Māori and Samoan descent. She's a WMC Muay Thai world champion and a MMA athlete in the PFL (Professional Fighters League) and currently trains out of City Kickboxing Gym. Genah has been overseas for the last few elections so this election will be her first time voting.  She tells us why it's so important to be Fresh Off The Vote! . #Fresh Off The Vote #Election2020

  • ALISSA PILI - PAC-12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT

    ALISSA PILI - PAC-12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT

    US college basketball player Alissa Pili has been named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. The young Samoan/Native Alaskan becomes the Trojans' first Pac-12 women's basketball Freshman of the Year recipient since 2009 (Briana Gilbreath). She also becomes the first freshman to be named to the All-Pac-12 team since Oregon's Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu in 2017. Pili led all Pac-12 freshmen in points per game (16.2) and rebounds per game (8.1) en route to the honor, also amassing a freshmen-best 11 double-doubles this season. {{16551}} Michelle Smith, writing for WBB Notebook Pac12.com shares why she voted for Alissa for Freshman of the Year in the Post Season honours here:  Alissa Pili, USC. There were higher-profile freshmen in this class. Stanford had a few, so did Oregon and Oregon State, but none did more for their team than Alaska native Pili, who has averaged 18.8 points a game in Pac-12 play on a super-young USC team that was hampered by injuries, but still proved a tough out in conference play. She has scored in double digits in 12 straight games, averaging 19.8 points a game over that stretch, and has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week three times this season, the first time in school history. {{16555}} On the All-Pac 12 team selection: Alissa Pili, USC - Bright young star who carried a young team. {{16552}} She talks her 'bread and butter' after scoring a career high 32 points and 12 rebounds against WSU following their 66-60 victory in the video above.  Alissa's older brother Brandon also attends USC playing College Football - they did the USC Sibling Quiz below  {{16553}}

  • On the Rise - Bernie King / Kickboxer

    On the Rise - Bernie King / Kickboxer

    Cook Islands/NZ Maori Kickboxer Bernie King is 'On the Rise' and based in Rarotonga where the local Muay Thai & Kickboxing scene is on the come up! . .  Filmed & edited on location in Rarotonga by Johnny Beasley 

  • GENAH FABIAN on SNACKS & CHATS

    GENAH FABIAN on SNACKS & CHATS

    “I won the fight, and I said to all my friends, ‘I’m never doing that again.’ It was terrifying. The anxiety before the fight, the uncertainty, the unknown, it was a totally different feeling to what I’ve experienced before. And then, I took another fight, took another fight.” World champion Muay Thai fighter and mixed martial artist Genah Fabian has been a competitive athlete since she was six years old. She talks to Lani and Ben about how injuries that halted her track career as a teenager not only led her to pursue fighting as a profession, but also taught her valuable lessons about mental toughness, running towards fear and how to persevere when she might once have given up.

  • PFL MMA: INSIDE THE KNOCKOUT - GENAH FABIAN

    PFL MMA: INSIDE THE KNOCKOUT - GENAH FABIAN

    A natural in the women's lightweight division of PFL MMA, Genah Fabian displays her power, speed, and technique. Prepare to go Inside The Knockout!

  • ON THE RISE - VEGAS LATINA CASTLE

    ON THE RISE - VEGAS LATINA CASTLE

    Cook Islands & NZ Maori Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter Vegas Latina Castle is only 15 years old and she's already making her mark on the fight world. She's a 4 time World Champion and has fought in the Pan kids comp in Los Angeles which is one of the most prestigious championships in the world.  She talks here about how she got her start and why her Mum thought it'd be a good idea to put her in Martial Arts. . . Credits:  Director & Editor - Adrian Mcbirney  Camera & Sound Operator - Hayden Aull  Thank you - Lloyd Castle 

  • ON THE RISE - TE ATATU ROOSTERS WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE TEAM

    ON THE RISE - TE ATATU ROOSTERS WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE TEAM

    Meet Harata, Sharelle and the rest of the wahine toa of the mighty Te Atatu Roosters Women's Rugby League Team!!! Find out why these ladies love their league and watch them in action on game day as they battle against the Pukekohe Pythons! . . CREDITS:  Director - Piata Gardiner-Hoskins  Camera/Drone - Hayden Aull  Sound - Kris Thompson 

  • Summer Tapasa-Sataraka continues to be an inspiration after she went viral

    Summer Tapasa-Sataraka continues to be an inspiration after she went viral

    Remember the video of Samoan security worker Summer Tapasa-Sataraka which went viral after she stopped a thief from walking out of Best Buy Hawai'i?   The video caught the attention of UFC CEO Dana White and he flew Summer to Las Vegas for the weekend as his guest at UFC 246.  Check out how it all went down for Summer here  KHON2 TV caught up with her today and she revealed that Dana and the UFC offered her a full time job at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas where she now works security for the organisations corporate office.  Check out their video interview with her below -  “It’s been amazing. Everyone, they’re super, super nice,” she said. “I had a couple fighters take pictures of me like Jon Jones. It’s been pretty amazing since I’ve been here.” {{19344}} She's received plenty of attention via social media and one of her most memorable messages was from a mother who reached out to her about her daughter -  ‘My daughter is big and she’s built beautifully just like you.’ Every time I think of this message, I always get a little emotional because that was me,” said Tapasa, wiping away tears. “She’s wondering if she can be a great person just like me and it literally brought me to tears because as a kid, that was me asking, ‘How come I’m built like this? How come I’m so big?’ So being a big girl taught me to toughen up, taught me to have thick skin, especially with all the bullying going around, I didn’t stand for it. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t how I am. “That made me super proud of what I did because if I can reach this little girl and teach her that big is beautiful and it’s not just about your looks, it’s about your heart.” {{19343}}

  • Kilisitina Moata'ane X Rugby Player - The Outliers

    Kilisitina Moata'ane X Rugby Player - The Outliers

    Tina the Tongan Tank (Tina Maota’tane) is a Black Fern based in Dunedin who likes to run it straight. The Outliers is a gritty, unapologetic look at youth from minority backgrounds in New Zealand.  From great adversity comes great strength, so the aim of The Outliers is to search out youth who are the standout, the anomaly or the outlier in their community and in New Zealand. The Outliers meets inspirational youth while also exploring the source of most minority success - the community where they come from! . Produced by Fire Fire for Māori Television | Made with the support of NZ On Air

  • PASIFIKA AOTEAROA CUP 7s FESTIVAL 2020

    PASIFIKA AOTEAROA CUP 7s FESTIVAL 2020

    The Pasifika Aotearoa Cup 7s Festival was back again for the 7th year running yesterday at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura. The festival started out as as a tournament for Pasifika and Maori female players and in it's first year had 4 teams participating.  It is now open to everyone and has grown to be one of the biggest if not THE biggest womens rugby 7s tournaments in the world with just over 50 teams participating in this years one day tournament. "There's been a huge increase in the numbers & interest" says former Black Ferns and Women’s Rugby Development Manager at New Zealand Rugby, Vania Wolfgramm. Vania is also credited with successfully developing the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup and bringing more women into sport. {{20048}} When the tournament first started it only had an Open Womens Grade but it has now grown to include an Under 11s ripper grade, Under 13s, Under15s, Under 18s and the Open Womens.  The Open Womens also now includes a 'Tight Five' section which is for 'Props, Hookers & Locks' and Vania says it is probably the most skilful, entertaining rugby that you'll find anywhere.   The Wellington Barbarians won the Tight Five grade and have been participating in the tournament for the last 5 years.   "They really put on quality rugby and it's great to see them here especially this year" says Vania "Apart from the Wellington Barbarians who travelled the furthest, we also had teams come through from Rotorua, Hamilton, Keri keri, Rotoiti and Taupiri.  We haven't had anyone from the South Island yet but it's always been in the pipeline to take the tournament across the country."  she added. {{20051}} The tournament had been up in the air due to Covid so it was exciting for Vania and her team to have it finally be able to go ahead.   She said another highlight of the event for her was being able to include the younger girls and this year they were also able to run an event on Friday night celebrating wahine in rugby and especially in the non-playing roles which are often volunteer roles - coaching, administration, refereeing, manager roles.   "We really need to have more females in that space to accommodate the spike or increase in player numbers" she said. {{20066}} This year former Black Fern Marina Canterbury led the tournament for the first time and during the powhiri she responded on behalf of the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup staff doing the Karanga for the first time.   "In this tournament the values were underpinned by our cultural values and this was one of the points I really loved about this tournament" added Vania. Other results from the day - Open Womens Grade winners - Ponsonby Rugby Club U15s winners - One Tree Hill School U18s winners - Howick College  For more information on the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup and to register a team for next years tournament - keep an eye on NZ Rugby news page here  {{20080}}