Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Māngere business collective putting Pasifika first

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Avatar photo
John Pulu | Presenter/ Reporter/Director

A new collective of Pasifika businesses operating in the Māngere town centre is looking forward to the festive season.

It’s not every day you see a catwalk at the Māngere town centre. This is the vision of Ernestina Bonsu Maro who is passionate about promoting local talent keen to get into the industry.  

“EMB models is literally just a platform for our people to shine. You know whether it’s through music, performing arts, modelling, talent pageantry, it’s that time to bring it all into one space.”

The multi-faceted creative is the force behind EMB artistry, a new talent agency based in the South Auckland area.

“There’s a hub here now and hey if there’s a Tyra Banks or Naomi Campbell, there’s going to be that version, but the Māngere version you know; we’ve got to make it pop how we can and how we can with our youth,” Bonsu Maro says.

Ernestina is one of eleven new businesses at the Nesian Collective initiative supported by local charitable trust, I Am Māngere – by Pasifika for Pasifika.

From Pacific art to beauty products and even cookies and pineapple pies, you’ll find something here for all ages.

Noeleen Tuala is the owner of Pele Baby, a company making poly-patterned goodies for our wee treasures.   

“I am a nana to five grandchildren and a few years ago I went searching for Pasifika design blankets and there was nothing on the market,” Tuala says.

A year ago, her small business was born selling products online showcasing her Tongan and Samoan heritage.

“Quality always comes through in the feedback that we receive and the designs. You know people want their babies to embrace their culture, you know, in the form of a Pasifika designed blanket, or a playmat or a wrap.”

Pele is a name reserved for a loved one and speaking of love there is a special range of handmade jewellery on display at the store by Danika Cooper.

“I fell in love with Cook Islands pearls while I was up in Rarotonga and then we had struggles trying to find jewellery that fitted my partner Tumua so we decided to give it a go at making it ourselves and so it started just with some beaded bracelets and then we got interest from other people who had the same problem you know not finding something that was able to fit them so one size does not fit all,” Cooper says.

Starting off in East Auckland Danika and her partner Tumua Tuifao now specialise and even custom make Tahitian pearls for any occasion.

Cooper says it’s gratifying to see people wear her jewellery.

“Because when you are shopping online it’s really hard to see if it actually suits you… so having a store that actually shows your jewellery, it’s been amazing for us.

“Everything we have here is genuine Pasifika business-created. You are supporting local businesses and, in this day and age, that’s the way to go. You really want to be supporting the people around you,” Cooper says.

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