Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tonga Sisters bring inspiration and sisterhood to ‘Young, Free & Pacific’

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

The Mangere Arts Centre was buzzing with enthusiasm recently as high school students from across Auckland gathered for the annual “Young Free and Pacific” leadership conference.

Organised by Affirming Works, the event was aimed at celebrating Pasifika culture, nurture leadership qualities, and foster a sense of pride among high school students.

Affirming Works organiser Ennaolla Paea

Affirming Works organiser Ennaolla Paea, expressed her excitement for the conference.

“It is probably our most exciting event of the calendar… It’s really to bring them (the students) together and celebrate how amazing it is just to be Pasifika.” she says

The conference was not only a chance for these ambitious young girls to come together but also an opportunity to welcome special international guests from Hawaii, The Tonga Sisters.

Tonga Sisters member, Tiueti Tonga

Known for their incredible harmonies and appearances on notable platforms such as Nickelodeon and Ellen, the Tonga Sisters were thrilled to be part of the event.

“It’s been five years since we’ve been here. But it’s been amazing,” says Tiueti Tonga.

“The weather, the food, the people—everything is just elevated. We’re taking it all in!”

Tonga sister Lela, acknowledged the importance of representing the Polynesian community, emphasising the significance of staying motivated as a young artist.

Throughout the day, the sisters led various creative workshops, helping the students explore their own talents, inspiring them with their own personal journey.

Tonga Sisters member Nini Tonga.

Celebrating the rich tapestry of Pacific cultures was the main message for the artists as Nini Tonga passionately expressed.

“Being Polynesian has shaped me into who I am today. It’s in our humour, our treatment of each other as cousins, sisters, and relatives—it’s just our way of life.”

Her sister Siva added, “There’s no better feeling than being a proud young Pacific woman. Just being young and Pacific, honestly, thank the Lord!”

The “Young Free and Pacific” conference happens annually for senior high schoolers bringing together young Pasifika leaders, inspiring them to embrace their cultural heritage and strive for greatness.

If you or someone you know would like to get involved, you can contact your school’s careers advisor or visit https://affirmingworks.org.nz/ for more information.



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