Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

New min-doco shows Korean pop culture making big impression among Pasifika youth

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Kendall Vano | Reporter

The South Korean pop culture phenomenon, famously known as K-pop, has taken the world by storm and landed on Aotearoa shores garnering a  growing fan base among young Pasifika.

Litia Tuiburelevu, director of the new documentary ‘K-Polys,’ explains, “It’s about Pacific youth and their relationship to K-pop, encompassing music, dance, and entertainment.”

Tuiburelevu highlights the struggle for Pasifika youth to express themselves outside traditional norms. 

“Pacific people sometimes find it hard to express themselves in ways that are seen as traditionally Pacific.” 

The documentary spotlights three Pasifika youth navigating these challenges, including Boba, a K-pop performer who found solace and acceptance through music.

“After I joined the crew, they helped me to really spread my wings and spread positivity to the world,” says Boba. 

For Mavis Maumalanga, Boba’s mother, K-pop became a healing force for her family after the loss of her husband, saying, “It helped us deal with the grief.”

Ashley Kirkness, a K-pop choreographer, recalls the early days of feeling isolated in her love for K-pop, noting, “Back in 2011, it wasn’t really common to find Islanders who listened to K-pop.” 

Meanwhile, Ethan Fihaki, another choreographer, finds fulfilment in the sense of community within the K-pop scene. 

“You’re not dancing alone. You get to be part of something bigger than yourself,” say’s Ethan. 

As Pasifika youth continue to embrace K-pop, Mavis Maumalanga urges acceptance and understanding from older generations.

“We have to realise this generation is different from 60 years ago, 50 years ago. I’m asking and begging island parents, if your child or if your children like K-pop music, please learn it from me and my daughter,” she says.

With a new generation of K-Pollies taking centre stage, the fusion of cultures promises to bring about exciting changes in Pasifika communities.

The short doco is a collaboration with the Spin Off and Hexwork productions. 

The full doco is available on The Spinoff.

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