Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Siuhuu Marketplace: bringing Pacific way to the online space

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Siuhuu is a Pacific owned online marketplace for the people of the South Pacific to sell and buy any products including traditional products. Photo: Supplied
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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

A Tongan woman’s dream to create a safe space for Pacific people to buy and sell traditional Pacific products online has become a reality.

Sydney-based Akanesi Tohotoa says she searched extensively to find an online marketplace specialising in Pacific products but came up blank. That’s when she decided it was time to fulfill a life long dream and start up her own platform to cater for the needs of her community. 

That platform is called Siuhuu (like “Choo hoo!”, a Pacific call used in times of dance and celebration) and it went operational in August. Based in Sydney, Australia Siuhuu is designed to connect Pacific people across the world to buy and sell their products. 

Akanesi says she is excited to provide the platform, bringing her passion for an online marketplace closer to the Pacific community. 

“I’ve always imagined if only there was a website or platform for Pacific Islanders where you can just go there and all the Pacific Island products are available for you to buy instead of asking around,” she says.

Akanesi took a leap of faith and said goodbye to a job with the Bible Society in Sydney and set out to create her own business. 

Founder and creator of Siuhuu Marketplace, Akanesi Tohotoa. Photo: Supplied

After completing a six month intensive course on website development, including coding, she designed and set up her own platform and Siuhuu was born. Along with a small team, she is proud of what they have been able to create in such a short time. 

“I’m hoping that Pacific people will see the same vision that I have for the website because I think this will be a game changer or a future of trading for Pacific Islanders no matter where they are in the world.” 

Akanesi says vendors in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and other Pacific nations can utilise Siuhuu to showcase their traditional arts and crafts to the world whether that be in fashion, jewellery or handicrafts. 

Equally as important, Akanesi is adamant that Siuhuu is a safe and secure place not only for businesses, but also for the consumer, where Pacific people can avoid scammers and prevent the heartache of not only losing money but also their goods.

“We bring the sellers and buyers together in one platform so they can sell their products directly,” she says. 

“We’ve heard so many stories of some of my families and friends who have lost money to scammers on facebook; for example, traditional mats, and I mean there’s nothing out there to protect them from losing their money.”

Siuhuu has a comprehensive outline on its website about how it all works. There are details about how to become a seller or a buyer and information about currency (all prices in Australian dollars) and payment systems like Stripe and Paypal (Stripe not currently available in Pacific region). 

Vendors from across the Pacific can use Siuhuu to showcase their traditional arts and crafts. Photo: Supplied

The terms of use including policies, rules and regulations and copyright, are all outlined. There’s a team to watch over the handling of products, complaints procedures, refund policies and cancellations. 

“We are watching the website so we will be looking if there’s anything that’s unlawful or that’s not sticking to the rules … unlawful activity, defamatory, discriminatory, we’ve listed all on the terms of use of conditions.”

Of Tongan heritage, Akanesi says they are encouraged by the feedback they have received since Siuhuu went operational, “I want it to be useful for our people, the purpose is to help support our Pacific Island people and our Pacific Island small nations.” 

It is still early days for Siuhuu and while Akanesi and her team continue to work around the clock to build the platform, she is excited about the next phase for Siuhuu. She’s currently in talks with restaurants in Tonga to come on board and use their services and is keen to invite investors to take a chance on their small start-up.

For Akanesi this is a passion and dream to help her Tongan and wider Pacific people. 

“Even though it’s small at the moment, there are so many possibilities that we can add onto the website later on … here we already have a platform for you to come and showcase your talents and sell what you love to create and the products that you love to sell.”

So if you are looking to buy or sell Pacific food and drink, traditional items, clothing, jewellery, beauty products, furniture or gifts then look no further than Siuhuu. 

As we say in the islands “choo hoo!” to Siuhuu – online marketing, the Pacific way. 

For more information, you will find them on FB, linkedin, instagram, twitter and check out their website.



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