Fashion Q&A: Pita Taufatofua
WHY DID YOU ACCEPT THE INVITATION TO BE IN FIJI?
I have a strong bias towards the Pacific. I haven’t been to Fiji in a couple of years so when I came across the opportunity to visit the Pacific, to be part of a strong fashion event and in Fiji, I said “why not?” If I could have an opportunity to take the Pacific to the world, using fashion as a platform, I am going to try and push that.
ARE YOU BIG ON FASHION?
Absolutely! It is what makes me feel good and empowered as a person. For me it is not about following a trend, it is about being my own trend and expressing myself with whatever I choose to wear.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF FASHION?
Fashion is something you wear as an extension of yourself. It is your internal being external. With me, you might see me with one or two extra tight shirts. That is myself trying to say I feel strong and empowered. I am trying to take a message from inside me and put it across to the world.
HOW DO WE CREATE AND PROMOTE OUR OWN FASHION TO THE WORLD?
Us in the Pacific, we have to first believe we have something absolutely unique for the rest of the world to see. We grew up thinking that we are a bit behind but the truth is we have what everyone wants. We have happiness. Our fashion should express that. We should embrace our uniqueness not us trying to copy someone else.
HAVE YOU BEEN IN FIJI BEFORE?
I am probably on my fifteenth or twentieth trip to Fiji. My mum used to live here in Suva while she was working for the South Pacific Tourism Organisation a few years back so I used to fly in and out of Suva on a regular basis.
TALK ABOUT ONE OF THOSE TRIPS HERE?
I was best man in my best friend’s wedding in Denarau. That was really beautiful so I feel I’m connected to Fiji and it is strong in my heart. It doesn’t matter where I go in the world, when people ask me where the most friendly people in the world are, I say Fiji!
ALTHOUGH YOU ARE TONGAN?
Yes! people ask me aren’t you Tongan? I say yeah, but Fijians are still the kindest people in the world.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF FIJI?
Seeing my Tongan friend get here to get married to the person he loves and in beautiful scenery.
WORST MEMORY OF FIJI
You know what? I can’t think of one. So it must be a good thing I think.
YOUR BEST FIJIAN FOOD?
I like all Pacific Island foods. I do like the Indian influences on food here in Fiji. I like your curries and roti and certainly all root crops such as taro and cassava.
WHAT DO YOU DO AS A HOBBY?
All my work is hobbies. If you are not doing what you love then what are you doing? There’s a reason why I travel and be in different country on a different day, not because I am wasteful but because I love what I am doing.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
I do a number of things. I have a degree in engineering, I’ve done youth work, modeling and I’ve done acting. I’m keeping my eyes open and maybe do a movie at some stage.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
I was born in Australia but spent most of my childhood in Tonga. I know live in the US.
WHAT WAS YOUR UPBRINGING LIKE?
My father wanted to take me to the farm and drag me through the cassava plots to show me, my brothers and my sisters what it means to struggle and be a Pacific Islander. People look at me and say I don’t have the skin of a Polynesian. Well I may not have the skin of a Polynesia but look at my hands. I have the hands of a Polynesian because I have been climbing trees since I was young and I have been getting a hiding from my parents as well.
YOU WERE TONGA’S FLAG BEARER AT THE RIO OLYMPICS IN 2016…..CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?
It was an honour. To qualify was one thing but to carry a nation’s flag was unbelievable. But I didn’t carry the flag for just Tonga, I carried the flag for all of the Pacific, because it is our time now. It is our time to stop being followers and start being leaders.