Fash­ion Q&A: Pita Ta­ufato­fua

mailife - - Contents - By JOHN MITCHELL Photo byJONE LUVENITOGA

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.

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