Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Cecilia Sagote of Seki Media
Owning a steady business is one thing. But to maintain a business and to constantly be innovative is another.
That’s what Melbourne-based Pasifika business LASHFIX have been working on in the last year as they closed up their brick and mortar salon in the trendy suburb of Port Melbourne to focus on a ‘giving back’ method to build their brand.
And it’s a move that is working for them.
For six years, sisters Venna, 33 and Ama, 26 operated their popular beauty business which saw a stream of diverse clients coming in and out, from social media influencers to international female sports stars.
The trials and errors they experienced in running their shop have been valuable for the duo’s business growth.
“Running our beauty salon definitely took up a lot of time and energy,” says Venna.
“It wasn’t easy but we learnt so much. Like what it means to have a budget and work within it. It’s crazy thinking back to how we were able to pay wages every week, pay $7000 a month to rent and keep the lights on plus tax. We learnt so much about ourselves but it wasn’t always rainbows and fairies. We were stretched so thin.”
They remind other entrepreneurs that doing what you love doesn’t mean it should drain you to the point that you are compromising other important areas.
“It is crucial you are looking after your mental and physical health. If you are constantly running on passion alone and not nurturing the other parts of your body and your life, you will feel drained. This is something we learnt the hard way.”
Now with Covid-19 taking over Melbourne and putting enormous dents in small businesses everywhere, the girls say that the pandemic has instead given them time to reflect on their business goals.
“To be honest, Covid came at the perfect time for us. We were just about to renew our lease but because we were forced to close down in March, we had time to be with our family and just enjoy being in their presence. It gave us the time we needed to re-centre, refocus and shift our perspective on what we value.”
And part of that re-focus is working on a new dimension of their LASHFIX brand: Teaching.
Last year Lashfix had orchestrated training workshops in Auckland and Melbourne leading up to the closure of their salon. The girls are grateful that they have managed to run a few training workshops in Melbourne as their sole focus for business just before Covid hit.
“We have always wanted to offer lash training. A lot of the high school clients here in Melbourne are NZ citizens which meant that they’re not eligible for student loans or government assistance.”
“I remembered them saying things like, ‘I wish I was able to do this or that.’ They felt like their only option was factory work which isn't a bad thing. Our parents worked in factories so we are not bagging factory work. We just want to create a different pathway for young Pasifika women.”
And with valuable lash experience under their belts, they are able to command $2000 - $5000 per person for their courses. Lashfix also offer the Afterpay option so that students can pay in instalments and alleviate any debt.
“The most common feedback we get from our training courses, is that we are warm and inviting. The space we have created is open, safe and comfortable.
“A lot of the time, our students are surprised at how much there is to learn about lashes and the business side. We've even had girls come to us after training elsewhere looking for more intense training.”
Book your lashfix course and start your career in beauty! www.lashfix.com.au
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Anau Mesui-Henry
“One of the most important things in our lives is the bringing forward of Indigenous knowledge and
countering the dominant knowledge of things." Sonia Fonua
Fire and Sonia Fonua are the creative couple behind ‘Koloa Jewellery’. They are passionate about the process of ngatu (tapa cloth or decorated bark cloth) making, the history that it holds, and reimagining ngatu when it becomes unusable as koloa (treasure or gift). The passion behind Koloa Jewellery stems from a love of the Tongan culture and a desire to see it shared with their children. Not tucked away under a mattress or in the basement of the Auckland Museum.
So, who are Fire and Sonia, and where did the inspiration to create these beautiful pieces come from?
Fire, was three years old when he moved with his mother to Aotearoa. Hailing from the villages of Fasi and Kolofo’ou, Fire lived in Mangere until he was ten years old, then his family moved to Glen Innes where he, Sonia, and their two young sons still reside. Fire comes from a hospitality background, having managed various restaurants and bars, but now works from home to be there for his children.
The second part of the Koloa Jewellery equation, Sonia, who is of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English
descent, was born in Aotearoa. Currently working at the University of Auckland, Sonia has just finished her Ph.D.exploring successful Tongan science learners and their experiences in Aotearoa and Tonga's science education.
“They pointed to a huge Tongan ngatu wrapped in plastic, explained it, but no one could see it because it was wrapped in white plastic. Ngatu is put under the bed, and no one sees it, our kids don’t see it, our koloa only comes out in a katoaanga (special occasion)”, Fire reflects.
While on a basement tour of the Auckland Museum, Sonia and Fire were surprised to find a large amount of beautifully designed and crafted Tongan koloa. The tour was part of a museum plan to engage the Moana Oceania community more widely. However, it only left the founders of Koloa Jewellery with more questions: Why aren't these Tongan koloa accessible to the public? Why did European ornaments and artefacts get displayed in abundance above while these incredible Tongan items were kept in the basement and only accessible on special tours? "Some of this beautifully designed ngatu were 30-40 meters long and some close to 100 metres", Fire shared.
“That’s when we thought we can make it more accessible. Bring more life to it, bring it to life. Look at
details you would never look at”, Sonia commented.
This experience inspired Fire and Sonia to start creating. Before they knew it, Koloa Jewellery had been formed with Fire's enthusiastic mother assigned to design approval.
Why did they choose the name Koloa you might be asking?
“The name Koloa is because of what it is collectively named and because it is koloa too. It is part of Tongan history, it’s a treasure for our culture to have it. When you start thinking about the people who made the koloa and the occasions it’s been used as a gift, it’s a koloa to have people in Tonga still being able to make it”, Fire enlightens me.
Fire shares fond memories of the taovala (traditional waist garment) his father had worn for years, occasions the taovala had been to, and how his grandmother had lalanga (weaved) this taovala. There is a whole history in each piece of koloa, like Fire’s father’s taovala. To discard these taovala, or any koloa, is not just discarding a piece of deteriorating traditional garment or cloth, it is throwing history away.
"We have the Tongan village here," Fire laughs.
Fortunately, Fire and Sonia share their home with a large extended family, which enables the support they need to run their business, manage a young family, and ensure their day-to-day needs are met. The collective support of communal living allows Fire and Sonia the flexibility they need to create Koloa Jewellery pieces. They are very thankful, especially for the support of Fire's mum, who is their number one supporter.
“Our advice is… Just do it…Don't overthink it, just do it", - Fire and Sonia.
What strikes me about Fire and Sonia is their can-do and creative attitude towards creating Koloa Jewellery. Just do it. After the Auckland Museum basement tour, Sonia decided she was going to make jewellery. She ordered some resin online and started creating. Sonia and Fire brought various tools and equipment and experimented with different styles and looks.
Additionally, Sonia’s mother in law, Lavinia, would happily provide advice on the aesthetic of the pieces and so the creation process was shaped.
“We appreciate what the koka'anga does, and we want to help these businesses in Tonga," says Fire.
Koloa Jewellery will be taking a portion of its sales to support various koka'anga (the process of joining tapa and applying the kupesi) in Tonga. In fact, this process was supposed to start this coming July, but plans were halted due to COVID-19. While COVID-19 may have paused the project, Fire and Sonia still anticipate being with the koka'anga once border controls open in Tonga.
Each Koloa Jewellery piece is unique. These beautifully designed pieces of jewellery are not perfect because they aren't machine-made, but this adds to their beauty. Like a Tongan woman's individual koloa that's kept stored under the mattress, they are made from ngatu that have been handprinted by women who took time to design and share stories of the kupesi (patterns) that they painted. In the lines and details of the kupesi, Tongan culture and its history are embedded. Designs that are imperfect but perfect by the history that underpins them. Attaining a piece of Koloa Jewellery is not just a purchase, but a commitment to preserving history and heritage.
This dynamic duo is passionate about Indigenous culture and ways of being. “When we sell to non- Pacific peoples we get to explain what ngatu is. I am teaching them a part of my own culture that they would have not known or paid attention to”, Fire shares. Sonia adds, “I sold some earrings to someone I knew who is Maori and she said since buying them she doesn't buy anything that doesn't have an Indigenous culture behind it”. Wearing Koloa Jewellery is wearing history, heritage, and culture.
Koloa Jewellery can be ordered online. Please follow the links below to access your very own unique
piece of Koloa Jewellery. By the time this article goes live, I would have happily picked up a pair of
beautiful Koloa Jewellery earrings to add to my collection.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub | Written by Anau Mesui-Henry
What stands out about Pauline Haunga from Marie and Pauline Events Decoration is her contagious enthusiasm and upbeat personality. Pauline is persistent, resilient, and is solution-oriented. There is always an answer to the challenges that Pauline faces.
Originally from the Kingdom of Tonga, Pauline was born in Aotearoa and raised in Tonga by her loving grandparents in the village of Fasi. At the young age of a month old, Pauline’s mother, a solo parent at the time, had her sent to Tonga. This tough decision was made out of the desire for Pauline to have the best upbringing possible.
In 1985, at five years old, an attempt was made for Pauline to return to Aotearoa, but her doting grandmother, attached to her granddaughter, insisted that they stay together in Tonga. It would be ten years later when Pauline would make the journey back to Aotearoa and attend Wellington East Girls College.
“I knew at the age of 18 years old that I wanted to be a businesswoman,” Pauline shares.
I am not surprised at this sentiment. The more I talk to Pauline, the more I realise that business is in the fabric of her makeup. Embedded in her being are layers of moments where she watched her grandfather, ‘Anitelu Kaulave, run multiple falekolas (shops), and her aunty run a successful business.
Pauline grew up in Tonga, working in her family's shops, and as such, business was a natural instinct. Her elders had forged a path that Pauline now stands on proudly, adding her mark to the industry of event decoration. The saying that ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants’ is true of Pauline’s business journey.
“I started the company seven years ago…I love to decorate, and when my first child was born, my husband was the only one working while I stayed at home…Out of the struggle of living on one wage, I started the business,” Pauline recalls.
To help raise her young family, the resourceful Pauline began throwing around ideas of how she could generate money. When Pauline’s friend suggested starting an events decoration business, she did not hesitate. With the help of her husband, parents, and grandparents, she set off to pursue her dreams.
Marie and Pauline Events Decoration Limited registered as a company on the 15th of May in 2015, and the rest is history.
The company offers services in hiring props, decorating venues, funerals, weddings, corporate events, small events like baby showers, and lastly, graduations.
“To be honest, managing a family and running a business is not easy,” Pauline comments.
The road to establishing the company has not come with its challenges. Pauline advises that “sometimes I would work until 3am and not sleep”. Additionally, it was a challenge with the spouse who, at times, would perceive Pauline as putting business before family.
However, as Pauline describes, the dream is right there within her grasp. She can see it, feel it, and taste it. And, for this reason, Pauline fervently works on her business with the dream in sight. Pauline is single-minded about reaching her goals and shares that if you believe in yourself, then you will get to where you are going to no matter what obstacle is thrown on your path.
This strong-headed, tenacious entrepreneur is set on what she is out to achieve, and there is no doubt that her determination will see her succeed. This mindset is refreshing, and I am all for it.
“Believe in yourself and take action. You have to work for the dream,” Pauline comments.
Believe in yourself and take action. You have to work for the dream
“The hardest thing in the business is needing to know how much you want to charge people and how much people are willing to pay”, Pauline advises.
Although Pauline faces challenges with her pricing and over-spending due to a desire to make her customers happy, COVID19 has been a blessing in disguise.
During the lockdown period, Pauline has been honing into these two challenges and taking practical steps to improve. While she will keep what I coined the ‘Pauline Model’, where she asks customers whether their event is price or quality dependant and charges accordingly, other things in the business are also getting a revamp.
What is this exactly? Mindset. “My mindset is starting to change, and I am starting to overcome,” Pauline says about her business strategy.
As a result of Pauline’s heart to see her customers happy and satisfied with her service, often, she goes the extra mile, but at her expense. However, Pauline is resilient and is a quick learner. Instead of resting during COVID19, she is busy mentally positioning herself for post-pandemic business growth.
“One of the proudest moments of my business journey is meeting the customers’ expectations. I want to ensure I can create what these customers desire and achieve this within their budget. I am so proud of meeting people’s needs and visiting a venue empty, and I can transform that space into something beautiful.”
It is apparent that Pauline loves nothing more than seeing customers walk away, smiling, and happy with the event decoration service provided. A happy customer is a happy Pauline. This hard-working and vibrant entrepreneur is sought after in the community, and it is no wonder. Not only does she have a can-do attitude, but she also goes the extra mile by providing complimentary items to make customer events even more special. During the whole customer experience, right from the moment when Pauline answers her phone to pack-down, she ensures that her customers feel welcomed, heard, and cared for.
“Get up, stand up and never give up,” Pauline quotes.
Pauline ends our interview by telling me that it is never too late, there is always a solution to every challenge in life, especially in business. I see the resolve and grit in Pauline and ask her where she gets that from.
“My grandfather, ‘Anitelu, who is now 85 years old. He was a businessman in Tonga. He worked for AFa Cocker from 1951-1963. He planted peanuts, and in 1963 he went to America Samoa to sell his peanuts there. In 1964, my grandfather returned to Tonga and opened his first fale'koloa (shop) in Fasi. It was successful, and so he opened two and three, by 1968 there were five shops. That's how I adopted my mindset because I was around it growing up," Pauline reminisces.
Lastly, Pauline acknowledges that she would have not been able to do what she does without God’s love, wisdom, and knowledge.
Watch this space. Follow Marie and Pauline’s Event Decoration’s journey below on social media because this is one entrepreneur that is certain to make a mark in the event decoration industry in Aotearoa!
Phone: +64 21 0229 1821
SAMOAN OWNED MULTIMEDIA BUSINESS
The story of the man behind the Apple Mac of Bluwave is a true testimony of how following one’s passions and turning what you love into a career, coupled with perseverance and hard work - is the best recipe for success.
The name Bluwave (blue wave) or galu moana in Samoan, was a tribute to Martin’s daughter, Vaimoana and his love for waves (galu). He combined the two and came up with Galumoana, which was translated to Bluwave (minus the e) for the non-Samoans who found it too difficult to pronounce Galumoana. When asked about how he started, Martin laughingly mimicked the late Biggie Smalls, “It all started with a dream...” Yeah, nuh. Lol. Let’s fast forward a bit.
Meet entrepreneur Martin Anae - videographer, photographer, graphics and website designer extraordinaire. Quiet, humble and so, so polite, Martin is the most easy-going, friendly and helpful guy you would ever meet. He is a perfectionist when it comes to his work. His talent for producing digital media content and attention to detail is impressive to witness, and his commitment to delivering beyond client expectation is hi obsession, which is demonstrated through the quality of his works.
Born and raised in Samoa, Martin had no idea he would ever be pursuing a career in Digital Media.
In fact, he was in Auckland studying something completely different, when he discovered graphic designing through one of his long life friends, Hylda von Dincklage who was studying Graphics Design at UNITEC. Martin would tag along to the study sessions of his then girlfriend and now wife Sahara, he would sit there for hours watching over Hylda’s shoulder disturbing her studies with questions after questions on Photoshop. It was here, that Martin knew what he would love to do for the rest of his life.
But it wasn’t to be an easy path especially with the fact that Martin was studying Marketing and Communications, NOT Graphic Designing. So, Martin took every opportunity to learn photoshop and photography from wherever he could. Even after returning to Samoa, Martin never stopped learning. He learnt photography, videography and editing from some of the best on the island. He had found his passion and there was no turning back.
In 2010 he moved his family to Auckland and had decided against doing the 9 to 5 rather, he will commit all his energy on establishing his Bluwave brand. It hasn’t been an easy road though.
Being self-employed meant less income and making extreme sacrifices to name a couple. Bluwave did not have a start-up capital and his loan applications were constantly declined by banks. Martin then decided to stop asking the financial institutions for help and go at it by himself.
Thinking back of when he first started out, Martin says he would do videography gigs and graphic designing at rates as low as $50.00, to help his wife with the bills and to put food on the table, he would work at the Sanford fish market in the city sorting fish at $12.50 an hour and working the back of the rubbish trucks for $11.00 an hour. Martin laughed and explained that his younger brother Peter would hate picking him up from work because he smelled like fish and rubbish. "Fun times" he laughed.
In 2012 he was able to afford his first camera, The Canon 7D M2 and with that camera he built Bluwave. With every job, he would put aside money to buy the equipment he needed.
Their family living room became his office space - every corner was occupied by desks and computers and a giant whiteboard filled with his schedules and plans, now replaced the family TV over the fireplace. The basement garage was converted into a makeshift studio for his photography, and his backyard became a shooting location for some of his best photoshoots for modelling, short video skits and even YouTube music videos for his clients. Even though it was not an ideal working space for a multimedia business nor his family, Martin’s ingenuity and perseverance, and with the support of his wife and family, Bluwave flourished.
Companies such as G-Mana Wholesale Autos and PacificEzy were his first real clients where real progress started to take place. Then SSAB Sei Oriana and Seki Works joined the Bluwave family became long term clients and friends.
In joining the Samoa Business Network (SBN) in 2012, this brought in more clients that now covered government departments and private businesses. The workflow expanded and flowing steadily. But as Martin’s reputation and clientele steadily grew, so was the need for a proper working studio.
Around the same time, the Pacific Business Hub (hereon known as The Hub) had just opened, offering affordable workspaces. Through the SBN Martin had connected with Laura Keil-Hall who is the Owner and Founder of The Hub, who encouraged Martin to move the Bluwave studio into The Hub. It would be a conversation and decision that Martin has marked down and one of the biggest blessings in his life. Bluwave was one of the first companies that made The Hub its office. But immediately after moving into The Hub, Martin realised that this was not just an office. Laura would encourage him daily to push on and never give up. Sometimes Martin was slow with rent, Laura would always brush this aside and made Martin feel like, “no you are not in The Hub because I need your money, you are in The Hub because I see potential in you”. Seeing such a positive and strong woman, Martin used that to add more fuel in his drive to keep moving forward. With an awesome Owner and the people who have now occupied The Hub generating good vibes and positive working environment, Martin feels like that God love him the most for blessing him with a true home away from home. And Sahara, his wife, is finally enjoying having their living room and family space back!
True to his humble nature, Martin wishes to acknowledge and thank all the businesses and individuals who have supported and stood by Bluwave throughout the years: Laura Keil-Hall, Faimalo Allan Stowers, Galumalemana Tai Galumalemana, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, Rasmus Pereira, Melissa Stanley, Maria Malaki, Talai Junior Lene and Peseta Sio Isara of Digicel, Agnes Saili Kerslake of SkyEye, JP Adams. For those who Martin have missed, he wishes God good blessings upon you all.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub
Authored by Melania Wulf of Wulf Publishing
COOK ISLANDER, FAMILY LAW SPECIALIST, ENTERTAINER - KRISTY MORGAN
Originally from the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island in Napier, Kristy Morgan has recently set up her own practice, Kristy Morgan Barrister, in the hustle and bustle of South Auckland. She decided to venture out on her own in 2019, providing legal services as a family law specialist, after over ten years’ experience as a family lawyer.
Ironically, Kristy shares that she had no intentions of pursuing tertiary education, let alone become a lawyer. “After high school, I worked as a receptionist for the Ministry of Social Development. Through a cadetship program with the Ministry, I was transferred to Auckland and started working as a Case Manager”, says Kristy.
Moving to Auckland was a culture shock for Kristy, who shares that despite being of Cook Islands Maori descent, she was not exposed to her pacific culture very often.
“Growing up, I never felt connected to my culture. In high school, I was one of two pacific islanders in my class. The other was my best friend”, she smiles.
While they took part in the few cultural activities available throughout school, it was in Auckland where Kristy developed a genuine and personal connection with her pacific island culture and roots through pacific dance and music. It unlocked a passion that Kristy is now dedicated to. She shares that this has also sparked a passion and resurgence of the pacific identity and culture in her family.
Today, Kristy is the Operations and Marketing Director for MBrace Pacific Dance (NZ) Ltd.
Kristy also was driven to excel in her career, where she decided to pursue law school at the University of Auckland. Sharing her experience at University, Kristy highlights that she felt isolated at times, having no connections and going into university a little older than many students who have just come out of college.
“It was hard and finding my way was a challenge at times”, says Kristy.
The Pacific Islands Law Students Association leveraged that, providing assistance and facilitating networking with other students.
After graduating, Kristy spent 10 years working as a family lawyer in Auckland with Brookfields Lawyers, Denham Bramwell Lawyers, Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) and Swayne Macdonald Lawyers. Kristy shares that she decided to venture out on her own, with the desire to steer her own career and to build something for herself.
“I outgrew being an employee and wanted to challenge myself”, she shares. “I also want to show my children that anything is possible, that if I can do this, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
Kristy is committed to serving pacific families and communities, in particular families and/or individuals who are in difficult situations or need help and protection. Kristy is passionate about social justice and using her profession to achieve positive outcomes for pacific communities.
When asked about her future aspirations, Kristy reveals that she hopes to partner with other lawyers to perhaps start a firm, as well as provide mentoring and guidance for upcoming pacific lawyers.
But running a law practice is not as glamorous as it may seem. When asked about the challenges of running her own practice and being a start-up business, Kristy highlights that it is definitely daunting at the outset, “You quickly learn that you’re not only providing legal services, I also have to be my own secretary, I.T support person, financial planner and more. You have to do the work in order to generate your desired income. But this is what I expected, and I’m prepared for the challenge.”
The Family Law Specialist is inspired by her children, her community and being a pacific woman.
“I believe in achieving excellence and setting high standards. With that mindset, I’m inspired to help my community the best way I can, because they, the children, are our future.”
Her advice to young entrepreneurs or upcoming lawyers is that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. Knowledge is power and setting goals and working towards them persistently makes the difference.
Kristy Morgan Barrister is located at the Pacific Business Hub. “When I first saw this place, I instantly fell in love with the décor and set up. It felt very Pacific and professional at the same time, a perfect blend of the two worlds.”
Kristy shares that the environment at the hub is supportive, where everyone celebrates each other’s successes and pushes each other to reach their own goals and aspiration. This is a change from the corporate environment in her line of work, where it can get competitive. “The Pacific Business Hub is empowering and uplifting. People genuinely want to see you succeed and that’s the best kind of place to start your business”, says Kristy.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub
Written by Tupe Crawley
SAMOAN OWNED - JASON VENU, EXPERIENCED INSURANCE INDEPENDENT ADVISOR
Jason Venu ironically started his journey in the insurance industry because of debt.
“When I started university, I made the mistake of getting myself more than one credit-card” he laughs. “Six months down the line and the bills started piling.” To pay off his debt, Jason left university for a call centre role at AA insurance.
Today, he runs his own insurance agency, offering and helping arrange insurance policies in Life, Health, House, Car, Contents and Commercial. Born in Wellington and raised in Auckland, Jason is of Samoan descent. His father is from the village of Faleula while his mother is from Levi Saleimoa. Married and a father of two, Jason Venu is a proud family man.
After nine years with AA Insurance, Jason left his role as a Motor Claims Customer Manager. He had earned and moved up key positions with good guidance in the company from his managers and CEO. He then moved to PIC Brokers as a Domestic Broker where he formed strong relationships with managers and brokers that he still has to this day. Jason is grateful for PIC who have supported him on his mission to reach the uninsured as well as helping to educate and protect more families.
By 2018, Jason decided to branch out on his own. While he is grateful for his time at PIC, Jason says that he wanted to explore new opportunities that would better align his career goals to his personal goals. “I realised that I needed to prioritise time with my family, especially my son at the time.”
Looking back, he acknowledges the support of his family, “My dad covered our mortgage for the first month so I could get things started.” He reveals that it’s challenging starting your own business, but having a strong support system does make things easier. Jason set up office at the Pacific Business Hub in July 2019.
Venturing on his own has surely given Jason more than just quality time with his now two sons. Jason shares that it has also given him opportunities to contribute and give back to the community. With thirteen years’ experience in the reputable corporate ranks of the insurance industry, Jason describes his new venture as enabling him to bring reputable insurance providers to Pacific people in New Zealand.
He has brought in insurers like Partners Life, Fidelity, One Path and more to connect with businesses at the hub. He admits of rarely dealing with Pacific people in corporate insurance space, realising now the need for inclusion of pacific islanders and vice versa. “You don’t know until you’re in it. Being here now, it’s a need I feel is necessary and crucial”.
Additionally, he adds that Pacific communities and businesses deserve quality insurers. “We want to elevate them to the best”, he says. Jason believes that many clients feel intimidated by and not worthy of higher tiered insurance companies, highlighting the need for better information and education about insurance for our people.
Some key initiatives have already been established, such as financial literacy programs for Pacific and Maori students and school scholarships. Jason is also partnering with other businesses to execute these programs.
When asked about what it means to be Pacific owned, Jason mentions that it’s something he is proud of. “What makes it worthwhile is when your parents are really proud of you, especially helping pacific people and communities.”
Looking ahead, Jason is excited about the future. “We have bigger goals in the New Year and want to expand our agency. At the moment, our main target is the uninsured. We hope to leverage that through our community programs and reaching out to our people.” In addition, he highlights that it has taken a long time and hard work to earn the trust of his clients, especially pacific people. “We don’t sell to our clients, we educate and earn them. We make sure our people are taken care of, and we hope they see that we genuinely want to help.”
Jason’s advice to other young entrepreneurs is to speak to the right people. “If you speak to the right people, they will get you connected and will put you in the right direction.” He encourages that the Pacific Business Hub is a great place to start. “Laura is one of those people”, he says. Jason reassures that in starting your business, you will go far if you take away fear and doubt.
An advocate for the Pacific Business Hub, Jason reflects that Laura really encouraged him to get his business started. He has also joined the Samoa Business Network, seeing that there was an active support for businesses at the hub. Jason promotes that the Pacific Business Hub is a practical learning and thriving environment for pacific businesses.
Published by The Pacific Business Hub
Authored by Tupe Crawley
NIUEAN OWNED & FIRST PACIFIC ISP (INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER) IN NZ
With over twenty years’ experience running his ISP company in Niue, Emani Lui took a leap of faith in 2015 when he set up MakaNet. MakaNet is currently the first and only pacific-owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) company in New Zealand.
Emani Lui, who is the founder of MakaNet was born and raised in Niue and is from the village of Alofi. He travelled to New Zealand to complete his studies in Computer Studies at UNITEC and was later employed in the information systems sector of the Government of Niue.
In 1999, Emani established his first ISP Company Kaniu, which still operates today. Kaniu helped to deliver and improve internet services across Niue, from dial-up to wireless and now via satellite.
Emani recalls that when Kaniu was first set up, the internet was transitioning from just sending emails to online browsing and the like. “Our company helped to facilitate the internet during crucial periods of servicing on the island.”
He shares that his vision for Kaniu is to contribute to the development in Niue and to give back to the community. “Seeing how the internet has transformed people’s lives over the years has been rewarding for me and that’s why I’m passionate about what I do.”
But divine intervention led Emani to New Zealand at the end of 2014. “I stayed longer than expected. After nine months, I was still here. So, I decided to look into New Zealand’s ISP industry”, says Emani.
He discovered that similar to Niue, many parts of remote New Zealand still had limited access to reliable and fast internet. Emani saw the opportunity to provide internet services for those communities.
But setting up wasn’t easy for the entrepreneur who says it took many months of research, consulting and building his networks in the industry.
“Starting a business is not easy, especially outside of your home or your comfort zone”, says Emani. “It can also be a lonely journey. When things don’t go as planned, you have to believe in God, yourself and your vision. Never lose faith.”
By 2017, Emani had teamed up with several Kiwis and co-founded a new satellite broadband service, targeting New Zealand’s rural areas. The start-up company became one of three satellite broadband companies alongside Farmside and Wireless Nation, disrupting the industry by becoming the first to offer unlimited data via satellite.
Emani remembers journeying to the more remote areas of New Zealand where he installed satellite dishes for his clients.
“I would spend 3-4 days away from home, it was tough and lonely at times.” But his travels allowed him to better understand the industry and the different parts of New Zealand’s internet services.
After months on the road, Emani was curious whether there was a pacific-owned ISP in New Zealand. “I approached Laura to find out”, he says. Coincidentally, when Emani had met with Laura, who is the founder of The Pacific Business Hub (PBH), she had been planning to switch internet providers.“ She shared the issues she was facing with her existing provider.
So, I told her that I could do her internet and phone for the hub”, says Emani. In July 2019, MakaNet secured The Pacific Business Hub as their first customer.
MakaNet have now extended from broadband via satellite to fibre broadband, allowing them to penetrate into urban areas and making them the first pacific-owned ISP in New Zealand.
Emani shares that venturing into the urban markets has helped to grow his business. “We are now able to cater our services for our pacific communities and pacific businesses through our fibre network service”, he says.
In addition, Makanet’s telecommunications solutions service aims to empower consumers to make informed choices about their internet plans.
“At the end of the day, we are here to help people receive the best value for their money – even if it means that another provider may have a better suited product that meet the needs and means of our clients”, says Emani.
When asked about the future, MakaNet strives to become one of the top ISP companies out of existing ISPs in New Zealand. Emani believes that with God, anything is possible. As he reflects on his journey of having to overcome many challenges, he says that above everything, the biggest challenge is having the courage to just do it.
“We all fear failure, but we have to activate our faith and put our trust in God.” Emani adds that limited sources of funding and generating capital at the outset are the inevitable challenges of being a start-up company. “You will never have enough finances or resources, but you must have a plan of action – your business plan and how you execute and revise it is necessary.”
Emani advises other entrepreneurs to stay grounded and humble. He also encourages to seek wise and sound counsel and to surround yourself with the right people. When asked about what it means to be pacific owned, Emani says that MakaNet is a calling from God to serve his pacific people.
Today, MakaNet operates from their office located at the Pacific Business Hub. As Emani shares, “Our customers have grown since we linked up with the hub, most of them have come to us through our networks here.”
The ISP entrepreneur shares that the hub enables collaboration, sharing, mentoring and networking amongst pacific businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Working with them every day, side by side inspires me and my team. We all share the same vision for our pacific people and strive towards creating opportunities for them and our communities.”
The team behind MakaNet is Emani Lui (Managing Director), Nia Pearson (Project Director) and Joseph Sionetuato (Technical Manager).
A word from the Founder & Chief Executive of The Pacific Business Hub & the Publisher of The Pacific Business Journal, Laura Keil-Hall.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce The Pacific Business Journal. An initiative 'dedicated' to showcasing and highlighting Pacific stories of Pacific peoples in business.
To start off with, we will be producing articles with the businesses based and affiliated with the Hub first. We already have a database of businesses that we have been working with so they will come next and we will continue to scope and build relationships with other businesses who are not yet within our reach. It is our hope to go around NZ first and then going globally.
We already have a team working on articles here. It is with great gratitude I introduce, Tupe Crawley and Melania Wulf.
Tupe is currently studying International Business at the University of Auckland. Her experience and background is in policy but is also an aspiring entrepreneur. More recently she is finding her niche in writing and has been doing some work with one of our In-Hub businesses who recommended her to us.
Melania known as Mel recently became a stay at home mom. She is married with 3 beautiful children. A couple of months ago, she approached us about starting a business to pursue her passion in writing and communications. It was very timely she came to see us because we hired her on the spot to give her the opportunity to do what she is passionate about. Mel will be operating under her newly established business name 'Wulf Publishing'.
Over the past year (2019), I have been scoping out some of the writers overseas to be able to help us with this work. During my visit to Melbourne I got to meet some potential people to help us. It is also during this trip, I got talking with a former Editor in Chief of her own magazine SUGA, Cecilia Sagote. Cecilia is a full time working solo mom of one and runs a publishing business on the side called 'Seki Media'.
I welcome Cecilia onboard as part of our team on this project. She will be overseeing some of the work and also be providing insights and support in publishing a magazine or other print media for The Pacific Business Journal.
If you would like to be a part of this initiative and contribute as a writer, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on 021659072. If you would like to sponsor any of our articles or advertise on our platform, please don't hesitate to contact me as well.
It is our intention that by reading about our Pacific peoples in business will help inspire, motivate and invigorate those aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to take the leap and make their dreams a reality. It is also our hope that it will spark something in you to take that step!
Before signing off, I want to acknowledge the support of the U.S. Embassy, NZ. During my visit to Fiji on one of their programmes in 2019 I got the opportunity to pitch this idea to them and was able to secure a small funding to start this up.
The team and I hope you will enjoy reading our stories. With everything we do, we welcome constructive feedback, good or not so good. This gives us the opportunity to improve our work and our services.
Enjoy & Happy Reading!
Soifua ma ia manuia,