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Thrive Pasifika Speakers – 15 July 2004

Thrive Pasifika Speakers – 15 July 2004 Auckland Town Hall

NAT LEES Nathaniel Lees has received much acclaim as one of New Zealand’s most respected actors and theatre directors. During his 20 year career in the entertainment industry he has won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best Director and Best Supporting Actor and has received awards for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Production in the Wellington Theatre Awards.

Nathaniel has been noticed by international producers and directors and features as Captain Mifune in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ and as Ugluk in “The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers’.

He played many roles in ‘Xena’ and ‘Hercules’ and was a member of the core cast of ‘Young Hercules’. Nathaniel has made many television appearances in very successful New Zealand dramas and for overseas companies such as the BBC.

ISAAC TUHEGA Isaac Tuhega established the New Lynn Building Centre Ltd in 1985. The former employee of Fletchers Timber and Carter Holt had always dreamed of establishing his own building supply business.

In 1994 he joined a building suppliers group called ITM or Independent Timber Merchants to increase his business’s profile and purchasing power parity. Three years later the business reached one of the pinnacles of its sales. This growth was adversely affected though when the area he was operating in was rezoned from a commercial to residential area. Isaac immediately found himself isolated from other commercial vendors, and last December, he relocated the business to its current location in Portage Rd, New Lynn.

Isaac’s vision now is to expand his business and open two more stores before he retires. Isaac is a director of Habitat for Humanity and provides office accommodation for the Waitakere branch at his business premises. Last year his dedication and hard work paid off when he won the 2003 Pacific Business of the Year Award.

NEIL IEREMIA CEO/Artistic Director, Neil Ieremia studied contemporary dance at the Auckland Performing Arts School. In 1991, the final year of his diploma, he was invited to join the Douglas Wright Dance Company, performing in 'Gloria', 'A Far Cry', 'Forever', 'How on Earth' and 'Buried Venus'.

In the years to follow Neil worked with many other choreographers and in 1995 he founded Black Grace. As well as choreographing all of the company's full-length works and creating the concepts behind New Works and Urban Youth Movement,

Neil has received numerous choreographic commissions for other Arts Organisations including the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

DANNY LEAOSAVAII - DAWN RAID New Zealand Business Magazine says South Auckland’s Dawn Raid has been hailed by politicians and media alike as an example of an innovative young company helping youth in its area.

Dawn Raid began in 1996 when Danny Leaosavaii (aka Brotha D) met Andy Murnane (aka Y.D.N.A) at Manukau Polytechnic, where both were doing a business degree. One Samoan, the other Irish, but both sons of South Auckland and proud of it.

Together they saw a gap in the music field, where promising talent from South Auckland were being neglected by the music industry. They saw a niche and have helped South Auckland artists reach the top. Their diverse business involves T-shirts, music courses and of course top New Zealand musicians.

PAT LAM In January of this year, former Manu Samoa captain Pat Lam was named Auckland National Provincial Championships (NPC) rugby coach for the next two seasons.

The former Auckland and All Black loose forward was assistant coach with Scotland at last year’s World Cup. Lam played five seasons for the NPC team from 1990-1994 and captained Manu Samoa for five seasons as well as English clubs Northampton and Newcastle.

Lam was a leader in teams from a young age, captaining the New Zealand Colts and Schools, but his star shone with Manu Samoa and the English club scene. In 2000 he was named European Player of the Year when Northampton won the European Cup - still its only trophy in 130 years. Lam retired from playing in 2002.

MURRAY THOM - ENTREPENEUR Murray Thom left school at 15 with no qualifications. By the age of 23 he was Managing Director of CBS Records New Zealand, the youngest Managing Director of that group in the world. With a strong desire to be self-employed he left the corporate life to strike out on his own.

He won the government tender in 1987 to introduce personalised number plates in New Zealand. In 1997 he sold that company to return to his real passion - the music business. Oprah Winfrey named his most recent production, the 'Together' 10 CD Collection, her ‘Favourite Thing’ of the year. Murray was recently named as one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Decade.

ESTHER TOFILAU - PACIFIC ISLAND BODY BUILDING ASSOCIATION Esther Tofilau is the only Pacific Island woman body building judge in New Zealand. She founded the Pacific Island Body-Builders Association in 1997. She envisioned PIBBA as an organisation that would raise the level of self esteem and promote all Maori and Pacific Island Body-Builders within Aotearoa and abroad.

From humble beginnings and with community support, a Mr LeTanoa Body-Building Competition was held in 1997. This gave Esther the confidence to organise the 1st Pacific Island Body-Building Championship later that year. It was held in Manukau City with competitors from as far afield as Wellington.

Today, PIBBA runs an annual body-building show which attracts some of the top Maori and Pacific Island athletes in N.Z. The PIBBA Show is a great stepping stone for competitors as the show acts as a qualifier to the NZFBB National Championships.

LINDAH E - PACIFIC DESIGNER Lindah Lepou is an individual with both hands firmly in the fashion and music industries. She is an award winning fashion designer who has worked on international projects for Robert Labertta, Creative Director of “Sebastian Intl”, whose clients include Mick Jagger and Paula Abdul (USA).

Lindah has her own womens wear label, “denciumcompri” based in Auckland and is setting up her own website www.denciumcompri.com where people from around the world can gather to discuss a range of issues.

She has been offered a record deal with International producer, Alan Jannson (“How Bizarre”, Pauly Fuemana and “In the Neighbourhood”, Sisters Underground) to work on an album and has been travelling internationally with the “Pasifika Divas”.

JUDGE A'E'AU SEMI EPATI A’e’au Semi Epati, a prominent Samoan barrister, Pacific advocate, and High Chief from Falealupo, in Savai’i, was appointed District Court Judge at Manukau Court in 2002. He is the first Pacific person to be appointed to the District Court Bench in New Zealand.

Judge Epati has considerable legal experience, having served in the Attorney General's Office in Samoa before moving into private practice in 1977 in Samoa and then New Zealand. A former President of the Western Samoa Law Society, Judge Epati was appointed a Temporary Magistrate in Samoa for six months in 1986, and served as Attorney General of the Government of Niue in 1995 - 1996. He is fluent in Samoan, Tokelauan and Tuvaluan, and has an understanding of Niuean and Tongan.

LINDA VAGANA Linda played 61 tests with the Silver Ferns in a career that spanned more than 14 years. In 2002, she retired from playing international games and hung up her netball shoes. However, she has decided to help her homeland, Samoa, and will coach the U21 side that will compete in Florida in the world U21 games next year. Linda worked for AUT while studying and has now accepted a position as Manager with Books in Homes.

MIKE PERO Mike Pero won the Pacific Business Person of the Year Award in 2003. The Cook Island entrepreneur owned and managed one of NZ's largest mortgage broker business - Mike Pero Mortgages until earlier this year. Mike says having a strong brand - his face and personality - proved to be a strong force behind his company's advertising and promotional activities.

Mike Pero Mortgages Ltd began in 1990. Eight years later Mike franchised the organisation. Today there are more than 30 franchisees from Whangarei to Dunedin. Not bad for someone who left school at the age of sixteen. His earlier ventures included a Yamaha motorcycle dealership, life insurance sales and a brief career as an airline pilot.

In April 2004, Mike sold the majority of his stake in his mortgage broking business for $13.5 million. Last month he also agreed to take a 25 per cent stake in struggling regional airline Origin Pacific and he continued the aviation theme by taking a 25 per cent share in the flight simulator business.

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