My parents migrated from Samoa in the 1970s. During this period Pacific Peoples flooded into New Zealand to help the shortage of blue collared workers and to grow the economy. As new migrants they faced new challenges and a different culture, adapting in learning English and the New Zealand way of life.
My Mother Ioana was born in raised in the village of Faleasiu in Samoa. She helped her Father Tumaua Filipo Fonoti with the farm in producing crops, raising and taking care of the animals and vegetation for the markets and serving the village. She raised her five children alongside my Father Reverend Fogatia Lavea Levi and taught Samoan culture, sold her food products at markets and served the local Church as well as sitting on boards in Dunedin and Auckland.
My Father is from Savai'i villages Safotu, Papasataua and Upolu Satalo Falealili district. He worked in the New Zealand Railways industry for fourteen years and transitioned into working in Auckland's land and titles office leading a team in the 1990s. At the same time he pursued a higher calling and went through the process of being accepted into University studies, first through St Johns Auckland. In his 40s he continued onto Knox theological hall in Dunedin and was ordained as a New Zealand Presbyterian Minister completing his Theology Degree and Post Graduate qualifications.
My parents sacrifices and hard work gave myself and my siblings greater opportunities in education and career pathways. Following the footsteps of my Father both I and my sister Agnes completed our Degrees through the University of Otago. Older brother Tupa’i Lelei Lonny completed his Masters Degree studies in Auckland University and my younger brother Levi completed his Media Design School qualifications. Nelson Mandela's words ring true that "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." Like my Father our world changed for the better with my parents faith and sacrifices.