As a daughter of Moana Oceania, Emily is a descendant of the villages of Fua’amotu and Kanokupolu in Tonga. She was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau and grew up surrounded by the rich and diverse cultures of South Auckland, often contradicting the mainstream narrative of her home.
On a journey of self-discovery, at 16 she travelled to Tanzania, finding a passion for serving in the social justice sector. In 2015, Emily was selected as a World Vision NZ Youth Ambassador to travel to Malawi and champion the 40 Hour Famine across Aotearoa. The most rewarding part of this mahi was seeing the few Pasifika students in these leadership forum spaces realise their potential to unlock the multiple opportunities that were out there for them.
In her final year of studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Music at the University of Auckland, Emily travelled again with World Vision and The Spinoff to the Solomon Islands to gather stories about climate change and how the Pacific region was affected. This particularly hit home for her and, upon return, mobilised her community of young people to put on three events around the country, raising awareness about this pressing issue and educating her own Pacific community. This led to the establishment of the wāhine-led initiative, Mission To Zero, a movement that empowers young people to address and raise awareness about indigenous issues through creative arts and talanoa.
Emily now works as a Regional Advisor at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, hoping to ensure that the voices of Pacific people, especially Pasifika youth, are empowered and heard at both community and policy level. Aside from this, she is also singer/songwriter and musician, actively pursuing her own original music while supporting some of New Zealand’s greatest artists as a backing vocalist.