Mālō e lelei.

Ko hoku hingoa’ ko Freya Schaumkel. Ko ’eku ha’u mei Vava’u, Tonga.

My father hails from Tonga, my mother hails from Germany, and I was born, raised and currently live in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Having grown up in two worlds, one being Pasifika and the other Pālangi, I’ve seen firsthand how these different cultures live with and relate to our environment. My ancestors who navigated Te Moana Nui a Kiwa understood their place in the world and their connection to the land and sea.

The Pacific Islands, my homeland, are on the front line of the climate crisis we face today, yet the dialogue is being dominated by those who do not understand the land and sea.

I want to honour those who paved the way for me, uphold their traditions and values, and see indigenous knowledge leading climate action and solutions. I want my descendants to experience the sand and lagoons of Vava’u for themselves, rather than hearing about them as distant memories.

I work for local government looking at climate change strategy and policy. My mahi focuses on the meaningful and authentic inclusion of rangatahi voices, particularly those of indigenous rangatahi, in decision-making.

In my role, I’m privileged to work with and learn from rangatahi Māori and Pasifika who are reconnecting with ancient knowledge, growing confidence in sharing their whakaaro and making change in their communities. Outside of mahi, I love hanging out with fāmili, particularly my three sisters who are my best friends. I’m involved in the music team at my local church and enjoy listening to live music. The ocean reinvigorates me so I spend as much time by the water as possible.