We caught up with hostess Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i to give us all the new new about her upcoming TV show, “Talanoa with Tupe” and her inspiration for this exciting platform that explores the lives and careers of Pasifika people who have succeeded in a diverse range of disciplines. Talanoa with Tupe debuts this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. via Pacific television platform Oriana TV.
Over 13 weeks, the show features in-depth interviews with Pasifika people excelling in entertainment, business, politics, medicine, law, architecture, education and many other domains.
Tupe herself, has many successful accomplishments under her belt. Solomon-Tanoa’i, a proud mother, wife, producer, Former Diplomat, and leader in the philanthropic sector continues to share her diverse talents by diving into new territory through serving her community, in a new way.
LP: What is the inspiration behind “Talanoa with Tupe” ?
Tupe: We wanted to shine a spotlight on the people in our Pasifika communities doing amazing things. We have only been in New Zealand since the 1950s, and in one generation we have so many examples of people excelling in various fields. Through our conversations with Pasifika leaders we talk about the factors that created an environment for success, both in the home and society at large.
The idea of showing multiple pathways was important to us as well. There is no one definition of success. Many of our guests reached the top of their field, others have been successful in balancing meaningful work with family life, or a day job with a side hustle. For some success means running the household so their spouse and children can be all they can be.
LP: Are you pursuing this current project full-time, are you still working on the side, full time?
Tupe: The show is my “side hustle” and passion project, commissioned by Oriana TV, that Poporazzi Productions is making in partnership with Umbrella Multimedia. Over the years of rubbing shoulders with creative people I’ve realised how many of them pour their own resources, time and energy into projects they really care about. That’s what this is for my husband, Esera and me. The show is our way of giving back to the community that has given us a sense of belonging.
Currently, I’m the Chief Philanthropic Officer of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin foundation. The foundation supports legal research, education and scholarship through effective philanthropy.
LP: What inspired you to pursue this passion?
Tupe: I’ve been a policy maker for most of my career and have only recently entered the creative sphere. In policy, there is a lot of focus on the negative statistics relating to Pasifika people, and that’s necessary so we know what parts of the system are not working well, and where we need to improve. However, because the public often only hear about the shocking stats the challenge is to make sure that doesn’t become a singular narrative. The negative stats need to be balanced out with the many stories of resilience and collective success.
LP: Did your professional background inspire “Talanoa with Tupe”?
Tupe: My professional role has meant that I’m more focussed on the parts of the system that are not serving New Zealanders well. Many of the projects we have funded at the Borrin Foundation have focused on areas where the law is not serving New Zealanders well – predominantly the criminal justice system and family law. The criminal justice system is an area where transformative change is needed. Among Western developed nations, New Zealand’s incarceration rate is second only to the United States. Maori and Pasifika are over-represented at every stage of the criminal justice system, and Maori women are the most incarcerated indigenous women in the world. Family law touches many aspects of New Zealanders’ lives, often when they are at their most vulnerable.
There is so much work that needs to be done to improve the lives of New Zealanders through the law. I’m blessed that I get to work alongside the talented individuals and organisations who are trying to bring about transformative change, and I’m inspired by the Borrin Family’s generous gift to New Zealand to support this work.
LP: What are your goals/ hopes for this project?
Tupe: We have 13 episodes in the first season, and we want this to be a show that families can watch together and hopefully spark talanoa in homes across the Pacific. We hope we will get a second season and will be able to travel around New Zealand to capture more stories, and the ultimate dream would be to have a week to week show. We can never have enough of these stories showcasing Pasifika success in all its many forms, the drivers and motivations unique to us, and the advantages we bring to the table from our cultural background.
Be sure to catch Tupe and support our fellow storytellers sharing the stories of our Pasifika communities across the pond and locally. We are excited for this new TV segment and for our sister Tupe to showcase her creative work for our communities to tune into AND to be completely inspired by! Congratulations to Tupe, her beautiful family and production company, Poporazzi Productions for such a great accomplishment for our communities.
**Poporazzi Productions created the webseries “Misadventures of a Pacific Professional” which was nominated for Best Show New Zealand Narrative at the 2019 NZ Web Fest, and has been nominated for Best International Drama at the 2020 Melbourne Web Fest.
Oriana TV is a New Zealand-based Pacific TV platform run by Umbrella Multimedia**