Pacific stories inspire in lead up to NRL Pacific Test

The synergies between sport and business is vast the weekend’s NRL Pacific Test has provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate Pacific success not only on the sports field, but also in business at the Pacific Influencers dinner.

Hosted by the Pacific Business Sports Entrepreneurs (PBSE) in partnership with Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia and the NRL Pacific Test, over 100 people from across Australia’s Pacific business community including sporting stars and advocates of Pacific people celebrated Pacific success at a dinner held at the Park Royal in Sydney, Australia. 

A business panel delved into the realities of forging a path in business as a Pacific person. A lesson taught by her father “You write your own story” helped Samoa Australian Tiana Epati, President, New Zealand Law Society navigate her way through unconscious bias to become the first Pacific and only the fourth women to be elected President in the Law Society’s 150 year history.

“When external stuff happens there’s a story that you can be told about yourself about being alone, about not being good enough about being in certain places such as the New Zealand Law Society. My dad taught me early on is that ‘you write your own story’. You have to watch the creeping in of external influences that say your too inexperienced, your too different. I reject that outright. Every day I say - I write my own story, every day I affirm that I can do anything I want too, as long as I’m prepared to work for it and as long as I’m prepared to take the hits.”

Tiana was joined by Bridget Foliaki-Davis, Celebrity Chef, Lemauga Hobart Vaai, CEO, Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Sandhya Dusk Devi Nand, Director, Dusk Devi Media on a business panel moderated by Dr Marion Muliaumaseali’i.

A sports panel with Samoa NRL stars Anthony Milford and Martin Taupau and Samoa Australian Olympian boxer Jai Opetaia provided insights into game day preparations, sacrifices made and what drives them to be at the top of their sporting professions. “Everyone can train, everyone can throw a punch, it’s training your mindset for that specific day, that’s the hard thing and that’s what makes the difference” said Jai Opetaia.

Caleb Jarvis, Trade & Investment Commissioner, PTI Australia, said the parallels between sport and business is great and the NRL Pacific Test provided a regional opportunity to bring together Pacific businesses and leaders to network and celebrate Pacific success not only on the sports field, but also in business.

“Events like the Pacific Influencers Dinner are important to bring visibility to Pacific success in business, and provide an opportunity to build and strengthen networks. Pacific people on the sports field and in business bring with them unique qualities and heart, rooted in their connections to their family, culture and faith.”  

Bernard Tuaimau, Co-founder & Co-chair, PBSE, said the dinner had showcased the power of coming together as a Pacific Community.

“There is real power in being part of a community. PBSE began as an online community with the intention of bringing together Pacific business people in Australia to inspire, support and network.

“It’s humbling to see so many exceptional and successful people from the Pacific come together. We’ve heard from some amazing and inspiring speakers tonight in both business and sport, the dinner provides a vital space where we can share our stories, build and strengthen our networks. It’s my hope that Pacific success in business is the norm not the exception like it is now. The Pacific Influencers dinner is small drop in the ocean to inspire the ripple effect of change.”