Written by Nora Swann, Fashion Stylist, Director, Mentor from Dressed in Confidence
As Retreat Four – Va Tagata (The Realm of the Interpersonal — Politics, Power and Relationships) approached I had mixed emotions on what to expect. Firstly, although I was going away from home I felt I was still there because it was in my hometown of South Auckland, so the familiar surroundings created a sense of routine for me towards the upcoming trip.
Second of all, I was chosen to host Louise Marra on behalf of Manava Lua and as an introvert, I knew I did not speak as eloquently as my peers, so I mulled on it up until I had to speak. So, I was feeling quite unsettled and challenged yet comfortable as I had become accustomed to these types of scenarios. In the end and as expected it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined.
And thirdly, as a creative entrepreneur I was looking forward to the overall theme of retreat four — Va Tagata — as business is all about people and relationships and there were a number of amazing guest speakers from a range of professions coming to share their stories with us.
Vui Mark Gosche’s speech stood out for me especially when he mentioned the importance of Pasifika ‘getting a seat at the table’. As a freelance fashion stylist who also works in social enterprise I have been very fortunate with the blessings that have helped my small business grow. I’m that lady that looks ‘extra’ amongst a sea of neutrals, looking awkward in the eyes of others but feeling comfortable in her own skin. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a voice for Pacific fashion and will continue to push for the fashion industry that I am passionate about.
On day three we were asked questions that made you really think about who you are in different settings. The realisation of the importance of the movement I stand for suddenly dawned on me. I never really saw it as anything significant as I see myself as a person who is chasing a dream, who constantly comes up against hurdles, finds a solution, celebrates the win (whether it be a project or growth in self-development) and soldiers on.
As an entrepreneur who is living that 24/7 lifestyle with a passion, the timing of the Mana Moana schedule has always been impeccable as it allows me to take a break from the hustle and be surrounded by like-minded Pasifika people.
I have learnt so much thus far from the Mana Moana journey. It has pushed me to do things I have never done before. It has helped me form a stronger love for Pasifika and it has forced me to go to places internally, that I preferred to keep locked away not only from the outside world but from myself and I have found great value in all these teachings.
I appreciate how the Mana Moana Experience has been able to create a learning environment that identifies Pasifika characteristics as strengths, understands the psyche of Pasifika people and is working towards fostering Pasifika people – this has been the ultimate standout for me personally.
I left Retreat Four on a high, feeling empowered and re-energised, ready to take on the world once again thanks to the Mana Moana aiga.