Inspirational woman works to inspire women
Reina Vaai (pictured), a South Auckland-based criminal lawyer and reporter for Tagata Pasifika, is a woman of many talents.
Of Samoan descent, Reina has a passion for storytelling and being creative.
“Even when I was at law school, I was always interested in how I could potentially merge my two interests,” Reina says.
Then in 2013, she successfully applied for the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards, seeing it as an opportunity to try something new.
“Even though the award I applied for was technology-focused and the person that received it before me was an electrical engineer, I had an idea I wanted to share.
“I knew that I didn't really fit the typical requirements for the award because I came from a completely different profession, but I'm glad they took a chance on me.”
Reina was awarded the Vodafone Foundation's Mobiles for Good Award, which she used to set up a blog, where she could celebrate and share inspiring stories about empowering Pacific women.
“I set up my blog while I was in my first year of working as a defence lawyer and I found that I really enjoyed walking in both the legal and media world,” Reina says.
Through her blog, Reina met one of the Tagata Pasifika producers, Ngaire Fuata.
“I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to work there as a reporter.
“Tagata Pasifika was a show that I loved growing up because even from a young age, it taught me that our stories and our voices are valuable.”
Life has changed in many ways for Reina since receiving her award including finding a job she loves doing.
“When I was going through university, I felt really confused about which direction to take (law or media).
“But this award pretty much paved the way for my career as a journalist and I'll always be grateful for that.”
Her roles as a defence lawyer and reporter have some things in common, Reina adds.
In both roles, I am an advocate for Pacific people, and raise awareness about the issues the Pacific community face.
“That’s something I am very grateful to be able to do,” she says.
The Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards, facilitated by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, recognise excellence and outstanding achievement by Pacific youth in New Zealand.
They are geared towards giving Pacific youth the opportunity to boost their future potential even higher.
On March 28, the 2018 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards ceremony will be staged, and the recipients announced.
Visit MPP for more information.