The above Tongan proverb essentially explains my leadership journey.  


For as long as I can remember, I have always been called a leader. From an early age, I was told I had leadership qualities and was earmarked as a natural born leader but it was a title that I took upon myself with little thought or consideration. It just was.  It wasn’t something I really paid much attention to other than it just felt right to stand up, make decisions and take others on the journey with me. 


Throughout different periods in my life, I have been called to various leadership positions. I was the Head Girl at my College, a Youth Mayor in Hamilton and the National Leader of the New Zealand delegation that participated in the Ship for World Youth Programme in Japan. But things are changing.  As a woman who is of Tongan and Kiwi descent and born in New Zealand, a single parent of one child, a freelance media and communications practitioner, a student and an alumni of the 2015 Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme, I find myself for the first time analysing and assessing my leadership capabilities. 


I have been on a quest to find out what is leadership, what is Pacific leadership and how gender and culture affects leadership.  I specifically want to look at gender diversity amongst Tongan women leaders in New Zealand.  Women who are making a difference in some capacity because of their leadership or the difference they are making as leaders. 

Mu’omu’a puke fue

To go in front holding back the branches

                                                                    (Tongan Proverb)

Sandra Kailahi was born in New Zealand to a Tongan father and a Kiwi mother. She has been a journalist for over two decades and has worked in mainstream and Pasifika media e.g. Tagata Pasifika and Fair Go.  

'Alisi Tatafu (Left) & Sandra Kailahi (Right)