“I owe everything to my God, my family, biological and spiritual parents, and every beautiful soul who has entered my life and helped me grow and embrace all that I am and more. Most definitely just the beginning of my journey and I can’t wait to see where it goes.” Talanoa Intern Mary Harm has a meaningful talanoa with Abigail Vienna Latu-Meafou. They talk about her love for netball, family, faith and her fiery determination to succeed, and one day be an inspiration to many other young Pacific people, just like her.
Tell us about yourself – who are you? Where are you from? What are you passionate about?
My name is Abigail. I’m 19 years old and the second eldest of five. I’m passionate about helping people and being a voice for them, and about the voices who are barely heard, but deserve to be. I’m passionate about the equality of women in all cultures, breaking down stereotypes, going beyond cultural boundaries and empowering our (Pacific) people.
I’m passionate about the sky, the ocean, the grass – anything to do with mother nature. I’m passionate about food – all sorts of food. I’m passionate for Jesus Christ and praising his name across the oceans. I’m passionate about performing arts, visual arts, musical arts, art – life is art. Netball and using netball as a platform to showcase not just my culture, but my faith. What am I not passionate about is the real question!
What’s a typical day in the life of you like?
There is no such thing as a typical day – it’s productive chaos! Lots of appointments (physio, medical, diet, consultation), training (day and night, 5-6 times a week in season), running errands for the family, cleaning the house (kitchen and main area of house should be clean before I leave the house and laundry), university classes, and eating in-between and during. When I’m not doing something, I’ still doing something – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What have been the most challenging experiences in your journey so far? And what were the most rewarding lessons?
Trying to discover myself, my roots and my true identity in a world that either disregarded it or did not like it. I’ve got big curly hair and naturally bigger than most of the netball players I play with. I’m surrounded by the expectation of what a netballer should look like and even how they should play. I always saw my unorthodox play and different features as a negative but I’ve recently realised that if I’m going to play netball, I’m going to do it as me and no one else.
Staying true to me in the face of hardship and personal dilemmas has been the most challenging experience. Two different worlds colliding and I’m trying to juggle both – #ImAlwaysOverwhelmed. The rewards are never ending – fellowship with new people, travelling, making life-long friends, realizing how blessed and loved I’m and the never ending support of my family. The opportunity to play the sport that I love and gaining new experiences and adding more to “me” along the way.
What are the biggest misconceptions in your line of work? How do you feel we can address them?
I’m quite honest (sometimes too honest) with who I’m and what I stand for. What you see is what you get. I’ve been blessed to have people who see the potential and invest in me, even though they knew little about me. One person who I owe a lot of where I am to, is my netball coach, Kelly Weaver, from back when I was 13. She really pushed my career in netball. The passion and knowledge she has for the game is beautiful, and I’m extremely lucky to have crossed paths with her and her beautiful family.
There aren’t many misconceptions about me other than the stereotypes people have of me and my culture, but to an extent they’re (somewhat true) and the only way we can address them is to prove them wrong. I’m all about ‘actions speak louder than words’.
When you look back at your life in 20 years time, what do you hope to be most proud of?
That I helped someone. Also where I got to and what I’ve achieved, whether I do or don’t make it sucessfully. I don’t know if I will make it to the top, or how long I will play netball for, but obviously I will try my best. If I were to look back and there is another girl who is also a Pacific Islander and says, ‘I saw Abi and how she made it,’ that would be the most rewarding thing.
What advice do you have for young Pacific people, especially for those who might be thinking of pursuing a similar pathway?
Psalm 31:4. Delight in the lord and he will give you your heart desires. Be humble, block out all the haters and do you! Don’t fall into the thought process that ‘getting money’ is enough.
Live. Do something you’re passionate about. You have a voice, use it. If it’s to your parents? Use it with the utmost respect and listen to their point of views to, but yours is just as valid. Leave a legacy. Don’t be content with where you are in life with anything. Strive to be more, become more. Work hard and the good things will come.
Love your parents and family! They are the only ones that will get you anywhere. Pray! God is the door man at every door! Make him the centre of it all and you cannot go wrong.
Know your strengths, and exercise them. Know your weakness’ and be openhearted to work on them. Surround yourself with people who tell you ‘Go, you can, gettem!’, if not? Tell em to swerve right now. Be healthy. Feed your soul like how you feed your body. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, meditate. Give back to the community to helped you in the process.
We’d like to thank Abigail for sharing her story and we can’t wait to see where she will go. Photography credits: Burton Photography