Hefa Tuita-- HYPE in Action...

[Hefa Tuita Jr. Reppin' HYPE]

I have received many emails inquiring about my process in choosing who would be part of the HYPE Photoshoot.

There was really only 3 simple criterias:

1) They needed to be from here in Utah (mainly for logistical reasons)
2) They had to be Pacific Islander
3) Their lives had to fully reflect the meaning behind the HYPE Movement

Many of these young people I had previously known and had worked with on various projects; some had been my students, others I have written about or have worked with in some type of capacity.

However, there was only one, who I actually never really formally met (well only once, but it was just in passing), but it was a conversation that I had with his father about a year ago, that fully convinced me that his son had to be part of this photoshoot.

[Hefa Tuita Jr.]

I am of course talking about Hefa Tuita Jr. the star dancer on Nickelodeon's new dance show, Dance On Sunset. He was also in High School Musical 2 and Unaccompanied Minors and has shared the stage with many amazing dance choreograpahers and superstars; singer Rihanna being one of them.

[Hefa Tuita Jr.]

However, it wasn't just his great resume of success that made me track him down for this photoshoot (I was almost borderline stalking by the time I finally was able to secure a date/time/location for the photoshoot... we literally confirmed everything between the hours of midnight to 3am...hahaha...yes, that's how much I wanted him to be part of this photoshoot)!!!

[Hefa Tuita Jr.]

In December 2007, I was organizing a Bone Marrow Registry Drive in our Pacific Islander Community, which was connected to a concert that featured various Pacific Islander music artists.

[Hefa Tuita Jr.]

At an informal dress rehearsal held a couple of days before the concert, Hefa Sr. (Hefa's father) had brought his sons to the University of Utah for a quick rehearsal. I had never heard of the Tuita boys, but was assured by everyone present that they were the real deal--talented, handsome, and most of all humble-- and they proved to be exactly that!

[Hefa Tuita Jr.]

Immediately after the dress rehearsal I met their father and we talked for a short while about our Tongan community and some of the things I was hoping to do in the community. I specifically remember him talking about how proud he was of his sons and how he had raised them with the two most important values in the Tongan culture--Respect and Service!!! He then said to me "my boys are very proud to be Tongan and I hope they do good things for our Tongan community"! Our conversation lasted for probably only ten minutes, but I knew then that this father had instilled in his sons not only a fierce love for their Tongan culture but also a sense of responsibilty in regards to the power of service!

[Hefa Tuita Jr. Reppin' his father's Firefighter Uniform]

When I decided that we would do a professional HYPE photoshoot, Hefa Jr.'s name was one of the first on the list because I knew he represented everything that the HYPE MOVEMENT is about, but mostly because of my brief conversation with his father about a year ago.

Unfortunately, his father passed away before we could actually do this photoshoot, but I hope that through the HYPE Movement, a new generation of Pacific Islanders will be able to actualize the yearnings of many of our grandparents and parents, who had always envisioned a future of endless possibilities for us!

Rest in Love Hefa Tuita Sr., even in your absence, you still continue to inspire us!

[Hefa Tuita Jr. in his father's Firefighter Uniform-- and the Legacy Lives On...]

[Tuita Boys Tribute to their father the late Hefa Tuita Sr.]

**Many thanks to Karley Tuita, Teresa Tuimaseve, Lavinia Taumoepeau, Abby Langi, our amazing photographer Naomi Masina --and of course Hefa Jr. and all others who were there for making this photoshoot possible...***

Monday, December 29, 2008


Poutua said...

Thanks for the inspiration!

Gary Riehle said...

My Name is Gary and I am Hefe Sr.'s Step Brother. I just got off the phone with our brother Soane, and he told me of Hefe Jr.'s success. I have been out of touch with them for a number of years though our sister tried to maintain contact. I heard of hefe Sr.'s passing months after it happened, but I am so glad I got to read this and hear of Hefe Jr.'s success. He has always been a star and I am glad to see him doing so well. I have loved the Polynesian Culture having grown up in Hawaii but it is the relationships with my tongan Famliy that I have come to love the most. Thank you for this post.

Brayden Kaae said...

Hefa and I used to be friends in elementary school. He was amazing back then and, obviously, still is! Good job Hefa! I'm proud!