HS Interview: Chesta Fa’otusia

Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Chesta Fa’otusia, but my family and friends call me Ches. I’m 25 years old and I am a proud Tongan woman; I also have German and Fijian ancestry. I come from the villages of Ha’ateiho, Kolomotu’a, Mu’a and Lavengatonga in Tongatapu, as well as Tungua and Fakakai on Ha’apai. I take great pride in knowing where I come from & I have invested much of my young adult life to learning as much as I possibly can about the history of my people. I was born in Tonga, but Auckland has always been my home away from home. I spent my childhood with my late grandparents on the
island, until I moved permanently to New Zealand when I was 12 years old.

When we settled in New Zealand, we lived in Glen Innes. G.I. is on the east side of Auckland, and it’s where I met some of my most genuine, and loyal friends. I studied at Tamaki College for my first 3 years, and I went on to spend the rest of my senior high school years at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School. Education has always meant a lot to me; I love learning & I have always desired to be knowledgeable!

When my mum moved us to this country, she supported my siblings and I through school on her own. We struggled, a lot, but my families dream for us was always rooted in faith and good education. This motivated me and continues to keep me grounded. I am fortunate to have gone on to study law, politics and art history at university – I now have a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Auckland.

It took me almost 7 years to achieve, it was not easy, but I did it – thanks to some awesome friends, and generations of faithful leaders before me. My dad always told us “education is the best investment you can make for yourself; no one can take away from you what is in your mind, and heart”. I’m happiest most about making my parents proud, and the mission to be a good human is something only God will judge.

What do you do for work/study each day?
I’m currently a law graduate in government and I finish my studies for the bar in a few days. I’m looking forward to admission, with everything going on in the world right now, it’s just further motivation to use my education for the greater good. I have always had a good outlook on law as a profession, as my dad was a lawyer himself – he was the main reason I chose to pursue law.

However, when I entered law school, I found it wasn’t enough to be inspired by someone and that to finish the race – you really need to look within yourself and find your own motivations. To that, mine was to help my family, my community and my country.

If you weren’t working in this area what would you do?
If it wasn’t law and policy, I would probably be pursuing something creative. My grandmother was a seamstress, and she taught my mother to sew and now my mum’s a seamstress too. When I was a teenager, I learned to sew from my mum and so it has become a generational art. However, I chose to become a lawyer instead and nonetheless, I don’t believe it’s too late to pursue my other interests – it’s never to late to expand yourself!

How do you take care of yourself during these unprecedented times?
One of the ways I take care of myself is I disconnect, to reconnect. What this means to me is being able to step away from social media, my work and obligations to just breathe. It is so important to breathe. When I am offline and disconnected, I reconnect with what is in front of me in the now – I read, I watch a good movie, I meditate, I write, and I spend time with my loved ones (who are amazing people).

On every other day I spend a lot of my time online keeping up to date with what is happening in the world, but sometimes it can get too much. I’m not saying connectivity is a bad thing but encouraging people to be mindful about the information you’re digesting, but even more-so with how it can affect your mental health and wellbeing. Life is so precious, and it is so short; this is the inevitable truth – what you have control of is how you spend your time here on earth, make it count by loving more, making peace, and being kind.

What is a valuable lesson learned recently?
The most valuable lesson I have learned recently is to listen. I am a big believer in using your voice and speaking up about what matters, but sometimes we have to stop, listen and look out for our brothers & sisters who are suffering and be prepared to step back to let them stand up.

At times, we have to be the cheerleaders or the supporters, the ones
to lift someone else who needs us – it doesn’t make us less and it doesn’t diminish our contribution to the causes we care about, if anything it is the first sign that we are here to understand each other, and we need more of this in our world today. When you have listened, when you have understood, then you will be prepared for the marathon.

Quick Fire
Favourite book?
A recent favourite is Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Best way to unwind? A cheap wine and RuPaul’s Drag Race replayed

What is a 10/10 series you’re watching? I don’t watch a lot of new series so if anything, can someone recommend me something!

Honest coffee order? Large soy flat white

Sweet or savoury? Sweet!

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