Pacific | Technology

A tech company that started with a meet-up at KFC

Fibre Fale aims to achieve equal representation of Pacific people within the tech industry in Aotearoa by 2042.

Less than 3% of Pacific people are represented in the technology industry in Aotearoa but a determined collective is striving to change that.

Fibre Fale, a grassroots organisation that emerged from an unlikely place, is now a driving force behind the effort to diversify the industry.

Co-founder Julia Arnott-Neenee shared the story of how it all began with her good friend Nu’uali’i Eteroa Lafaele.

It began with a meet-up at KFC: “A thigh combination with extra seasoning on the fries, yes! That was the first time where we actually sat down. I guess we shared our experiences on what it feels like to work in technology as Pacific women.

“The core of that is we just started crying, and a lot of that was just from suppressing, navigating, and trying to negotiate all these spaces from often where you’re not often seeing people that look like you.”

Both co-founders are dedicated to reshaping the perception that Pacific people are limited to labour-intensive jobs.

“Examples of that are our podcast series called Tech Voyagers, which is out at the moment, by the way, season two.

“We do Fibre Fonos where we bring together Pacific professionals to kind of network, draw fellowship, draw inspiration, and draw knowledge from one another.”

Their website has a unique tool called Cybernesia, which draws in Pacific innovators to talk freely online about their experiences for the public to sign up and view.

Fibre Fale aims to achieve equal representation of Pacific people in the tech industry in Aotearoa by 2042 through a range of innovative programmes.

One participant of the Tautai Tech Leadership Camp, Leigh Lefale, shared her profound experience during the three-day camp, saying,

“The first thing that you see when you walk in is a kava ceremony, and that was amazing because again where will you ever get exposed to that?

We talked about challenges, as well as past traumas and triumphs, and how we’ve navigated through the industry.”

Both wāhine co-founders are not only starters of their own companies but also leaders within their Pacific communities.

Nu’uali’i recently appeared in the ‘Asia Honoree Forbes 30 under 30′ for her work in refurbishing laptops to provide to Aotearoa’s Pacific Island youth who can’t afford the devices.

Arnott-Neenee, a trailblazer in her own right, is the first Pacific person to be appointed to the Auckland University Council. Arnott-Neenee has Samoan and Chinese heritage.

“You recognise that you’re only one person. You can only ever do the best to advocate for an entire community of sub-communities of sub-niches with all sorts of identities and of course island nations and you’re just one person.

I’m deeply honoured and I don’t shy away from recognizing the huge responsibility that it comes with as well.”

Fibre Fale’s vision extends beyond its current endeavours, with plans to expand its membership and become a 24-hour service for Pacific individuals in the technology sector.

For more information on Fibre Fale check out this website.