Tongan coffee grower shines at Auckland Food Show

Alipate Mafile’o of Tonga’s Tupu’anga Coffee, is a man with a big heart and a shining smile.

Alipate Mafile’o and Emeline Afeaki at the Tupu’anga Coffee booth at The Auckland Food Show’s PTI Pacific Hub.

His early morning generosity in offering free Tupu’anga coffee to fellow exhibitors at the Auckland Food Show not only broke the ice, (with Auckland having one of its coldest winter nights) it was returned with interest.  The hundreds of coffee cups he gave away came back with fun, laughter and friendships.  And many samples from new friends at the other exhibitor stands.

Their fun attitude made Tupu’anga Coffee one of the most popular exhibitors at Pacific Trade Invest’s Pacific Hub. They were amongst nine businesses from five Pacific Islands who were part of PTI’s international village in The Hub.  Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga’s companies were selected from PTI’s Pacific Path to Market.  The programme assists exporters to better understand the New Zealand market.

Tupu’anGa Coffee, Kingdom of Tonga is a family business owned and operated by Emeline Afeaki and her husband Alipate Mafileo.  The coffee is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans grown on the islands of Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga.  The green beans were harvested from the Tupu’anga plantation and sourced from 5-6 coffee growing farms.  They use a commercial coffee bean roaster to roast the beans.  At the show, they promoted, coffee, cassava chips and coconut oil from a long-established Tongan community living in Lau, Fiji.

Tupu’anga Coffee and manioke chips were a hit at the show.

Show goers were very positive about the coffee and manioke chips.

Being at the Auckland Food Show as part of the Pacific Hub was huge for the company, he said.  Although they had been to the Auckland Food Show before he enjoyed being part of The Pacific Hub with other similar companies.

“I have fun, I enjoy the company and hearing their stories,” he said.

But it was also very important for them to represent the people of Tonga.

“We are restoring and redeeming our story,” he said. “We want to represent our people and tell our story,” he said.  It was important to tell why they were there at the show, about helping get more people into jobs, to find more opportunities and network.

For many years others had told Tonga’s vanilla story he said.  But it was important to redeem their own story and take it back for the Tongan people he said.

Mr and Mrs Mafileo are a great couple and complement one another as a strong team.

Mr Mafileo is an agriculturalist, the grower and farm manager of all aspects of Tupu’anga’s coffee production.   Emeline Afeaki-Mafileo is the founder of Affirming Works, a mentoring and educational programme working with young people based in South Auckland starting in 2001.  In 2015, she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 2013 awarded the Westpac Women of Influence Award for Community and Social Enterprise as well as the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award in 2006.

Mr Mafileo is responsible for supplying Tupu’anga Coffee and manioke chips to Auckland City’s Community Cafes at the Mangere Arts Centre and Mt Roskill.  The Community Cafes are social enterprises are run by Mr and Mrs Mafileo under the company name Affirming Works (AW).

For more information, please contact Joe Fuavao, PTI Trade Development Manager on joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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