Samoan-born and South Auckland raised, Anapela Polataivao began acting at age eight. After graduating from Toi Whakaari she launched theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew in 2002, with Vela Manusaute; the two were prime movers behind musical The Factory, which morphed into a 2014 web series. Polataivao is also one half of comedy duo Pani and Pani; with Goretti Chadwick, she created and presents hit Māori TV reality show Games of Bros. Polataivao's CV also includes an award-winning lead role in short Night Shift, a nomination for series The Market, and work as an acting tutor at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts.

The performance of the lead actor is exceptional. Director Roger Donaldson, on Anapela Polataivao's performance in 2012 short film Night Shift
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One Thousand Ropes

2017, Actor - Film

Writer/director Tusi Tamasese won multiple awards for his first feature, Samoan drama The Orator - O Le Tulafale. This New Zealand-set follow-up involves a Samoan father whose daughter Ilisa (Shortland Street's Frankie Adams) returns home, pregnant and badly beaten. Uelese Petaia (star of Albert Wendt adaptation Sons for the Return Home) is the boxer turned baker, in a tale of family, redemption and revenge. One Thousand Ropes debuted in the Panorama section of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. The clip captures the recording of the movie's soundtrack in a Wellington chapel.

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Game of Bros

2016 - ongoing, Presenter - Television

Hosted and created by comedians Pani and Pani, this Māori Television reality show aimed to "sort the bro’s from the boys" by testing 12 Polynesian men on their ability to tackle traditional warrior skills. The popular bros-meets-The Bachelor series produced shirtless calendars and an award-winning 'Lover Boy vs Lavalava Boy' advertising campaign. As of 2017, two seasons had been made by Tiki Lounge Productions. In the second, ex-league player and Code host Wairangi Koopu joined as Games Master. Stuff reviewer Pattie Pegler praised the show’s self-deprecating approach.

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Game of Bros - First Episode

2016, Presenter, Creator - Television

Bros meets The Bachelor in this Māori Television reality show, billed as a "hunt for the ultimate Polynesian warrior". The contestants' muscles might look good, but do the personal trainers and dancers have their ancestors’ skills? This first episode tests the 12 usos in spear throwing, waka portage and hakamoa (Hawaiian wrestling). The show swapped po-faced reality TV conventions for Polynesian humour – dropped lavalavas and tattooed torsos are slathered with innuendo by hosts Pani and Pani (Goretti Chadwick and Anapela Polataivao) – and became a Māori TV hit. 

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The Factory - 01, Wassup?! (Episode One)

2013, As: Lily, Executive Producer, Original Writer - Web

Tigi Saumalu (Ben Taufua) has worked at an Auckland textile factory for so many years, he is presented with a useless plastic key by his palangi boss to mark the occasion. But Tigi is more excited about getting his grandchildren to represent the factory in an upcoming talent contest. That way he can “pass on the old ways” — and the old Samoan songs — to them. Only the Saumalu children are busy freestyling to a very different sound... Web series The Factory began as a hit stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre and music group Kila Kokonut Krew.

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The Factory - 02, Gafa (Episode Two)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

Web series The Factory follows a South Auckland family as they prepare to conquer a local talent quest. In episode two the Saumalus get their first worried indication of their grandfather’s musical plans for them, after a summons to the factory where he works. Meanwhile news in the mail leaves older sister Losa worried if she'll ever pass her degree, and younger sister Moana starts hanging out with a music-loving Indian teen, whose newest role model is Che Guevara. The Factory is directed by Supergroove bassist and music video king Joe Lonie.  

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The Factory - 03, Sexy Time (Episode Three)

2013, Executive Producer, Original Writer, As: Lily - Web

A  knife-wielding duet is the highlight of this episode of web series The Factory. Tavita (Taofia Pelesasa) oldest sibling in the Saumalu family, sneaks out one night to earn some under the counter cash; he ends up showing off his musical chops, alongside Moka (Milly Grant). Meanwhile Mum Lily (Anapela Polataivao) starts to worry that the family’s devotion to their grandfather will result in serious musical embarrassment, once the talent quest kicks off. Polataivao was one of the creators of The Factory’s original incarnation, as a hit stage musical.

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The Factory - 04, Umu (Episode Four)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

Web series The Factory is a tale of family and music, inspired by a stage show that became one of the hits of the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival, then travelled to Australia and the Edinburgh Festival. In the fourth episode, try-hard next door neighbour Api tells Losa she ought to be singing alongside him, in the upcoming talent quest. Losa responds by comparing his haircut to a toilet brush. Meanwhile Losa's mother Lily is somewhat surprised to arrive at a party, and find her oven out on the street.

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The Factory - 05, Paua Struggle (Episode Five)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

Contest day has finally dawned; but will the competitors make it on stage in time? In this fifth episode of the PI-flavoured web series, it is the big day for the X-Factory contest, but as the first teams start performing, one of the Saumalus is missing in action: oldest sibling Tavita (Taofia Pelesasa) is caught up in some delicate yet insult-filled negotiations involving black market paua. The makers of The Factory auditioned talent in various South Auckland halls and markets; nearly half of the cast are first time actors. 

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The Factory - 06, Showtime! (Episode Six)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

In this episode of the 2014 web series, South Auckland family the Saumulus finally make it on stage to perform in a best-of-the-factories talent quest. Tensions rise before the family debut, with teenager Tavita late to arrive. The Saumalus sneak through, but one of the judges warns that their act needs an upgrade: “this is X Factory not the History Channel.” Later a fish spill threatens to expose Tavita’s after hours work, as events at the laundry heat up. The Factory was inspired by the Kila Kokonut Krew musical stage show.

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The Factory - 07, Sh*t Salad (Episode Seven)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

This 2014 web series follows a South Auckland family who set their sights on winning a best-of-the-factories talent quest. In the seventh episode the Saumalus have just snuck through to the next round of the quest, but patriarch Tigi doesn’t seem to have heeded the judge's advice to come back with something from “this century”. Factory boss Keith makes a shock announcement about the factory’s future: the sale of the factory threatens half the workforce. As discussions continue on how to respond to the news, Tavita gets the Romeo and Juliet blues.

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The Factory - 08, Time to Shine (Episode Eight)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

In the eighth episode of this tale of family, factory and music, the Saumalus protest the sale of Murdoch Textiles and expeted loss of jobs. Indian-Kiwi student Dev (Shaan Kesha) enlists Moana in his plan to break into the boss’s office and make the workers' voices heard. Even if Dev’s blundering scheme doesn’t impress Moana, it does enable subtle marketing use of the show’s sponsorship from Telecom (now Spark) — “what’s your phone number again? 027 SHITFORBRAINS?”.

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The Factory - 09, Ballbag (Episode Nine)

2013, As: Lily, Executive Producer, Original Writer - Web

In the ninth episode of this web series, Dev (Shaan Kesha) tries to make up for his protests over the factory's impending sale to Chinese buyers: including a spraypainted message in the boss's office, calling him a 'ballbag'. Uni accounting studies pay dividends, as Dev persuades factory boss Keith (Cameron Rhodes) to call the sale of Murdoch Textiles off. There are even more surprising developments to come, after Moana introduces Dev to a Saumalu family dinner. Actor Rhodes was also seen in acclaimed 2014 horror film Housebound

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The Factory - 10, No Butter Chicken (Episode 10)

2013, Executive Producer, As: Lily, Original Writer - Web

This 2014 web series follows a South Auckland family chasing a talent quest title. In this 10th episode (out of 20) the Saumalu family debates Moana’s shock announcement that she is getting engaged to Indian-Kiwi Dev. The head-girl and student DJ are a South Auckland Romeo and Juliet. Dad Kavana wants to send Moana home for some ‘Fa’a Samoa’ (‘Samoan way’) education. Meanwhile Moana finds out that Dev is already engaged, and decides to move things to the next level. The series was based on the hit stage show that debuted at the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival.

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Night Shift

2012, As: Salote - Short Film

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Fresh - Bloopers and Fob Outs (Series Two)

2012, Presenter - Television

This bloopers reel from Pasifika youth show Fresh begins with a series of pieces to camera gone wrong: sibling presenters Nainz and Viiz Tupai (Adeaze) get the giggles introducing 'Fresh Games', Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea'i gets his man breasts ready for action, and Pani and Pani get lyrical about raisins. 'Fob Outs' (outtakes set to Outkast’s 'Hey Ya') include Scribe missing a beat, All Black Jerome Kaino getting tongue-tied, choreographer Parris Goebel pulling faces, actors Robbie Magasiva and David Fane mugging for the camera, and Nicole Whippy getting funky.

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Fresh

2011 - ongoing, As: Pani - Television

Fresh is a popular TVNZ youth show with a focus on Pasifika arts, culture, events and sport. Since 2011 its “Poly-platter” of pacific flavours has ranged from singer Ria Hall and sports star Sonny Bill Williams, to Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa and hip hop choreographer Parris Goebel. It screens on Saturday mornings on TV2. Fresh regulars have included Robbie Magasiva, Samoan 'sisters' Pani and Pani, and the Fresh Housewives. The show is produced by Tiki Lounge Productions, the team behind online PI social network Coconet.tv. 

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Eruption

2010, As: Ana - Television

This telefeature imagines the build up to, and aftermath, of an Auckland volcanic eruption. The last big one produced Rangitoto, and scientist Clive de Roo (Mark Mitchinson from Siege) is the man who discovers under the mountain rumblings, 600 years later. Citizens are non-plussed until the top pops. Eruption was produced for TV3 by The Gibson Group and was one of the last projects completed by veteran screenwriter Graeme Tetley (Out of the Blue, Vigil) before his death in 2011. The Gibson Group had earlier produced 2008 earthquake in Wellington drama Aftershock.

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The Cult

2009, As: Motel Owner - Television

The Cult follows two groups: the members of a commune, who have renounced all contact with the outside world, and a loose-knit team of 'liberators', keen to reestablish contact with commune members they care about. The first prime time drama from Great Southern Film and Television won six of its 11 nominations at the 2010 Qantas Film and Television Awards — including for the acting of Lisa Chappell and Danielle Cormack (as a devious doctor). It was nominated for Best Drama. The moody 13-part thriller was created by Kathryn Burnett and Peter Cox. 

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KTV

2006 - 2007, Writer, Producer - Television

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The Market

2005, As: Ina Lima - Television

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Tala Pasifika

1995, As: Losa - Television

Tala Pasifika was a pioneering Pacific Island drama series produced by He Taonga Films and mentored by Ruth Kaupua and the late Don Selwyn. NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission backed the project. Of eight short dramas; the first six screened on TV One as part of Tagata Pasifika in 1996 and another two screened in 1999. Seen as an opportunity to extend the cultural diversity of local TV drama, it was the first drama series dedicated to Samoan culture in NZ and a showcase for emerging Samoan screenwriters, directors and actors.

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Tala Pasifika - Brown Sugar

1995, As: Losa - Television

Tala Pasifika was a pioneering Pacific Island drama series; this episode is one of six short films that screened on TV One in 1996. 'Brown Sugar' is an upbeat drama about Tiuila (Tausili Mose) and Samuelu (Johnny La'ulu), two young hopefuls who meet in a music shop. Samuelu longs to be an actor and sees his chance for fame when he meets a TV commercial producer. Tiuila belongs to an amateur vocal group who are relaxed, confident and proud of their South Auckland upbringing. They name their act 'Brown Sugar' before singing to a packed house.