Not only is Veronica Pome’e the first Pasifika woman to feature in world-known Sports Illustrated, she is a plus-size model putting Pasifika on the world map.
Pome’e is in New Zealand to raise awareness of being comfortable in your body and issues in the Pacific after being featured in New Zealand’s Spasifika Magazine.
"This is my first international cover… I’m pioneering for change," she says.
"I'm able to encourage people from different walks of life that you can dream big and not be afraid of your own potential or afraid of failure."
"Had I allowed fear to hold me back, I wouldn’t be on Sports Illustrated."
Pome'e strongly acknowledges her family, ancestors and cultural values within the Pacific, holding women in high regard.
"Understanding what it means to be a woman, to feel empowered and be inspired by it ... I had to tap into my truth and come into my own and it’s a feeling I want to share with all women."
Pome'e says she's had her 'fair share of trolls' following her Sports Illustrated shoot but chose to ignore the critics for not fitting societal expectations.
"I don't give it my energy because that's exactly why I'm in the position I'm in, to redefine these standards, to redefine what we view as beauty."
"My message for the girls is to really walk in their truth, own who they are."
Pome'e is set to venture to her home island of Tonga to celebrate the birthday of King Tupou IV, later next week.
She was raised in southern California.