Most read: From harvesting crops to the NFL, the inspiring Hollywood tale of Tongan linebacker Pita Taumoepenu

This story was first published on Wednesday August 9

Taumoepenu grew up in the tiny village of Pea but now he’s plying his trade in San Francisco. Source: 1 NEWS

Pita Taumoepenu isn't quite a household name in the US yet but he’s already living the dream.

Born in Texas, the 23-year-old’s single mother had little time outside work, which forced him to spend the first 17 years of his life with his grandparents in Tonga.

Taumoepenu says life in the Pacific was important though.

"My mum also wanted me to grow up in all the culture and know my family and know who I am as a man."

Taumoepenu grew up working on a farm in the tiny village of Pea, where he was friends with former All Black Malakai Fekitoa, and spent his days harvesting taro and watermelon.

His late grandfather always said he would one day go back to the US and become a big sports star – something Taumoepenu struggled to understand.

"I didn't get it at the time," he said.

"I laughed and I'd look at him and I was like, 'what are you talking about?'"

He went from a 17-year-old with no English or football skills to a star linebacker for the University of Utah.

SUPER GRATEFUL

Then last April, he was drafted by five-time Super Bowl champions the San Francisco 49ers.

"I'm just super grateful," he told 1 NEWS' Matt Manukia. 

"It's crazy how life changes when you just stay consistent and keep believing."

His speed, agility and aggression are his strengths. Last year he earned almost $1 million in the first year of his four-year contract, but despite the money and TV time, he still gets star-struck every once and while.

At least he was when he met Super Bowl-winning teammate and defensive back Richard Sherman.

"He walked up to me like, 'Pita right?' and I was like, 'damn! this future hall of fame guy knows my name.' I mean, that's crazy!"

So far, Taumoepenu's only played pre-season games but on Friday, he'll get another chance to impress against the Cowboys in this year's pre-season opener.

However, he’s looking past that contest.

"I can't believe I made it this far so just continue to keeping working hard."



Pasifika leaders call for action after Florida bar trademarks Fijian bula greeting

Pasifika leaders in New Zealand are calling for people to post one-star reviews for a Florida bar that has trademarked the word 'bula'.

The commonly-used Fijian greeting was trademarked this month by United States businessman, Ross Kashtan.

This sparked outrage online.

Ross Kashtan owned three "bula" businesses spread across Florida - Bula Kafe, Bula on the Beach and Bula Coco Beach.

He probably did not expect a huge backlash when he went to trademark the word "bula".

But he got one.

Among those to express their fury online was Josiah Tualamali'i, who is one of the members of the Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry panel and the chairperson of New Zealand Pasifika youth charity PYLAT.

Mr Tualamali'i wanted people to leave one-star reviews on the Facebook page of one of Mr Kashtan's bars.

"I just thought 'well they have 4.9 as their overall rating so let's pull that back a bit'," said Mr Tualamali'i.

"We know they are listening because they removed my comment and some others, so this has got to them and that was the point."

Dozens of angry people have left such reviews.

The word Bula itself is a commonly-used traditional Fijian greeting.

Trademarking it meant Mr Kashtan could attempt to prevent other businesses like his using the word.

"They are trying to steal something that doesn't belong to them," said Mr Tualamali'i. "It really has to end."

Mr Kashtan's bula logo appeared on many of his business' products and advertising, from signage and bottle branding, to "bula babe shorts".

Checkpoint repeatedly tried to get in touch with Mr Kashtan, but only got as far as one of his workers who was well aware of the unfolding drama.

"It's not to inhibit anyone to use it, we just don't want anyone calling their businesses that because we have a ten-year-old business called 'bula'," the worker said.

"It's not too hurt anybody...we are really good people I promise."

He said he would pass along Checkpoint's contact details to Mr Kashtan, but we have not heard back.

It's not the first time United States businesses have been accused of cultural appropriation.

Illinois restaurant chain Aloha Poke Company copped criticism just last month for sending cease and desist letters to other restaurants using the word 'aloha'.

The US Patent and Trademark office lists 43 companies which have trademarked the word 'bula".

The New Zealand government was unimpressed with this recent trademark.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, said more needed to be done to stop this kind of thing happening.

"This is a disturbing revelation and will be distressful not only to Fijians in New Zealand but to all Fijians throughout the world," he said.

"It is unbelievable that a company from another country can trademark what belongs to another group of people."

- by Logan Church

rnz.co.nz

Bula Kafe. Source: Facebook

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North and South Korea confirm joint bid for 2032 Summer Olympics

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement today that the countries planned to jointly bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics.

At a major summit, the two leaders gave no details of which cities might host certain events at the games, or how advanced the plans were.

The International Olympic Committee traditionally does not announce host cities until seven years ahead of the games. That would give the Koreas until 2025 to put together a joint bid.

Germany has already announced plans for a multi-city bid for 2032, as has Brisbane, Australia. The India Olympic Committee has also indicated its interest in hosting the 2032 Games.

A successful bid by the Koreas would mark the second time South Korea hosted or co-hosted the Summer Games, the first being 1988 in Seoul. South Korea also hosted the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February.

Asia also features in the next two Olympics — the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, which also hosted the summer version in 2008.

The joint statement today also said the Koreas would look to cooperate in major sports events such as the 2020 Games, also without elaborating.

South Korean President Moon Jae In (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un take part in a pine tree planting ceremony in the border village of Panmunjeom on April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool) (Kyodo)
==Kyodo
(Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) and South Korean President Moon Jae In took part in an historic meeting in April. Source: Getty


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Eden Park's new Our Wāhine mural showcases iconic female athletes to celebrate women’s suffrage anniversary

Auckland sports stadium Eden Park has unveiled a new mural dedicated to iconic New Zealand sportswomen as part of celebrations of the 125th anniversary since Kiwi women gained the right to vote.

The mural, which spans multiple areas of the stadium, includes Yvette Williams (track and field), Suzie Bates (cricket), Farah Palmer, Fiao'o Fa'amausili (rugby), Ruia Morrison (tennis), Dame Valerie Adams (shot put) and Lisa Carrington (kayaking).

Eden Park commissioned Kiwi artist Kate Hursthouse for the artwork.

Hursthouse says 'Our Wāhine' was a special piece for her.

"It's great to have such an iconic venue in my local neighbourhood celebrate New Zealand sportswomen, acknowledge Suffrage 125 and additionally make these seven women a permanent feature of the stadium," she said.

Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner said inspiration for the mural came from last month's Black Ferns Test match against the Wallaroos.

"My great grandmother signed the scroll to get women the vote," he said.

"It's important to celebrate the women who are pushing limits and breaking boundaries in both the professional and sporting worlds. Most of those featured have long affiliations with our stadium."

Dame Valerie Adams and Yvette Williams feature among the seven chosen for the piece. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: MLB pitcher makes insane behind-the-back catch on ball drilled back at him

A Major League Baseball pitcher has shown his teammates how it's done in the field after using some impressive reflexes to turn an unlikely double play.

New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz stunned commentators and players alike after he managed to catch a ball hit straight back at him behind his back before recovering and throwing to first for an innings-ending double play.

Matz allowed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins on base with a walk in the fifth innings of today's game before Roman Quinn stepped up to the plate with one out.

Quinn laced a pitch back up the middle of the diamond for what looked like a safe hit until Matz managed to get his glove behind and fall to the ground to not only stop the ball, but make a catch.

Hoskins, who jumped on contact was left frozen and flat-footed by the play as Matz recovered and threw to first base from his knees to complete the third out and earn applause from the Philadelphia crowd.

Unfortunately for Matz, the effort was in vain as the Mets went down to the Phillies 5-2 thanks to a five-run innings later in the game when he was relieved from the mound.


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