Family Legacy:

 

Vairea's seafaring ancestors left Apia (Samoa) & Tongareva (the Cook Islands) to start families across the territory known today as French Polynesia (specifically Rurutu, Maupiti, Tubuai & Kaukura, where her 4 grandparents were born). Her link to modern day 'ori Tahiti can be traced back to both her paternal grandfather: Adorator Tupana & her maternal grandfather: Teaia Naea. Both men were Ra'atira (group leaders of their own pupu 'ori (traditional Polynesian dance troupes).

 

 


 

 

 

 

At age 4, Vairea's parents placed her into her first 'ori Tahiti children's group where she was introduced to the dance of her ancestors. As soon as she old enough to travel, she toured the Marquesan Islands with her older brother Hamautea dancing for the group Tamariki Oparo (under the direction of Pierrot Faraire). However, 2009 was her landmark year, as she & her mother participated together in Vairea's 1st Heiva i Tahiti at the To'atā stage with the innovative KEI TAWHITI (under the direction of Carlos & Maire Tuia). Since then, Vairea has continued to participate in the Heiva every year. If she is not on the dance floor as a "feia 'ori", she is part of one of the group's costume making teams working alongside her mother & sister.  Outside the competitive scene, she has learned so much about the 'ori Tahiti with her church's youth group in Pa’ofa’i & learned directly from many of her relatives of whom are renowned dance masters.

Much of Vairea's love for her culture comes directly from her immediate family & their lifestyle. Reo Mā'ohi was taught to her as her

1st language. Vairea often reminds the youth "there cannot be 'ori Tahiti without the Reo Mā'ohi!". She is fluent in three dialects

(Tahitian, Rurutu & the distinct dialect from Rapa-iti) as well as being self taught over the years in 'eo Enana (Marquesan dialect).

 

Her father, Philippe "Tāne" Tupana was born on Manihi island in the Tuamotu region. Growing up, he was Vairea's main influence to learn music, teaching her every song he knew on the keyboard & the guitar. In addition, he taught Vairea the Pa'umotu importance of the Va'a, something he & she still love to practice together.

 

Her mother Fabiola Naea (Madame Tupana, President of the Federation Faa'a i Te Rima Ve'ave'a), still actively dances, sings & plays the Ukulele when she is not busy with her crafting. Since Vairea was young, she has worked very closely with the other "mamas" of her mother's group, learning the Australes (Rurutu) way to braid & weave Rara'a. Fabiola is also the Vice President of Tōmite Tahiti ite Rima Rau, who bi-annually hosts HEIVA RIMA'I (the official Heiva for traditional handcrafts & tattooing in July & December).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early 2000's, Vairea worked diligently with her mother to establish their own association & shop at the Mairie de Faa'a, "Heituitevaianitea", which is on its 18th anniversary strong to this day. Being an artisan, designer & composer adds to a long list of pillars which lay the foundation for Vairea's identity as a Vahine Mā'ohi; she often places great importance to live with her passion & cultural heritage on a daily basis.

 

In 2015, Vairea met the love of her life, Ryan Samn. Ryan was already a student of ‘ori Tahiti in the United States for several years & was sent to live in Faa’a Pamatai as apprentice to master orator & Ra’atira: Gerard Tepehu. Gerard brought Ryan to dance in the Heiva with him with the troupe Tefana i Ahura’i, where Vairea and he were paired as Pā’ō’ā partners. Their common passion to grow as cultural practitioners kept them close in contact & as their relationship bloomed, so did the creation of their family.

Samn family:

 In 2017, Vairea finally immigrated to the U.S. to live with her husband. Today, they are situated in the San Francisco Bay Area

with their two sons Tanera’i & Teuratangaroa. Although she is far from her island home, she continues to perpetuate her culture.

Tānera'i i Ni'a has become more than an association, it has become a support system for many & a bridge that links the true Mā'ohi culture, languages & design to the reflection of 'ori Tahiti outside of French Polynesia.

Tupana family:

Vairea’s paternal grandfather Adorator “Ato” Tupana was born on Kaukura island. After his second marriage to Vairea’s grandmother Tehinaoimihia Hauata from Tubuai, the two settled on Manihi island in the Vahitu region of the Tuamotus with their 7 children. It was here that Ato created his pupu ‘ori “Turipā’ō’ā” in which he was the Ra’atira & lead Tō'ere drummer. He was well respected for organizing the first voyage for Manihi drummers & athletes to join him in travelling to Tahiti in the 1960’s for the Tiurai competition (previous name of Heiva i Tahiti). It was here, Ato Tupana claimed a name for himself by becoming the champion of the “Pati’a Fa” spear throwing sport as well as his trademark sound on the “Ha’akete Punu” drum. One year he even entered his eldest daughter Maraurau as the candidate for “Best Female Dancer” to represent Manihi island.

Naea family:

Vairea’s maternal grandfather Teaia Naea was born on Rurutu but spent a lot of time between both his island home & in Tahiti. During his time spent in Tahiti in the 1950’s, he was one of the lead Tō'ere drummer for Madeleine Moua & her legendary troupe HEIVA. He & his drummers were victorious in the Tiurai (previous name of Heiva i Tahiti) winning the award for "Best Orchestra" several times. He stayed with Madeleine until the group's final days, drumming for Heiva until they closed their doors. Later on, he moved to the island of Makatea to work with his father & brother. There, he was Ra'atira of his own pupu ‘ori “Tamariki Makatea”, which he co-founded with his brother. As a result, dancing and drumming was highly encouraged by Teaia & his wife Haupea Tauaroa, as they raised their 8 children back & forth between Faa’a Puurai in Tahiti & Auti district in Rurutu.