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 Tauira, artist,  Siliga David Setoga and his Whanau sitting down at a table for a kai.

Acclaimed artist Siliga David Setoga disrupts notions of identity, politics and religion but with his head for business, it puts food on the table.

The father of five, has a Master of Fine Arts, and is currently enrolled into the Level 4 Certificate in Small Business Management in Newmarket, through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Throughout his art career he’s showcased his works in diverse places, from the Otara Markets and Te Papa Tongarewa, to the Centre of Contemporary Art and the British Museum.

In 2007, he took his designs and applied them to T-shirts by setting up Popohardware Ltd. with his wife. 

He realised then that he needed to add some financial skills to his palette.

“We got into business because we were passionate and loved what we were doing, but totally lacked the structure we needed to not only survive in business but thrive,” he says.

“Financial literacy is key in life to be honest, it should be taught in school.”

To succeed, Siliga first completed a Level 3, Certificate in Money Management and says although the concepts were not foreign, they surpassed all his expectations.

“I was very happy with the delivery of the programme, and I also loved the whānau-based approach and the way it guides people up,” he says.

“A lot of it was common sense delivered at a level I found easy to understand but what I found challenging was trying to muster up the discipline to complete tasks in and around a busy household.”

While Siliga currently works at the as a Recycle Sorter at the Henderson Transfer Station, he has also tutored in design and mentored senior high school students into Tertiary Art School training as part of Tautai, a contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, which he also co-chairs.

“While life is happening, what drove me to push through was knowing that my parents sacrificed a lot to get me to where I'm at now, and this was my turn to make sacrifices for our children.”

Of Niuean and Samoan descent, Siliga was born and raised in Mt Eden and attributes the struggle of “belonging” as a key component in his art practice.

Now he’s applying what he’s learning at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa into other areas of his life too.

“Life is about risk and reward, budgeting, energy, time, accounting and reconciling. Nothing good comes easy. If you want it, you have to fight for it. Then you will truly know that you've earned it and you deserve it,” he says.

“We analyse our Statement of Position and it informs us if whether or not we are on track.”

This is merely a starting point. I want to take it as far as I possibly can.

Visit www.popohardwear.com

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