ESTELLA "GRAM" REID 1934-2020
Founder (Rest in Love)
In 1965, Nonosina was founded by Estella Reid in her home garage with her daughter, Riki, as her first student. Later Estella became affectionately known as "Gram," a term of endearment coined by her eldest granddaughter, Tiani Mariteragi.
Gram was born in Faleniu, American Samoa, and as a young teen she moved to Lāʻie, Oʻahu. Eventually her journey led her to Los Angeles/Orange County, California, where she planted her new roots, married, started a family of her own, and eventually founded Nonosina Polynesia. Under her stewardship, Nonosina has survived and thrived for over 57 years.
The one constant in Gram's life through thick & thin was: DANCE.
We celebrate and honor Gram every March at our Annual Founder's Day as a way for us to pay remembrance and express our gratitude for the sacrifices that Gram made in order to build the house that we now call Nonosina Polynesia. Through her tutelage thousands of lifelong dancers found their creative outlet. Furthermore, dozens of other dance teachers and studios were born as a result of their training at Nonosina.
We love and miss you, Gram!
RIKI MANUIA LIUFAU
Emeritus Creative Director
With Nonosina’s roots steadfast and their trunk standing firm, their branches continued to grow as the Nonosina leadership passed to Estella’s youngest daughter, Riki Liufau, affectionately known to many as Aunty Riki or Mama Riki.
Aunty Riki was the very first Nonosina student in 1965. She assisted Gram in the many different responsibilities of running a cultural dance group, including teaching, choreographing, stage management, and costumes.
Aunty Riki took the Polynesian dance competition circuit by storm. Aunty Riki trained hundreds of award-winning solo competition dancers, in addition to holding the record for the most group awards. Mama Riki was integral to leading Nonosina Polynesia to new horizons in the 70s and 80s, and continues to train dancers at Nonosina to this day.
Aunty Riki is a proud grandmother, loving aunty, and businesswoman. Similar to Gram, Mama Riki was ahead of her time. She co-founded Matiki's Island BBQ along with her husband, Mel Liufau, an aeronautical engineer and skilled fire knife dancer.
We love and appreciate Mama Riki's strength, passion, dedication, tutelage, and openness!
Photo by Josh Tatofi
TIANA NONOSINA LIUFAU
Nonosina Polynesia Creative Director, 2010-present
Our current creative director is Tiana Nonosina Liufau. Tiana is fierce but humble, and she values cultural concept & protocol when approaching movement as an artistic medium. Tiana is an accomplished dancer, drummer, musician, choreographer, scholar, and cultural educator. Tiana is a proud graduate of UCLA's World Arts & Culture Program. Tiana is a role model and staunch advocate of the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Tiana skillfully leads Nonosina in cultural practice, protocol, competition, and professional performances. Tiana is a featured choreographer on the hit show "So You Think You Can Dance." She was also the motion curator and choreographer for Disney's "Moana", and created content choreography for "Disney on Ice" & Wiiʻs "Just Dance."
Although many opportunities are amazing and humbling, Tiana's most meaningful experiences include her participation in cultural presentations and community events. Some of her most vivid recollections of gratitude include drumming with Hitireva Pupu ʻOri at the Heiva I Tahiti, another is the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival leading Nonosina as the featured exhibition. Nonosina travels worldwide as a group, conducting cultural exchanges with groups such as Kilohana, Aratoʻa, and Tamaʻitaʻi.
Tiana's expertise and talent is in high demand. She is available by request for workshops (dance, drum, music or) cultural and to judge competitions.
Tiana has fulfilled these types of requests in Tahiti, Japan, Okinawa, Australia, Hawaiʻi, France, Spain, Mexico and all across the United States. Tiana's driving force is to honor the mana, mission and legacy of the "House of Gram" a.k.a. Nonosina Polynesia.
spreads its wings
SAME MISSION IN MANY HOUSES
MEVINA MAXWELL LIUFAU
Riki’s eldest son, Mevina, served as Creative Director of Nonosina Polynesia from 1998-2009. Gram and Aunty Riki enthusiastically passed on the torch to Mevina and allowed him to lead the group only after extensive traditional training and language research that he continued in Tahiti. Mevina is an accomplished dancer, musician, composer, producer and stage performer. He speaks multiple languages and is an innovative pioneer of modern Polynesian music, dance and choreography. His contributions elevated Nonosina to new heights.
Mevina currently lives in Orange County, CA and Tokyo, Japan. Mevina is the co-founder and director of the popular Tahitian dance group based in Japan called, Tavake Rereata (Nonosina Japan).
TIANI & JON MARITERAGI
Gramʻs eldest granddaughter, Tiani, is the co-founder and co-director of Nonosina Hawaii. Tiani was a lead dancer at Nonosina Polynesia for many years until her journey led her to Oʻahu. Tiani lives in Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi, with her husband, Jon Mariteragi, and their family. Jon is an integral part of the Polynesian Cultural Center and he comes from a long line of Hawaiian and Tahitian cultural experts, musicians and dancers.
It was meant to be when Gram asked them to carry on the Nonosina name for a group of their own, as Tiani spread her wings and arrived to her new home in Hawaii. Our Nonosina legacy and mission is respectfully carried on by Tiani and Jon in Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi.
Gram's grandson, Sefa, was the Tahitian drum lead, custom Tahitian drum maker, and drum instructor at Nonosina Polynesia for many years. Sefa has spread his artistic wings beyond Nonosina and his Tahitian beats can be heard streaming all across the ʻori Tahiti world and dance challenge videos on social media.
Sefa is an original beat maker, music producer, and loves to perform percussion sets professionally with various groups such as Faiva. Sefa continues to teach Tahitian drum classes with his own drumming group.
Be sure to listen to SefaDrums on all music streaming platforms.