by CHRIS GILMORE
A well-known Coast-based musician is preparing to shave his head to help children with terminal cancer in his native Fiji.
Samuela Taukave, better known as Skillz FJ, will shave his beautiful long, curly hair on his 33rd birthday with the aim of raising $33,000 for WOWS Kids Fiji.
His sister-in-law Andrea Kirwin, who is also an established musician and director and owner of Peace Run Records in Nambour, will also be shaving her wonderful hair in support of the campaign.
“After the birth of my first son, I planned to cut my hair then but decided to wait until after his first birthday to do it,” Skillz says. “He is now one and so I hope to raise my target by July 6, the day I turn 33.”
WOWS – which stands for Walk On Walk Strong – is the only organisation in Fiji that works specifically on child cancer matters. Founded in 2009, it collaborates with the country’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services to provide support for families with children living with cancer, and to raise awareness on child cancer issues. It also provides support for children from the other Pacific Island countries that come to Fiji for cancer treatment.
Skillz, from Peregian Beach, was inspired to help the organisation through his musical work.
“My journey with WOWS Kids began in 2014 with a team of young Pacific artists based in Suva called Rako Pasefika,” he says. “We were invited to play at their WOWS concert fundraiser and the first from the team to take the plunge, Paul Dominiko, took part in the Shave or Save campaign then as well. Since then, we were always happy to play at any fundraisers WOWS needed us to be at because we always knew that it was for a good cause.
“The work WOWS Kids Fiji does is so important and if shaving my head is a way to support the cause, I will do it. I have been asked many times when I will be cutting my hair but it has always been a big part of my image, not only as an individual but as a performer.
“My sister-in-law Andrea Kirwin will be shaving her hair with me in support of the campaign. The shave will take place at her studio on Queen St in Nambour. Live coverage of the event will be via my Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube page under the username @skillzfj.”
Skillz, who is originally from the island of Rotuma, migrated to the Coast in 2020 with his wife Litia to welcome their newborn son Samuela Jnr in December of that year. He plays gigs across the Coast and runs workshops between Noosa and Brisbane as well as online, with students all over the world.
He was first introduced to the arts through hip hop and street dancing while still in school in Suva. It was only a few months after starting university studies in chemistry, physics and biology that he fully realised his love for arts and music, beginning his full-time journey as a performer. Since then, Skillz has earned four Fiji Performing Rights Association Awards alongside his fellow Rako Pasefika artists, and they have played at places including the Sydney Opera House, Byron Bay Bluesfest and Woodford Folk Festival.
“My passion for the arts is something I will continue to communicate, pass down and encourage with one and all because life is only lived once, and should be lived without regrets,” he says.
WOWS Kids Fiji works alongside the Tae Kami Foundation, which was set up in memory of the inspiring Tongan musician who died aged 15. She left behind a song called Walk On Walk Strong, a list of dreams to improve and enhance the services and support rendered to children with cancer.
“During one of our tours to Tonga we were invited to open for the Laughing Samoans, where we stayed at the home that the late Tae Kami had grown up in,” Skillz says. “Hearing all the stories about Tae and the many people she inspired from her lovely neighbours, it always brought tears to my eyes.”
To donate to Skillz’s fundraiser visit gofund.me/a5717a90.