22 February 2020
Neil Nuia.

A Change Maker's Story

He’s an active citizen, who loves everything about creativity and of course the art of Photography, and he is 31 year old Neil Nuia.

And Paoa FM’s Change Makers Program gets behind the scene and exposes the idealist with the big vision to form a community that uncovers a lot of passionate photographers in the country.

With vast interest and creativity, Neil is a committed active citizen who yields in many volunteer jobs in the society in the past years.

When asked what’s it like behind the camera, Neil said “behind the camera is powerful, like capturing a moment that belongs to someone and holding on to that moment”.

For Neil, photography started with his grandmother as an inspiration.

“I took a photo of my grandma using a digital camera back then.” 

Somehow that photo was one of his family’s favourite as it hangs on the wall of their house, and that’s when Neil started to explore his talent in photography, experimenting by using Nokia camera phones, digital cameras, and along the way gaining his experience and exploded to using digital single-lens reflex cameras/DSLRs.

While setting off into photography, Neil started encouraging his friends to do the same and try out photography.

So from a humble start in photography, Neil created a page on face book displaying his images taken around him ‘NN FOTOGRAFI’ he then went on to found the ‘PhotoUp NewLooks’ group, which grew to be the largest social networking group for photographers in the Solomon Islands with over 40,000 members.

The group is a platform where photography enthusiasts, amateur and professional, locally and abroad can share images, Neil said “70 percent of followers are from Solomon Islands and the rest are from other pacific countries.

So today you can see people going to PhotoUp to look at photos that inspires them, photos that tells them about their identity, the beauty of Solomon Islands and basically a photo that tells them a story.

Not only Neil started the PhotoUp-New Looks and NN FOTOGRAFI, he also started the initiative called #OneMoreShot#, which uses photography and film to raise funds for sick children who are in desperate need of medical operation overseas. 

After seeing a sick child died at the children’s ward at the National Referral Hospital without proper equipment to treat the kid, Neil has this strong idea of starting something that can help in any way to assist our sick children, that’s how #OneMoreShot initiative was established. 

“I came up with the concept, put it into perspective and it became a reality”. 

“And through starting of the #OneMoreShot, I took in 30 local photographers to join the initiative, we’ve talked and discussed about the idea in helping our sick children”.

To date, #OneMoreShot organized three successful campaigns for three sick children seeking medical assistance that can only be received abroad. 

Myrin's campaign was held in March 2018, it started the group's formation followed by Baby Peter's campaign where the group grew to also mobilise local photo enthusiasts in the region who are students or based overseas. 

Their previous campaign was that of Andy, which also supported the 13 year old boy's family to send their son for a lifesaving operation and through that initiative #OneMoreShot has helped the photographers build the art of photography individually, and it also builds them together, turning them into active citizens, and making them more powerful than they were beyond arts. 

With years of experience behind the lens, he established the passion for his work, with contributions to the local communities and the creativity of his work also expands – not just in photography but to other fields as well. 

And through that Neil established the theatre company known as 'Dreamcast Theatre' that was built with assistance from youth of his community. 

Dream Cast Theatre is an art place/space where youths can explore, create together, to collaborate and to look at possibilities in certain areas. Dream Cast Theatre is also a social and business enterprise, in terms of social enterprise, the theatre involves campaign programs, awareness and dramas, in terms of  business the theatre offers rental of space for events, programs also a cafe will be open in March next month to sell food and drinks. 

There will monthly ‘Open Mic program’ involving youth artists who will perform poetry, stand-up comedy, traditional chanting, singing and more.

Karaoke session and Comedy Bash are also planned for this year, apart from these activities at Dream Cast Theatre, Neil also highlighted that regular activities continuing are dance classes, yoga class, zumba class and there’s going to be a big film event coming up in March, auditions and shootings will start soon. You can look up Dream Cast Theatre Face Book Page for more details and updates for upcoming events, programs and activities.

A motivating background that conveys a message to youths the need to rise through certain failures and build from there, “I’m a high school dropout and back then I use to locked myself in my bedroom at home thinking there’s no opportunity for me, but as years passed I came to realize that it’s me that’s blocking myself, so I’d like to encourage our young people out there that the only person that’s blocking you is yourself”.

He further encouraged youths that you cannot make things work all by yourself you have to have others to help out, also there’s limited support for youths from the government, “that’s why we have to rise up in this avenue, if you wait, you’ll wait forever”. 

Apart from work, Neil takes his personal issues (family first) as top priority, “I hope that as my daughters grew, one day they will know how passionate I ‘am at what I do and for them to see that I’m doing all this for a reason”.

Truly a passionate change maker having to assist in a lot of ways to help youths grew their own passion.

Tune into Paoa FM for the Change Maker’s Program every Mondays at am, pm and pm.

The Change Makers Program is brought to you by the Side By Side Campaign through Oxfam Solomon Islands, where we talk to some of the most inspiring young leaders and innovators in the Solomon Islands.