Aspirations: Stories of Samoan Youth shaping their future

Dec 11, 2015

From left to right, Charles Netzler, Karla Luao Leota, Ari Hazelman, Keli Tuatagaloa, Margaret Crawford and Ernesto Rollando. Photo credit: UNDP/F.Mondello/2015

To conclude the 2015 National Youth Week, today the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a photo exhibition entitled: Aspirations.

Aspirations is a photographic project that aims at documenting the reality of youths in Samoa, with a special focus on employment. It is one of the activities planned to give visibility to the Samoa One – UN Youth Employment Programme that has been recently signed by the MWCSD and five UN agencies namely: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

The exhibition intends to tackle negative perceptions about young people and promote youth as an untapped reservoir of talent, energy and creativity no matter what their occupation is. It tells the stories of five girls and six boys from different villages, talks about their main occupation and discloses their aspirations for the future. 

Aspirations is the result of the expertise and talent of two young photographers, one Italian Ernesto Rollando, and one Samoan, Au Ali'i Tia Charles Aukuso Netzler. 

Ernesto, 22 years old, grew up between Brussels and London. Graduated in Economics and Politics from Queen Mary, University of London, he moved to Samoa in September 2015 to work for UNDP as an intern. “I inherited my passion for photography from my father, who travelled the world for many years as a photographer. This photo exhibition is a first attempt to match my passion for photography with my profession in the area of international development”.  

Charles Netzler, 26 years old, studied graphic design at Auckland University of Technology where he wrote a paper on architecture photography. “Photography is truly an art”  - he said – “It has become a passion and a profession and now I am about to move to Europe to study a Master Course to improve my skills and share my perspective with other people who are passionate about its practice”. 

The collaboration between Ernesto and Charles resulted in an innovation in the Samoan photographic scene. The youths depicted in the forty pictures are: Li’aifaiva Magele Fesola’i Imo Levi, Margaret Crawford, Ari Hazelman, Karla Luaao Leota, Fred Feaunati, Fani Bruun, Kolio Autu, Liugalua Boe, Keli Tuatagaloa, Iele Isaako and Mikaele Paitusi. 

The opening reception was held at the Tooa Salamasina Hall in Apia today at 5:00pm and counted with the presence of the Hon. Minister Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps and youth groups.

The exhibition is on view at the Hall of the MWCSD until the end of December and then it will be displayed in other venues at a later stage.


Contact information
  • Mrs. Francesca Mondello, UN Coordination Specialist - Email: - Phone: (685) 23670 Extension 66
  • Mrs. Angharad Toma Saga – Principal Youth Development Officer – Email – – Phone – (685) 21997

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Samoa (Multi-country Office) 
Go to UNDP Global