NZ U72 powerlifting open champion Barbra Auva'a is taking a new path, serving her community as a police officer. Constable Auva'a says the community is her extended family and whānau are the most important thing in her life.
Whether it's in the gym or on the beat, Barbra "Bee" Auva'a is on a mission to inspire and serve.
“Being a female, growing in a male dominant world, I wanted to let the girls know we can step into these big boys’ roles and make a difference at the same time,” she says.
Auva'a holds the NZ and Oceania records for the squat (185kg) and deadlift (201kg) in the U72 division.
She says, "I believe that everybody is made for something, made for greatness pretty much, but you've got to find that sport that's going to grab that greatness out of you.
"I think this is it, powerlifting is definitely the sport for me."
Now, she's on a new journey as a Police officer, something that she has always aimed for. Born in Samoa, Auva'a grew up in Auckland and recently graduated with a new cohort of Auckland-based recruits.
“Hopefully, my friendly face will make it a little bit easier for people to come and approach me and talk to me... to have that relationship," she says, "That's our main goal, to have that trust and confidence with our community. Be able to let them know that they're safe when we're around.”
Auva'a says she had strong female role models growing up and strives to emulate them.
“Being in this platform and, I guess, being part of this agency, I'm able to inspire young girls to kind of reach for their dreams and go for it," she says, "because this has been a big dream of mine and I'm here now, so I'm very grateful.”
She says powerlifting is an ideal sport for Pacific and Māori women.
“We have a lot of strong girls, especially in the PI and Māori community," says Auva’a. "The talent is there, they just need to know who to talk to and who to go to get that help to be like, 'hey, you've got it there now'. Just put that talent on training and they'll show it on the day.”
Auva'a will compete at the world powerlifting championship in October.