Vela Manusaute is a writer and director born on Niue Island who moved to New Zealand in 1979. His passion for drama began at high school and he joined Pacific Theatre in 1987, which toured the country performing to schools. He graduated from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in 1996.
His first play was The Taro King (2002), which led to the formation of the Kila Kokonut Krew entertainment company. Kila Kokonut Krew has produced a number of successful works, including, Players’ Night, Once Were Samoans and the first Pacific stage musical, The Factory, which toured Australia and Edinburgh in 2014. Vela was also the executive producer for a web series of The Factory.
He was a joint recipient of a New Generation Award for Kila Kokonut Krew, alongside his partner Anapela Polataivao, at the Westpac New Zealand Arts Awards, 2014. My Name is Pilitome is his first Niuean work. In 2017, Vela directed his first short film The Messiah, commissioned by New Zealand Film Commission, inspired by his own experience growing up.