How the Rio Olympics made this oil a winner

Jessica Afeaki has been running Kenani Estate Company with her husband Soakimi for the past four years. Their company makes the fragrant Kakala Polynesian Body Oil range for the Tongan and export market.

The Kakala range on rustic looking bamboo shelves.

Though the business started out as a hobby, Ms Afeaki worked hard to fine tune her product range while also simultaneously raising a family. It was a challenge she rose to with help from a supportive family, Ms Afeaki says. “From manufacturing the coconut oil to packaging and sales there are so many different hats to wear.”

The turning point came in 2016 during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics when Tongan athlete Pita Lolo led the Tongan contingent viewed by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“When Pita Lolo opened Rio 2016 without his shirt and his skin glistening in oil, that was the kickstart we needed,” Ms Afeaki said. “We’ve had more success in the local market. Not from foreigners but from local Tongans and Tongans living abroad.”

With that boost, the company started with fragranced coconut oil, then moved to simple recipes of balms and sugar scrubs. “I then got the opportunity to invite leading NZ Cosmeceuticals Managing Director Dr. Olga Garkavenko to Tonga for some one on one training on manufacturing serums and lotions. It was a success and I was able to create my first set of moisturisers,” Ms Afeaki said.

“We have a range of Kakala virgin coconut body oils fragranced with popular fragrances such as Mango, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang, Frangipani and Pure unscented. We also have naturally infused oils with popular Tongan plants like Sinamoni, Sipici, Pako and Mohokoi. We do a range of Tui tui (Candlenut) face moisturizer and virgin coconut based body lotions,”she added.

Kakala is participating in the Pasifika Festival as part of the Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) NZ Pacific Path to Market programme. Ms Afeaki will be representing Kakala at Pasifika.

For more information email Joe Fuavao, PT&I NZ Trade Development Manager at

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