In her final year of high school, rugby player Alena Saili watched the New Zealand women’s Black Ferns Sevens team win silver at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. In that moment, she knew she one day wanted to be on that podium, representing New Zealand. Just five years later, she realised that dream when she, as part of the Black Ferns Rugby Sevens, won gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Alena’s dedication to the rugby profession, the ups and downs of elite sport and her journey with the Black Ferns are just some of the many reasons she is being celebrated as the cover story of edition 9 of The Life magazine.
Published annually by Southland-based marketing agency Naked Creative, culture and lifestyle magazine The Life celebrates the best of Southland and Otago by sharing the stories of people and places. Edition 9 was released today, and is available on shelves across Southland and Otago, and online.
Editor Briar Babington says featuring Alena on the cover has been met enthusiastically by everyone in The Life’s editorial team, and was excited to be sharing the magazine with the public.
“Meeting Alena and talking to her about her story was such a joyful and genuine process, so when it came to deciding the cover story it was absolutely clear that it should be her,” she says.
“Her amazing career achievements as a sportswoman and her openness to share are inspiring, and I think anyone who reads the story will both be impressed and feel the amount of heart she gives to everything in her life.”
Edition 9 focuses on what The Life is calling “masters of craft” – a theme dedicated to celebrating people who are excelling and giving their all to their respective fields of expertise. Other stories featured in the magazine include a conversation with Bluff-based Poet Cilla McQueen who is a former New Zealand Poet Laureate, and a piece with sculptor Johnny Penisula chronicling his vast art career and his reflections on more than 40 years of sculpting, painting and creating.
Marking another year of bringing the magazine to life in a pandemic had thrown up some challenges, including a snap lockdown during one of the busiest times of The Life’s production schedule, but despite the time pinch, Babington was very proud of the edition the team had put together.
“Sitting down with people to hear their stories and write about them is always incredibly special for me – in a lot of cases it feels like people are sharing parts of themselves with you, so I always try to take incredible care of these pieces,” she says.
“This year especially has had an air of generosity about it – everyone is always kind when it comes to bringing our wonderful stories together, but that generosity seems to have compounded this time. I think pandemic life is making us treasure and celebrate those moments a bit more dearly, and I’m delighted that The Life is here to be part of celebrating those heroes.
It’s been a busy time at the publisher of The Life, Naked Creative, with the Southland-based marketing agency executing a rebrand at the same time of putting the magazine to print. Formerly known as Market South, Naked Creative represents a new chapter in the marketing studio’s journey.
Naked Creative director Carla Forbes says the agency’s rebrand, which reflects its approach to stripping things back to reveal the heart of a business, was similar to what The Life does with its stories.
“The Life is authentic storytelling that brings to light the people who don’t typically share their successes – they’re usually busy keeping on doing their thing – but what we want to do is take a moment for pause and celebrate these moments with everyone,” she says.
“Our stories celebrate people for who they are; sometimes we’re a little busy and forget to do this for ourselves.”
Marking the second year of widening its coverage to encapsulate Otago, The Life has the lowdown on the best spots to check out and shop local. Features on luxury lodges for weekend escapes, perfect hot pool spots, stunning Central Otago wineries and delicious recipes from local chefs and eateries are just some of the many stories waiting to be discovered amongst the pages of the magazine.
The Life edition 9 is on sale now. Check out www.thelife.co.nz/buy#find-a-local-retail-shop to find your nearest retailer.