Faka'osilea was born Lorris Bristow and given by her parents to her mother's childless sister and her husband to raise. She was brought up at Ngaruawahia, center of the Maori King Movement, but as a very light-skinned child she was subjected to racial abuse by both white and Maori children.
She learned Maori after marrying her first husband, most of whose family were monoglot Maori, and Tongan, from her second husband, then a monoglot Tongan. They emigrated to Australia about 1984, where she has become president of the Queensland Maori Council and a Maori language broadcaster.
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