Kween Kong talks to Oliver Hall about representing South Auckland on Drag Race, bringing Pasifika culture to Sydney WorldPride, and moving back to Aotearoa.

“I think this season was great. I feel like we’ve definitely redeemed the franchise,” Kween Kong tells us with a beaming smile. She is on Zoom from her home in Melbourne.

It’s the day after the notorious night out with her fellow finalists, that was meant to be dinner and finished at four in the morning. Unlike Spankie who is still in bed when we speak, Kong was up at 8am doing the school run – or as she puts it ‘Guncle duties’, dropping her sister’s kids off, which she tells us, she ‘loves!’


While Melbourne is now home, and her mother and sister have moved there to join her, it feels like Kong’s heart is still based in Aotearoa, where she was raised.

“Now when I look at South Auckland, I appreciate all the things about it. Especially at the time I was growing up, the media would always pick on where we were from. South Auckland got a lot of flack, for being low socioeconomic and having low-decile schools. But I really attribute my creativity and humility to where I came from. I had nothing growing up but my imagination. I lived in my dream space, going ‘this is what I want!’ I couldn’t see it on TV, but I knew what I wanted to be and I hoped that one day I’d be able to get out and make it happen,” she explains.

Securing her spot on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under cemented the hopes and dreams of Kong’s childhood.

“Within our Pacific communities, because of religion (which is obviously brought to us by the missionaries) the conversation around gender and sexuality it’s still very stifled. Homophobia is indoctrinated, so getting on a TV show like RuPaul’s Drag Race was really exciting for the five-year-old version of myself, that was longing to see a flat-footed, big wide nostrilled Samoan/Tongan drag queen or queer person on stage. I’m hoping that the example of what I’ve done on the show, can give young Pasifika queer people peace of mind to know that it is possible. That we exist,” she says.

Kong tells us she was pleased with her edit on the show but had concerns, prior to filming, about whether a non-POC production team would understand what she represented. Luckily the Drag Race Down Under producers listened and took note of Kong’s request.

“One of the things I was worried about was being edited by a group of non-POC people who didn’t necessarily know how to touch on some of those big conversations that we had spoken about because they didn’t have the lived experience. It was one of the things that I had requested, and they took that on board and employed a team of POC consultants and producers to sit in the room and make sure that it was sound and spoke to the communities that I represent,” she explains.

This brings us to Season Three of Drag Race Down Under (which is yet to be confirmed), and who Kong would like to see joining the cast.

“I want to see more than just one person of colour,” she says frankly reflecting on her experience. “I want to see more POC queens and better representation of the activists who are trying to activate spaces so that we are not the only POC in the room. Not just as performers, but as leaders, producers, and the people making decisions!” 

It’s an unsurprising answer from a queen who has built her career on amplifying POC voices. Now, in part thanks to the platform Drag Race has given her, Kween Kong is bringing her message to the whole world.

“One of the shows that I’m curating at the moment is called Cloud Village and will premiere at Sydney WorldPride 2023. It’s going to be next level!” She tells us.

2023 will be the first time WorldPride has ever been held in the southern hemisphere and will expand the Mardi Gras festival tenfold – giving more opportunities and platforms to LGBTQ+ performers and activists from all over Australia and New Zealand. 

“I’m helping curate the First Nations program at Sydney WorldPride. I’m super excited, not only for New Zealand and Australia to be celebrated but to have like-minded people from across our queer community and around the world, to be in the same space, watching shows that we don’t often get to see, having conversations that we don’t necessarily get to have face to face, and just, embracing our communities,” Kween Kong tells us proudly. 

WorldPride will be a full circle moment for the child from South Auckland who dreamed of seeing queer Pasifika celebrated.

“My big plan was always to go out and see, experience, and learn as much as possible. Then bring all that wealth of knowledge back so we can activate spaces and pioneer excellence,” Kween Kong tells us, acknowledging the significance of realising her dreams.

However to truly complete the circle would mean returning to our shores to live and share her wisdom. “Maybe it’s on the cards,” she acknowledges. “I would like to do that back where I started. Probably in Mangere (South Auckland). It’s a talent centre which has gotten better every time I come home.”

Kween Kong will be part of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Tour which will hit Auckland on Thursday 20 and Wellington on Friday 21 October. For tickets visit

Photo | Jason Winston.