Ayaka was born on the island to a fairly well-to-do couple, and grew up in a neighbourhood south of the Havaiki River. Her parents separated when she was nine; without her father in her life, her mother hadn't the force of personality to control her choices and activities. She got employed at Kahe Mau'u (a favourite haunt) at fourteen, where she got familiar with the Red Lotus employees who passed through during lunch hour, none of whom could resist her natural waitressing charm.
In the end, duty or a desire for an anchor brought her back to her previously vague ambition of getting a degree. She started in hospitality and then transferred into management because she couldn't stand the classes. Then she tried for a job at the hotel of her dreams. Ultimately she thrived because of her dual background (and the connections she had formed), and became its assistant manager.
Part of the reason she made it that far up the management chain, though no one wants to admit it, is her pep and charm, which serve her well in addition to a reasonable work ethic. As a worker, she certainly can't compare to the likes of Kahi, their workhorse HR manager, or the former financial controller and new hotel manager, Peyton. But she's got a flair for public-facing interaction that Peyton could not possibly do without, with their stiff and oftentimes bumbling demeanour.