Tialata was born in Lower Hutt but moved, when he was one, to American Samoa with his parents who were undergoing religious training in Kanana Fou Theological Seminary. The family returned to their vocation in New Zealand when Tialata was five with his late mother Sipoutasi, late father Rev. Pelema and sisters. He was the only boy and was the third child out of the four.
His father died after a year of serving at the CCCAS church in Porirua, New Zealand followed by his mother four years after. Tialata and his three sisters now reside with his aunt whom he now calls his mother (Nu'ulopa) and her five children whom Tialata also now considers his brothers and sisters.
Tialata debuted for Wellington in 2003 and was selected for the Hurricanes in 2004. Tialata thrust himself into the All Blacks selection frame as a young prop with his strong play throughout the 2005 season and made his Test debut in the first match of the All Blacks Home Nations tour – against Wales – in November that year. He was dropped from the 2010 Tri Nations squad due to poor form. In 2011, after 8 seasons with the Hurricanes, he signed with Top 14 side Aviron Bayonnais. Formerly a loosehead prop, Tialata now concentrates his efforts on the tighthead side of the scrum but retains the valuable ability to cover both sides