Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
The children of the Pacific Island families who migrated to New Zealand in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and even 80s have grown up. They have changed the cultural landscape of New Zealand. Their presence has shaped New Zealand’s identity both nationally and internationally as a Pacific Nation. This is a record of the times and trails of these migrant families. With David Sa’ena and Vela Manusaute gently guiding the waka we journey through some of the politics and some of the stories of Pacific Islanders in Aotearoa.
We hear from the famous and the not-so famous. From Tana Umaga to David’s father, Lefau. The stories are told with warmth, humor and with a touch of hard-edged truth. The impetus for this documentary came out of my experiences arriving in this country in 1981 from Fiji. If I, a Fiji born European found it hard, what was it like for other Pacific Islanders? It was a story I wanted to explore. Various conversations with David, Vela and Maurice Newport (researcher/camera assistant), made it a story we wanted to tell. The realization that our elders were getting older made it a story that needed to be told now.
In the process of making this documentary we interviewed over 40 people. In fact it was a very Pacific Island process – often we would end up interviewing friends and relatives who had heard about what we were doing and felt it was so important that they wanted contribute to the story. As a crew we were honored and amazed at the openness and generosity of the people we talked to. Any one story could have been a documentary in itself and, as you can imagine, the editing process was hell – what to leave out? Who to leave out? How to tell one whole story?
The interviews were conducted by Vela, David and myself, but sometimes the best questions and answers came when one of the crew, Simon (camera) Chris (sound) Maurice (camera assistant) and Michelle (producer) would pitch a question. We cried, we laughed and we are proud to present this documentary as an ode to our parents. — Lala Rolls