Screened as part of NZIFF 2020

Tupaia’s Endeavour 2020

Directed by Lala Rolls Widescreen

Lala Rolls’ fascinating quest to examine what happens to a Tahitian high priest and navigator when he travels across the pacific – and further on towards England as a translator and guest (or is it as a living trophy?) – aboard Captain James Cook’s HMS Endeavour.

Aotearoa New Zealand In English, French, Tahitian and Te reo Māori with English subtitles
119 minutes VOD




David Paul


Riki Gooch
Stephen Gallagher


Professor Paora Tapsell
Dame Anne Salmond
Anne Iranui McGuire
Taha Natua Manutahi
Nick Tupara
Wayne Ngata

Tuapia's Endeavour is having its World Premiere in cinema at the Roxy Cinema in Wellington, on Saturday 25 July at 5.00PM. See here for details.

This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.

This new feature-length film, re-edited from director Lala Rolls’ earlier Māori TV series, now includes enlightening new material which helps us understand not only Tupaia’s fateful journey, but with astonishing new insight, pre-European Polynesian navigation.

Using a rich array of documentary tools, Rolls freely re-imagines Tupaia’s experience with the help of actor Kirk Torrance as Tupaia. She also weaves in the personal journey of artist Michel Tuffery, who travels to modern day Raiatea following the traces of his own family connections to the historical figure.

With Tuffery, Rolls seeks to pluck Tupaia from the side-lines of history to which he’d been relegated by the British version of Cook’s voyage, and restore him to a rightful place of honour as a guiding force in Cook’s exploration of the Pacific. Along the way, Tupaia’s descendants assert ownership of Tupaia’s personal taonga, which now rest in British museums having been attributed to the collection of Joseph Banks on the Endeavour’s return to London.

Tupaia’s Endeavour retells what we think is a familiar story, but from the point of view of the Pacific people who lived it, and of their contemporary descendants who seek a deeper understanding of their ancestor, and his role in shaping history. — Marten Rabarts

About the Filmmaker
Lala Rolls is a Fijian-born director and editor. Her filmmaking explores Polynesian and Māori culture, most notably in the documentaries Children of the Migration (2004) and Land of My Ancestors (2007), both of which premiered at NZIFF.