Having completed a Masters of Arts at The University of Auckland, Marina Alofagia McCartney earned acclaim for her film Milk & Honey, which gave a Pasifika perspective on the infamous dawn raids of the 1970s. The film was selected for the 2012 NZ International Film Festival. It followed her previous 2010 film Granda, about a young Samoan man connecting with his grandfather. The former Miss New Zealand is one of the directors of 2019 feature film Vai, which was invited to the Berlin Film Festival. The drama is set across the Pacific Islands, with eight stories from one woman's life each directed by a different woman.
...I hope that I have made a film that Pasifika feel serves them well, but one which encourages empathy from others. Marina McCartney on her short film Milk & Honey, The Big Idea, 2 August 2012
Feature film Vai ranges across the Pacific — from an eight-year-old girl's drama-filled day in Fiji, to a sacred moment in an Aotearoa forest. The film follows a similiar collaborative filmmaking model to Waru (2017), only this time the link between each story is a female one. Many of the stories are also connected by water (vai). Vai premiered at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. The nine Pasifika women filmmakers are Sharon and Nicole Whippy, Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumua, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Mīria George, 'Ofa-ki Guttenbeil-Likiliki and Marina Alofagia McCartney.
During the Dawn Raids of the mid 1970s, police systematically raided the homes and workplaces of suspected Pacific Island overstayers. Milk & Honey follows one such raid, as a pregnant Samoan woman (Nora Aati) is taken into custody by two police officers. Despite assurances of a misunderstanding, she is denied a call to her husband. This does not sit well with Constable Salevao (Robbie Magasiva). Made as part of director Marina McCartney’s Masters in Screen Production at Auckland University, it was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2012 NZ International Film Festival.
When Robert meets his Samoan grandfather ('Granda') for the first time, things are awkward. He can't say Robert's name properly, and makes "rude" noises when he eats. Director Marina Alofagia McCartney's first short film is a gentle tale about reaching out across generations and culture. It focusses on Robert (Kahukura Royal) as his first impression thaws, and affection grows. In 2010 Granda was named audience favourite at Pollywood, a Kiwi festival for Pasifika Films. McCartney's follow-up Milk & Honey was nominated for Best Short at the 2012 NZ International Film Festival.