Samoa

Short Film, 1949 (Full Length)

This 1949 NFU film visits Western Samoa. Director Stanhope Andrews surveys life in the “lotus land of the Pacific”, showing taro and coconut harvest, cooking in umu, and church and fale building, as “the flower-decked girls sing and dance beneath the palms”. The benefits of New Zealand’s then-administration are shown (eg. medical services, education) but the travelogue ignores earlier ignominious acts, such as the quarantine blunder that saw one in five Samoans fall to influenza. The Olemani Aufaipese (choir) provides the score. Samoa won independence in 1962.

1918: Samoa and the Ship of Death (Talune)

Web, 2018 (Excerpts)

A tragic chapter of Samoan and New Zealand history is explored in this Coconet TV documentary. Nearly a quarter of Samoa's population was killed in one month in 1918, after flu sufferers were allowed to disembark the ship Talune in Apia. New Zealand was heavily criticised for not quarantining the vessel. This excerpt shows how the deadly virus spread around the world, killing a third of the population, and explores Aotearoa's colonial interests in Samoa. Interviewees include Oscar Kightley and ex Samoan head of state Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta'isi Efi.

New Streets - Auckland Fa'a-Samoa

Television, 1982 (Full Length)

This 1982 Lookout documentary charts Samoan novelist and poet Albert Wendt’s personal view of Samoans in Auckland. Set mainly in what was then predominantly Samoan Grey Lynn, Wendt looks at how New Zealand-born Samoans maintain the traditions of their homeland. He also examines the close ties between those in New Zealand and the wider ainga, or extended family, back home. The church’s role in the community is highlighted, along with sports. Wendt also addresses what he sees as the double edged sword of remittance: sending money back to islands.

Pictorial Parade No. 122 - Western Samoa Independence Day

Short Film, 1962 (Full Length)

After nearly 50 years living under New Zealand rule, Western Samoa gained its independence on 1 January 1962. Pictorial Parade visits Apia to witness the special occasion. Among the dignitaries taking part in the ceremony are Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Mata'afa Mulinu'u II, joint heads of state Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II, and Kiwi PM Keith Holyoake. The Western Samoa flag is hoisted before the first parliament sits, while hundreds of locals sing and dance in the heat of the day. The country dropped the first part of its name in 1997.

Pictorial Parade No. 120 - Samoan Family

Short Film, 1961 (Full Length)

This 1961 Pictorial Parade visits Western Samoa shortly before it gains independence from Aotearoa. Locals are seen voting in the May referendum, where a huge majority voted for self-rule. Surgeon Ioane Okesene and his large family feature in this newsreel; daughter Karaponi is seen marrying her Kiwi partner Bill McGrath in Apia. (Trivia fact: Rugby legend Michael Jones' mother, Maina Jones, is among the wedding guests.) Western Samoa's close ties to Aotearoa are highlighted, with stories of Samoans moving downunder to study, such as home science student Margaret Stehlin. 

Daughters of the Pacific

Television, 2005 (Full Length)

This 2005 documentary tells the story of four New Zealand-born women whose parents come from villages in Samoa, Tonga and Niue. Social worker and photographer Emily Mafile'o, students and mothers Pule Puletaua and Lanni Liuvaie, and playwright Louise Tu’u face the challenges of combining two cultures to forge an identity in Aotearoa — from family, language, food and religion, to flatting and hair cutting rituals. As narrator Sandra Kailali says, "to be true to both is hard work: success in one often comes at a cost to the other." 

An Immigrant Nation - Searching for Paradise

Television, 1996 (Full Length)

This episode of Immigrant Nation features former Holidaymakers guitarist Pati 'Albert' Umaga, part of the first generation of New Zealand-born Samoans. Umaga's parents arrived in Wellington in 1950 as part of Samoa's Great Migration. Encouraged to speak Samoan at home, and English outside the house, Umaga drifted away from his family and culture, before finally coming to the realisation that Fa-a Samoan - The Samoan Way - has much to offer him in how he operates in Kiwi society. Umaga goes on to use his music as a way to reach Samoan youth.

Loading Docs 2018 - The Crossroads: Le Māgafā

Web, 2018 (Full Length)

In this offering from the Loading Docs series, Kiwi/Samoan hip hop artist Kas Futialo (Tha Feelstyle) journeys back to a place called the Crossroads (Le Māgafā) in Faleasi'u, the Samoan village where as a child he imagined his future. Here four parts of himself — spiritual, cultural, creative and the everyday — meet in the space where the dirt roads merge. The result is more storytelling than documentary, expanding on Futialo's metaphor for life and hip hop. The use of black and white film creates a timeless quality. Director Sani Salanga is also known as hip hop artist Dei Hamo.

The Factory - Series

Web, 2013 (Full Length Episodes)

In this music-heavy web series, a South Auckland family competes in a local talent quest. Alongside battles over  performing the traditional Samoan music favoured by their grandfather, the Saumalus have to deal with a dodgy competitor and some last minute changes of tune. There's also romance, heartbreak, and a shifty Palagi factory boss. The final episode (of 20) features behind the scenes bloopers. Directed by music video veteran Joe Lonie, The Factory began as a highly successful stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew.

The Orator - O Le Tulafale

Film, 2011 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Tusi Tamasese’s first feature tells the story of a taro farmer (played by real life farmer Fa’afiaula Sagote) who finds the courage to stand tall for his family and culture, and stand up to sceptical villagers. Variety called it “compelling drama”. Though previous films (e.g. Flying Fox on a Freedom Tree) had told stories inspired by Samoan writers, The Orator was the first feature written and directed by a Samoan — and the first filmed in Samoan. When it debuted in September 2011 at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, it won a special jury mention in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) section.