It’s Samoan Language Week and Tom Natoealofa says “Talofa!” to kick off Tagata Pasifika's Aotearoa award-nominated coverage of the 2011 Polynesian Blue Pacific Music Awards. Natoealofa co-hosts with Angela Tiatia, from the TelstraClear Pacific (now Vodafone) Events Centre in Manukau. The awards honour everything from gospel to urban. Nesian Mystik take out a trifecta including the big one, and Ladi 6 also wins. In the last clip Annie Crummer picks up a Lifetime Achievement gong, and the Ponsonby Methodist Church Choir perform her song ‘See What Love Can Do’.
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.
Shirley Horrocks' documentary profiles the life, work and influence of pioneering PI writer Albert Wendt (1973's Sons for the Return Home was the first novel published in English by a Samoan). The film accompanies the writer to various locations in the Pacific and addresses his Samoa upbringing, his education in New Zealand and his work as writer and teacher; and discusses the contemporary explosion of Pacific arts. "I belong to Oceania — or, at least, I am rooted in a fertile part of it and it nourishes my spirit, helps to define me, and feeds my imagination."
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.
Acclaimed Director of Photography Leon Narbey has had a hand in many of New Zealand’s best known films. He directed the feature film Illustrious Energy in 1987, and has been the DOP on other major film projects such as Desperate Remedies; The Price of Milk; and the smash hit Whale Rider. More recent films include the Topp Twins doco Untouchable Girls and Samoan language feature The Orator.
A Tagata Pasifika special looking at Pacific Islanders living in a Māori world. It celebrates the mingling of Polynesian cultures in Aotearoa through similarities (language, spirituality, land, extended family) and differences (clothes, food). Stories include: Samoan Beau Rasmussen who married Moana on the East Coast; Niuean Toa Luka who married a Māori woman from Northland; Tongan/Māori lawyer Kahungunu Afeaki and Whetu Fala, who grew up in Wanganui with a Samoan father and Māori mother.
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."
Eteuati Ete was one of the first Samoans to attend drama school Toi Whakaari. After graduating he starred in Le Matau (1984), the earliest contemporary play in the Samoan language. He had also began doing screen work, including narrating Samoan-set film Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree. In 1997 Ete was part of comedy series The Semisis and McPhail and Gadsby; in 2003 he formed comedy duo The Laughing Samoans, with Tofiga Fepulea’i. Mainly a live act, they released multiple concert DVDs, and starred in 2010 series The Laughing Samoans At Large. In 2019 he played father to the hero in movie comedy Brown Boys.
Kiwi-born Samoan Nathaniel Lees began acting on stage in 1975, and on screen in 1984. Since then he has become a leading force in the development of Pacific Island theatre in Aotearoa, and brought his distinctive baritone voice to everything from The Billy T James Show to The Matrix.
Catherine Fitzgerald, ONZM, founded Blueskin Films in 2002, and began producing a run of high profile short films. She was part of the producing team on the Oscar-nominated Two Cars, One Night, and acclaimed Vincent Ward feature Rain of the Children. In 2011 Fitzgerald produced Tusi Tamasese's Samoan-language tale The Orator, which won two awards at the Venice Film Festival. One Thousand Ropes, their second feature together, was invited to debut at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. Fitzgerald has also worked as a script assessor, funding executive and policy advisor.