The annual Pasifika Festival is on again in Auckland this weekend, so what better time to celebrate some of our finest screen offerings by and about the Pacific community in New Zealand.
Long-running TVNZ magazine show Tagata Pasifika has been flying the P.I. flag for more than a quarter of a century now, covering all manner of stories about Pacific people and events, including the arts and entertainment community. This Tagata Pasifika Naked Samoans special from 2001 features entertaining interviews and footage from the legendary Pacific comedy troupe's theatre shows. Warning - the content in this one is rather adult.
Formed in 1998, the core actor/creators in The Naked Samoans were Dave Fane, Mario Gaoa, Shimpal Lelisi, Oscar Kightley and Robbie Magasiva. They later took their popular brand of non-PC island humour to the award-winning TV cartoon show bro'Town, which ran for five series.
In this first ever episode, Valea gets run over by a bus and wakes up a genius, in time to bolster St Sylvester's hopes in the national high school Quiz Challenge. The Simpsons-esque celebrity cameos begin with David Tua, Robert Rakete, Scribe, Carol Hirschfeld, and John Campbell.
Members of the Naked Samoans/bro'Town team also made up the cast of hit local movie Sione's Wedding. The film is a feel-good feature comedy about four 30-something guys who must each find a girlfriend before their best friend Sione's wedding - or be left out in the cold.
Through the efforts of these bumbling blokes to get the girl, Sione's Wedding brought to life the colour and humour of New Zealand's urban Samoan community in Auckland. A breakthrough PI-Kiwi film, Sione's Wedding broke box office records when it opened in cinemas throughout New Zealand in March 2006.
Long before the breakthrough commercial success of Sione's Wedding, a pioneering drama series called Tala Pasifika produced a selection of Pacific short films, that were a significant starting point for many screen careers. The six films screened on TV One in 1996, and are now featured on NZ On Screen.
This one, The Cat's Crying, is a haunting piece about a young girl named Ana (former Shortland St star Jaime Passier Armstrong), who asks about a photo in a family album and gets an awkward brush off from her mum. When the family receives news of the tragic death of mum's sister Rose, it's time for truth, and secrets from the past are revealed.
More recently, Pacific stories have also moved into the digital world, with the excellent 20-part web series The Factory. The series evolved from the hit stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre and music group Kila Kokonut Krew.
It's the tale of one South Auckland family, and their love of music, though not everyone in this family agrees which type of music deserves loving the most. A $50,000 talent prize is up for grabs, and the Saumalu family are keen to compete, on behalf of the textile factory where their father and grandfather Tigi work. Tigi wants them to perform a traditional Samoan number. The kids would rather freestyle.
In 2004, Fijian/European director Lala Rolls was inspired by her own background to make the documentary Children of the Migration. Through candid interviews and rare archival footage, the doco tells the stories of the Pacific Island immigrants who came to New Zealand from the 1950s to the 1980s, and changed the cultural landscape of Aotearoa forever. The documentary includes some of the people featured in the other screen works in this selection.