Ngā Tangata o te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa

From the call of a Tahitian kaumatua to help save their language and culture identity by the forming of an Oceania-wide new media fund (Pictured above), to Heperi Mita FIFO winning film “Mereata Mita: How Mum decolonized the Screen” to NITV Australias’ Anusha Duray “Nothing about us without us” and last but not least, FIFO co-founder Walles Kotra assertion “Oceania … exists only because we meet.”

FIFO 17th documentary festival in Papeete Tahiti was a blast. Made even more memorable for the aspirations of indigenous content creators mixing, mingling and exchanging stories from Samoa, Vanuatu, Rarotonga, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Aōtearoa and all over the Pasifika.

2020 Papeete with its homeless people stranded on waterfront parks in full view of massive tourist cruise liners, was as far from the Gaugin painted tableaux of my high school art history lessons as you could get. Markets run by locals are hidden in the back blocks while seaside shops with high glossy shop windows front the main roads.

Invited to take part in this festival courtesy of FIFO 2020 I jumped on the Air Tahiti flight (lovely turquoise plane seats with cushions of yellow, pink, red, lime cushions) not really knowing what to expect. At best, a documentary feast, at worst a chance to enjoy balmy island winds.

Tahiti as a French overseas territory is a long way from Paris but surprisingly, many of the locals I met, talked about Paris like we talk about going to Auckland, despite it being a 23 and a half hour plane ride away. Tahitian and Māori are so similar and I was forever being reminded “E kore au e ngaro te kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea.”

FIFO documentary festival is 17 years old (one year older than Māori TV) founded by Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu now Minister of Culture Polynesia and Walles Karte now Head of Overseas Territories for French Television it has been a labour of love for these two. Now run by an impressive organisation it has gone from strength to strength.

While we were there, the announcments of the nominations of Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley for best picture at the Academy Awards no less was like we won the film lottery, the world of native creatives had well and truly arrived.

With a large, local and enthusiastic documentary loving audience, endless warm weather even with the occassional windstorm and typhoon like rain, this FIFO is simply Pasifika magic.


We, the media of Oceania, assembled in Tahiti for the 14th Oceanian Television Symposium at the 17th FIFO Festival (International Festival for Oceanian documentary Film) make an urgent appeal to the governments of the countries of the South Pacific and members of the Pacific Islands Forum, calling for the establishment of a regional support fund for Oceanian audiovisual and digital creation.

In the face of:

  • Risk of losing of our respective countries’ audiovisual heritage, particularly due to the arrival of international content platforms;
  • Risk of our languages being lost;
  • Risk of a dilution of our identities and values;
  • Difficulties related to the dissemination and sharing of our work throughout Oceania and beyond, due in particular to the additional cost of translation;
  • The tsunami of formatted content that is far removed from our realities;
  • Erosion of our unique heritages due to a tsunami of international information. Furthermore, this fund would:
  • Allow story tellers from Oceania to relate their own stories and cultures, just as the FIFO has enabled them to do so since 2004;
  • Help create, keep talent in our region, and promote them internationally;
  • Respond to the need for digital content that is authentic to Oceania created from trusted sources;
  • Multiply the opportunities for the creation of content;
  • Stimulate excellence;
  • Aid participation in the emergence or consolidation of the audiovisual and digital sectors;
  • Foster the creation of jobs;
  • Contribute to the economic development of our countries;
  • Increase regional and international visibility of Oceanian works and cultures,
  • And participate in the essential mobilisation in the fight against climate change. There is an urgent need to create this regional support fund.

FIFO 2020 celebrates the success of one of this years documentary producers, Chelsea Winstanley (Mereata Mita How Mum Decolonized the World) with her nomination for an Academy Award as the first Native woman producer to attain this achievement.

Oceania has the talent, drive and passion to tell our stories in our own voices – allow us the opportunity to be seen and heard or like the fabled Huia bird we will be lost and our voices forever silenced.

Laurent Corteel (France) Gonzague De la Bourdonnaye (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Patrick Durand Gaillard (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Anusha Duray (Australie) Luc de Saint Sernin (France) Whetu Fala (Nouvelle-Zélande) Bénédicte Gambay (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Guillaume Gérard (Wallis et Futuna) Fabrice Juste (Tahiti) Francis Herman (Vanuatu) Gérard Hoarau (Tahiti)

Walles Kotra (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Faisea Matafeo (Samoa) Mateata Maamaatuaiahutapu (Tahiti) Jeanne Matenga (Cook Island) Teva Pambrum (Wallis et Futuna) Samantha Reynaud (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Stephen Stehlin (Nouvelle-Zélande) Stella Taaroamea (Tahiti) Norbert Taofifenua (Wallis et Futuna) John Utanga (Nouvelle-Zélande) Ashley Vindin (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Miriama Bono (Tahiti)

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