Te-henua-e-noho. There once was an island.

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, January 27th, 2010 - 29 comments
Categories: climate change, film - Tags:

Today my partner Lyn Collie will be at the world premiere at Festival International du Film Documentaire Oceanien in Tahiti of the documentary that she has been producing part-time all the time I’ve known her. My congratulations to both her, the director Briar March,  and the many other people who have worked on this documentary since they started working on it in 2006 for getting it out and being seen.

Their website1 describes the documentary as being about:

What if your community had to decide whether to leave their homeland forever and there was no help available?

This is the reality for the culturally unique Polynesian community of Takuu, a tiny low-lying atoll in the South Western Pacific. As a terrifying tidal flood rips through their already damaged home, the Takuu community experiences the devastating effects of climate change first hand.

Like many coral structures worldwide the Takuu atoll probably3 has issues with coral bleaching which means that the atoll isn’t growing. More frequent and larger storm surges are causing an increase in the numbers of king tides that cause flooding on the atoll. The relatively few centimeters of sea level rise that have already occurred in the last century are affecting the viability of being able to grow crops as it threatens the fresh water ‘bubble’ under the atoll.

All of these effects are devastating to the ecology of an atoll that only rises a meter3 above the sea at its peak. Consequently the community on Takuu, which has been there for at least 1000 years3, is now at risk. These are effects that are influenced or caused by anthropogenic climate change induced by the industrialized nations and their addiction to burning fossilized carbon. The effects impact most strongly on the cultures and societies that have had virtually no part in creating the problem.

The documentary focuses on the effect on a community that is having to look at resettling in war-torn Bougainville. This has been planned by the essentially bankrupt2 government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. But to date it hasn’t happened. Takuu is likely to be merely the first of many places having refugees from climate change effects.

There has been an immense struggle by Briar and Lyn to make the film part-time on extremely limited finances and major amounts of time donated by many people. However virtually none of those constraints show in the final result. Despite the number of times I’ve seen it, it still seems like a hell of a good documentary.

Look for it coming to a festival near you. And Lyn – have fun today.

Updated: Lyn corrected me3.

Update: They won the Grand Prix (the major prize) at FIFO. It is a great documentary..

Update: Lyn was on Nightline tonight. So I’m going to stick this to the top of the posts until the morning. I think its needs more time at the top and both she and the film looked great.

  1. The new website is running on the same server as The Standard. Luke did a great job of making this. However it just changed over at the domain name server from the old site last night, so some people may get the old site.
  2. Lyn was trying to get to Takuu to show the documentary in December and January. The only boat that sails there on a regular service wasn’t sailing because it is likely3 that the government hadn’t paid the crew for about six months.
  3. Lyn corrected me on several points. I’ve updated the post accordingly.

29 comments on “Te-henua-e-noho. There once was an island.”

  1. BLiP 1

    Congratulations to all concerned. Where and when can we see it here?

  2. Morgan 2

    Kudos to all involved.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Looking forward to it. This is great achievement considering how limited the resources were.. congrats to Lyn.

    • lprent 3.1

      The whole crew and all of the supporting companies have been pretty amazing as well. Briars photography and direction are just superb. Probably why she is now a poorish student doing a Fulbright at Stanford at present :twisted:.

      The last few months, Lyn has been burning the Skype to the US. Damn good thing, the phone bills would be bankrupting. Fortunately while Briar won’t be able to get to FIFO, she will be able to get the US Premiere at Big Sky next month.

      But I have to say that I’d never have believed that they would have been able to get a film together largely shot in PNG for so damn little.

  4. Meg 4

    The trailer looks stunning. very well put together and absolutely pulls on your heart strings and conscience. Congrats (new) Lyn and good on you for putting it up (grey) Lynn 😛

    • lprent 4.1

      Hah! I earned those grey hairs the hard way. Mind you, Lyn is starting to get a few as well – all those post-production glitches.

      Just think that you’ll have them in a few years as well….

  5. Lyn Collie 5

    Thanks for this and the comments thus far…

    Some slight corrections:

    We don’t know that coral bleaching is occurring on the atoll.

    I’m not sure exactly why the boat hasn’t been going – there’s doubtless a financial component but exactly what this is is not clear.

    The atoll is about 1 metre above sealevel – not several.

    We were recently informed that the atoll has been inhabited for over 1000 years.

    I’ll be blogging at http://takuufilm.blogspot.com after the premiere this evening – you can get links to this and updates including a twitter feed from our website.

    Thanks 🙂

    [lprent: Changed your link so it is clickable. ]

    • lprent 5.1

      Ok, I was doing most of this from memory of various discussions and largely to surprise you..

      But I’d take a bet from the bits in the film about erosion that the coral is having growth issues associated with coral bleaching.

      The new website looks great, and is up to date. Having fun?

      • lukas 5.1.1

        bit like the IPCC report huh? 😛

        • lprent

          You mean a couple of paragraphs in thousands of pages in AR4 on glaciers in the Himalayas. Basically I think that you’re saying you prefer to misunderstand science rather than making an effort to learn.

          You’re just a lazy fruit-loop.

          • Lukas

            sheesh… someone is a bit defensive!

            notice the smiley?

            • lprent

              Not defensive. Just annoyed with persistent idiocy.

              Reminds me of people like Poneke who apparently prefers to believe that it it is impossible for scientists to make errors and instead likes to think that there is a vast global conspiracy amongst earth scientists.

              Now I’m not even a scientist and you’re expecting me to get things right first shot around on something I’m not even an expert on. Lyn has spent years getting to grips with the issues of this atoll. I haven’t.

              Of course if you want to know about the wonders and deficiencies of WPF and ClickOnce, then I can be pretty damn precise. 😈

              BTW: good identicon – why don’t you use that all of the time?

              • lukas

                BTW: good identicon why don’t you use that all of the time?

                All depends on what PC I am on and what browser I am using… at present switching between firefox and chrome to communicate with suppliers who are too stupid to install skype.

              • lprent

                All you have to do is use the same e-mail address when posting comments.

                Skype is kind of essential these days. My parents are lost when they can’t see my brothers kids in Abu Dhabi (or one of those UAE countries)

            • Lukas

              ahh, different email address used with the different browsers when posting here.

              Yeah, Skype is essential for my job, without it I would have either a very expensive phone bill or ridiculous response times from suppliers in the states and China

          • zelda

            One paragraph?. The AR4 is littered with WWF references.

            As well as such Journals as ‘Event Management’

            Jones, B., D. Scott and H. Abi Khaled, 2006: Implications of climate change for outdoor event planning: a case study of three special events in Canada’s National Capital region. Event Management, 10, 63-76.

            But that is beside the point here. The inhabitants of this unique culture need some support as the existing sea level rise threatens their homeland

  6. Looks good but is suffering from one major flaw of too many documentaries these days. Subtitling people who speak English with an accent. Really bugs me for some reason. Seems very condescending.

    • lprent 6.1

      Yeah. But it is something that has to be done for a number of markets that have problems with accents. Mind you I find it hellishly hard to understand many accents of English from the US, the UK, and the largest number of English speakers in the Indian subcontinent.

      You also have to remember that the premiere in Tahiti is going to be subtitled in French. Once you do that, then you may as well subtitle the lot.

  7. lprent 7

    Excellent. Lyn just txted me.

    They won the Grand Prix prize at FIFO….

  8. prism 8

    Terrific news about getting the Grand Prize at Tahiti for the doco.

    • lprent 8.1

      It will be interesting to see what happens at Big Sky – how a US audience sees it.

      Lyn will probably come back tomorrow still ecstatic (and probably hung-over :twisted:)

  9. lprent 9

    The tv3 site is having problems. Otherwise I’d put up the nightline piece.

  10. Pacificfrank 10

    What an honour. This festival is extremely popular in Papeete and the large French expat community hangs out for it every year. I think it must be in its 6th year. NZ film makers have done well and it’s great to see another taking out the Grand Prix.
    The award was reported via the Tahiti Presse site and this link might open up the story and a picture of the presentation with the French High Commissioner on the left and the President of Fr Polynesia on the extreme right. Just shows the prestige of the event.
    The film even pipped the highly successful Topp Twins film “Untouchable Girls” amongst others.
    Well done and félicitations.

    • lprent 10.1

      Cool – thanks for the link. I’ll pass it to Lyn.

      I gathered that FIFO was really big in Tahiti from what Lyn was saying about the reception there.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Aren’t there geological factors at work here?

    Here is a link to a CNN news article that refers to sinking at the rate of 2 metres per year. That sounds a bit to fast even for the most ardent GWA.


    The article states:

    The island has been shrinking significantly from a rise in sea levels due to global warming and movements in the earth’s continental plates.

    Surely the geological effect is by far the greatest here. No disrespect to the population, of course, who undoubtably face a very uncertain future due to the rapid demise of their island. However, it seems to overcooking the cabbage to blame it all on climate change.

  12. lprent 12

    Ts: that was just some speculation. You notice that they didn’t refer to anything, papers, studies, organizations… In fact there was just some unfounded speculation from some time ago that made its way into folklore

    On the last trip over there, Lyn and Briar took over some earth scientists from Aussie to actually do some measurements.

    There is no evidence of tectonic movements. Apart from anything else there isn’t the type of earthquake activity that would be required to move lumps of solid mantle by centrimetres. I do wish some people would start to think about the levels of energy that would be required for their geological fantasies, and how it would express itself.

    But there is extensive erosion on the atoll (which is what the idiot CNN reporter was talking about – 2m horizontal rather than vertical). That is most likely a result of the increased storm surges over the last couple of decades, plus the centrimetres of current sea level rise (probably largely due to thermal expansion).

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