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“There Once was an Island” in theatres this week

Written By: - Date published: 1:57 pm, June 21st, 2011 - 14 comments
Categories: climate change, film, science - Tags:

My producer partner Lyn spent last week extracting herself from Eire where she was showing their documentary and looking at documentaries to bring here. Now she has a theatrical release underway in NZ. If you have missed seeing this to date, then it is well worth watching on the big screen.

Director Briar March and producer Lyn Collie, along with two Australasian earth scientists1 specializing in oceanography and geomorphology looked at the effects of a rising sea levels and changing climate patterns are having on the people of the small Polynesian atoll Takuu in Papua New Guinea.

The islanders are quite aware of the changes in their island and articulate about the issues that they see arising from those. The destruction of their farms and the risk of waves washing through their homes means that they may be one of the first peoples forced off their land by climate change.

The documentary is well worth watching2 and has been picking prizes from festivals worldwide. Besides which it is summer in the film 🙂

Hi everyone

This is a reminder that “There Once was an Island” is opening in New Zealand theatres Thursday this week!  It’s a film that we think is best served up on the big screen, so this is your chance to enjoy it at its most fetching.
For those of you able to attend the Thursday 6pm screening at Rialto Newmarket, I’m doing a Q&A and we also have 20 discounted tickets available.  Adults are $13.50 and kids/seniors $8.50.  If you want to take advantage of this pricing please email takuufilm@gmail.com and we’ll put you down.  Tickets can be collected at the theatre on the night, and you will need to pay cash.  This is a first come first served offer. [Also  here as html]

If you’re not in Auckland or you want to go but can’t make that session, here is a list of the cinemas and locations the film is also screening at.  Have a look online for confirmed screening times:
June 11 – 29
Arthouse Cinema, NEW PLYMOUTH.  To book, call (06) 757 3650

From June 23
Rialto Newmarket, AUCKLAND. To book, call (09) 369 2417

Waiheke Island Community Cinema, WAIHEKE. To book, call (09) 372-4240

Paramount Cinemas, WELLINGTON.  To book, call (04) 384 4080

Gecko Theatre, NELSON.  To book, call (03) 528 9996

Rialto DUNEDIN.  To book, call (03) 474 2200

We hope to have some more special offers later on.

  1. You know, like actual scientists specializing in the area. Ones that measure things to find evidence of what it happening rather than people just making crap up. The number of times I have seen scientifically illiterate idiots sprouting off about the land masses around Takuu rising and falling is unbelievable. What they’re talking about a different area (around the PNG mainland) and a completely different time frame (it’d take hundreds of years rather than decades).
  2. I have seen it far too many times and haven’t (yet) started running screaming whenever I see it.


14 comments on ““There Once was an Island” in theatres this week”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Is the locals’ language quite close to maori ?

    • lprent 1.1

      They were on the extreme edge of the Polynesian expansion to the east (Maori were in the southern expansion) and I suspect the language would have been mixed with quite a lot of Micronesian. I gather that it is a unique language and at a guess I’d say that it is likely to be quite different to Maori (but from the same general language base). Lyn would know, I really don’t.

      However the people in the film mostly speak English.

    • lprent 1.2

      Lyn said (on Facebook) 

      Its Polynesian but not closely related. Richard Moyle may be able to comment further if I remember to ask him…

  2. deemac 2

    I hate to be precious but it is not considered correct to say “Eire” unless you are speaking Irish, the name of the country is (the Republic of) Ireland.

    • lprent 3.1

      Don’t be a total fool Ian.

      Tell me – do you actually know anything about Takuu? Like its actual location and circumstances? How it was formed? For that matter I cannot see anywhere that you have any understanding about the geological processes that cause atolls to form.

      Your last ‘favourite’ link in particular shows your usual complete ignorance of the region Takuu is in. How else can you explain your favourite link about Takuu ? It is a badly written post that appears to be about an unlinked brochure allegedly with the words “dynamite fishing” in Kiribati which has no relationship to an atoll that is 1907 kilometers away. I knew that you lacked perspective these days, but this is a bit ridiculous.

      But you don’t even have to go that far as knowing the location relative to Kiribati. Presumably you haven’t considered the economics of the real Takuu. This is a place with a relatively small population and a whole frigging ocean to catch fish in. They don’t have problems feeding themselves with fish and seafood in a sustainable fashion.

      You dynamite fish when you have close markets so you can sell your excess produce for cash or where you have a very high population to consume the protein almost immediately. That is why almost all of the instances that I have read about sustained dynamite fishing are in the Indian ocean with the vast local populations in a handy shipping distance. In most places it simply isn’t an economic activity. I’m sure that you can find a few cases around atolls, but it really doesn’t make sense for small populations.

      But in either case, you don’t do it in the tropics without refrigeration facilities to store the catch and Takuu has no refrigeration. You also don’t do it when the only ship travels hundreds of kilometers to get there from Bouganville. Particularly the ship turns up when the crew get their backpay from the government – with anytime between 1 month and 6 months between visits. How exactly could they pay for frigging dynamite for your mythical dynamite fishing when they are unable to sell anything?

      The rest of your links consists of the same pathetic mixture of fantasy interspersed with a few irrelevant and unrelated facts and a pile of speculation that isn’t backed with anything substantial. Perhaps you should go and learn some actual science – then you may have more a chance at learning how to be an effective skeptic. At present the only people you’re likely to fool are ACT party members because they’re somewhat credulous about fairy tales.

      I particularly enjoyed reading your little fantasy about land bobbing up and down in decade time spans (without earthquakes – please! Have’t you learnt from Christchurch yet about the energies and stresses involved in land movements?)

      But Lyn and Briar got that theory checked. Now who should people believe? Two earth scientists who went out and looked at the actual evidence at the island. Who measured if the sealevel has been rising or the island sinking?

      Or should people believe some has-been journo and cortegie of scientific illiterates peddling long discredited theories about earth movements and with absolutely no evidence, and who have never travelled even close to the area. Who in fact appears to solely rely on waffle from reporters misreporting the research.

      It is almost three decades since I did my earth sciences degree, and I’d have to say that your kind of theory was then reserved for the crackpots trying to avoid the reality of how the world changes (continental drift).

      For instance look at your link on the expanding islands. The totally obvious question is to ask where the new material is coming from? We’re talking atolls here. They are perched on seamounts with no source of sediment apart from the islands high points and coral. Corals solidify calcium carbonate from the seawater but they grow really really slowly in absolute volume because they are severely constrained by available nutrients.

      You seem to assume that the material came from coral growth. That seems unlikely based on known rates of coral growth. Did the paper look to see if the atolls are eroding in volume and thereby spreading? Which is the usual reason for fast increases in area? That the high points are getting lower and the areas that are really close to sealevel are expanding. Of course it is hard for people to live on sandbanks.

      But alas you link to a news article about a geographer simply looking at satellite photos (and according to a reporter) implicitly claiming things that he cannot know. I guess that is sufficient for a scientifically illiterate hack such as yourself.

      I’d suggest that you go and see the film (because it is obvious that you haven’t let any such radical notion as actually investigating Takuu interfere with your beliefs so far). At least afterwards your delusions may at least be better informed about one atoll and the people who live on it.

      Briar and Lyn aren’t exactly science grads so they haven’t done a film on climate science. But at least (unlike you) they look with an open eye and let the people of the atoll explain what they are seeing in their lives and their work.

      I seem to remember you being capable of doing that type of work once.

  3. ropata 4

    Regrettably Ian, this tangent of yours is a large reason for the decline of your blog.

  4. “It is almost three decades since I did my earth sciences degree”

    I thought they’d already caught the guy who sold you that. Seriously, it should be patently obvious to a Year 4 student that if Takuu’s seas are “rising” by up to 25cm a year, it ain’t carbon dioxide causing it at less than 3mm a year.

    The dynamiting and other reef destruction was done mostly in the decades after WW2 – the island now reaps the harm from that. I think it’s in one of the comments on the various blog links, but I actually spoke to a New Zealander who’d been stationed at Takuu for a little while as part of the UN assistance to the islanders. He explained how the islanders had wrecked the reef protection with the consequence that the main beaches were being hit hard by ocean swells at certain times, and he also explained how the UN had issued a directive to staff and the islanders that they were to stop talking about the other causes and concentrate only on climate change as THE cause.

    It isn’t. It’s sheer human stupidity. Overfishing is another contributing factor – the parrot fish normally help create coral sand that is washed back up onto the beaches. Fewer fish means less coral sand being generated, and broken reefs mean more turbulent wave activity breaching the lagoon and hitting the island, scouring away the sand.

    I’m sure it’s a good movie, but I just about died laughing to see Sunday use it two years ago and call Takuu “the human face of climate change”.

    • lprent 5.1

      …if Takuu’s seas are “rising” by up to 25cm a year…

      Where exactly did that come from? Sounds like yet another typo by a reporter. What is the bet that if you actually source that one back it will wind up as being something that was in exactly one newspaper article, was a mistake, and has been touted by idiots who don’t check their sources across entire net. It is the classic idiots myth making.

      I think it’s in one of the comments on the various blog links, but I actually spoke to a New Zealander who’d been stationed at Takuu for a little while as part of the UN assistance to the islanders.

      Bullshit. Do you realize exactly how small this place is? It’d be like stationing a UN support person in Mangaweka – what in the hell would they do? Collect fossils in the river.

      But you realize that what you have now introduced is classic strawman myth. I heard from someone in a pub who used to know someone whose 2nd cousin said this…. The army used to have this wee exercise that showed how you only have to pass a message through just a few people and it would become total garbage. And that was within a couple of minutes. Imagine what it is over a period of time. Mind you, your relying on this type of stuff is why I regard your recent books as being garbage of little value. They are full of this type of superficial bull.

      What you saw on Sunday was maybe 30 to 60 seconds of shots – you’re basing your view of the film on that? You really don’t get into the detail level at all do you?

      But I guess that time span does seem to be about your effective attention span – at least if it isn’t someone mate telling you a tale that fits your beliefs.

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