“Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka” Update

“Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka,” a documentary on climate change, the South Pacific, and two daughters coming home, has recently had an update.  The film is in the final stages of editing, composing the film score, and retelling the story in some new and surprising ways! Tony and Grammy award winning music producer Todd Sickafoose is working to compose an original score.

In the meantime the short film, Our Atoll Speaks (KO TALATALA MAI TŌ MĀTOU WENUA) continues to move audiences around the world.


In May 2019 the film had its red carpet world premiere in Pukapuka. To view the fun photos from Brian Opo and Kole Tinga click here. The film then traveled to the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in Aotearoa and was highlighted on Maori Television.

Throughout the summer it traveled through New Zealand with the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF). Last August the film opened the Te Tuki Airani Film Festival in Rarotonga, Cook Islands and also aired on Cook Islands Television. At the end of the year the Pollywood Pasifika Film Festival screened the film multiple times in communities in Auckland and Mangere, NZ.

In November the film fabulously premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF). The film also screened at schools in Oahu and Kauai as part of the HIFF educational program. The filmmakers want to thank film critic Mark Schilling from the Japan Times for highlighting our film in his final review of the festival. The film also showed on all Hawaiian Airlines flights from October 2019-January 2020!

The filmmakers are now preparing to celebrate the European premiere of the Our Atoll at SECIME in Spain. For this editor Kyung Lee and Gemma have subtitled the beautiful narration into Spanish so we can take the film to Spanish-speaking audiences!


As a final highlight Our Atoll Speaks will premiere in San Francisco at the International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco in March. The film will be receiving the 2020 Coastal Culture Award after the film screening on March 14th at 7pm in the Cowell Theater in San Francisco. Come join us if you can!  We dedicate the award to Pukapuka and all the Wales (Pukapukans) around the world.

At the end of March the film will travel to Miami to be part of the educational conference CIES 2020 Miami Education Beyond the Human. The filmmakers also hope for funding to build a website and an educational campaign to take the film into schools. In 2020 they will await news about an Australian premiere and other festivals. So much more to come!

Like it on Facebook – http://facebook.com/HomecomingDoc

Follow it on Twitter – http://twitter.com/HomecomingDoc

Visit the Official Website – http://www.talcualfilms.com/

Share Successful Kickstarter Campaign – http://bit.ly/homecomingdoc

Purchase Miss Ulysses – http://bit.ly/Puka-Puka

Purchase Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas

Both books Miss Ulysses and Mr. Moonlight can also be found on the Dockside Sailing Press Website.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientists Look to Hawaiian Chants

An interesting article was recently posted on the Hawaii Tribune Herald site by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) about how scientists are looking to Hawaiian chants for mention of past crater lakes.

The Halema‘uma‘u crater lake at the summit of Kilauea Volcano is on everyone’s mind at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). This is the first lake of groundwater observed on the crater floor in nearly 200 years. So they looked to Hawaiian chants for mention of a crater lake before western contact and whether it was associated with explosive eruptions.

To their knowledge, a lake is not mentioned explicitly, but Hawaiians did tell a few stories where Pelehonuamea faced the threat of water drowning her volcanic fires at Kilauea. A few are briefly recounted here.


Halema‘uma‘u crater, photo from flikr.com

Pele and her older sister Namakaokaha‘i, the eldest in a family of many siblings, were imbued with different powers — Pele reigned over volcanoes and eruptions; Namakaokaha‘i ruled the seas and beaches.

Namaka, as she is known to friends, hated when Pele spread lava over beaches and intruded land into the ocean. Pele didn’t appreciate Namaka trying to remove lava from the coasts. They fought frequently. We see these two sisters continuing to fight with spectacular explosive displays each time lava enters the ocean.

Another Pele story involving water features Kamapua‘a, the pig deity from Oahu, who traveled to Kilauea to woo Pele and take her for his wife. Pele persistently spurned his advances, insulting him and even tried to kill him. Kamapua‘a’s infatuation turned into anger, and the pig-man flooded Pele’s crater with water to put out her volcanic fires.

Fortunately, Pele’s brother hid her firesticks and used them to reignite the volcanic flames. Some versions of this story describe Pele chasing Kamapua‘a to the sea as either a lava flow or ejected hot rocks; other versions resolve the conflict in a brief marriage.

A better-known story is the saga of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele, Pele’s youngest sister. It’s a long story mostly focused on Hi‘iaka’s journey from Kilauea Crater to Kauai to retrieve Pele’s lover, Lohi‘au. Along the way, Hi‘iaka developed into a powerful woman. The journey was long, and Pele became suspicious that Lohi‘au was being unfaithful to her.

When Hi‘iaka arrived at the Kilauea Crater rim with her new husband, Lohi‘au, Pele was incensed and ordered her siblings to kill him as punishment. This enraged Hi‘iaka and she decided to retrieve Lohi‘au’s spirit to revive him, and to seek revenge and destroy Pele by flooding Kilauea Crater with water.

Hi‘iaka jumped down to the crater floor, and not finding the spirit of her husband, stomped her feet. “The entire crater of Kilauea was rocked and the cliff walls of Uekahuna trembled” (from “The Epic Tale of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele” translated by Nogelmeier) and the first layer of Kilauea cracked open. She looked down, but still not seeing her husband, she stomped again. She continued stomping through several layers without finding her husband’s spirit.

The described effects of Hi‘iaka repeatedly stomping to get deeper beneath the crater floor are eerily like the continuous strong shaking of the 2018 collapse events.

Hi‘iaka finally got down to the fifth layer that was holding back water, which, if released, would rise and flood the crater, turning Kilauea into a lake and putting out Pele’s fires forever. At the last instant, Hi‘iaka was dissuaded from her destructive task and reconciled with her sister. 


Hi‘iaka was seeking groundwater like that which appears in Halema‘uma‘u today. Geophysical studies over the past 30-40 years showed the presence of a water table, elevated about 600-800 m (2,000-2,600 ft) above sea level, beneath the caldera floor. HVO scientists hypothesize that the currently growing lake is an exposure of this groundwater returning to its former level following the 2018 summit collapse. It is only visible to us because of the deep pit formed by that collapse.

HVO geologists think this Hi‘iaka story may have been inspired by an earlier Kilauea caldera collapse about 1500 CE. Although in most versions of the story Kamapua‘a’s deluge didn’t result in explosions and Hi‘iaka never unleashed subterranean water, geologic study of post-collapse explosive deposits suggests at least an intermittent presence of a lake.

These legends are but a few from the rich Hawaiian literature on Pelehonuamea and her volcanoes. Along with geologic studies, they can provide insight to understanding the ever-changing volcanic landscape of Kilauea Volcano.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vanuatu to Stake Claim Over Bungy Rights

Radio New Zealand ran an interesting article about how AJ Hackett, an international bungy jumping company,  should negotiate with people in Vanuatu to compensate them for the successful business he has built on the back of the centuries-old tradition of bungy jumping.

On Pentecost Island, one of the 83 islands that make up Vanuatu, “land divers” tie vines around their ankles before leaping from a 10-meter platform. The traditional practice goes back centuries, and AJ Hackett’s website credits it as the origin of bungy jumping.

The Vanuatu parliament in Port Vila is now considering a bill to protect their people’s traditional knowledge and culture, and help them benefit from commercial uses of it – and specifically names bungy jumping.

Wellington indigenous intellectual property law expert Lynell Tuffery Huria told Summer Report now is the time for AJ Hackett to do the right thing, and start a dialogue with the people of Pentecost Island. She said the driving force behind the act is that Vanuatu people want some recognition of their traditional knowledge and traditional rights and to get compensation for this knowledge, which they have shared freely.

Under the act a board would be established that people would apply to if they wanted to use traditional knowledge and they would negotiate with the owners for an appropriate level of compensation.

The law would only apply within Vanuatu and the lines were blurred on how it could be enforced against operators such as AJ Hackett, Tuffery Huria said. “I think what they’re trying to do is send a signal to people who go into Vanuatu – you cannot take our traditional knowledge without our permission. It’s staking a claim, setting a standard for their people and protecting their people.”

New legislation progressed slowly in Vanuatu so it could be some time before it becomes a reality but it was a revolutionary piece of legislation of a kind that is increasingly coming into force among indigenous nations around the world.

Tuffery Huria said that while she didn’t want to speculate on how AJ Hackett would respond, “…he could engage in some sort of negotiation with the people of Pentecost to determine some sort of benefit agreement and that’s something that they’ve proposed in this new bill…

“There would be a sharing of any benefits you gain from use of their traditional knowledge.”

AJ Hackett has yet to respond to RNZ questions about the Vanuatu issue around copyright. The AJ Hackett Bungy website acknowledges that the Pentecost divers in Vanuatu are a part of bungy’s origins. The website says “bungy has always been a life-changing experience. It begins with a small group of people in Vanuatu”.


Photo from allaboutvanuatu.com


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Prison Songs of Lili‘uokalani

Last week the Hawaii Herald Tribune ran an interesting article about how the Lyman Museum in Hilo, Hawaii showcased the prison songs of Queen Lili’uokalani during a one-day exhibition on February 4.


Photo from Lyman Museum

For more than a century, the original manuscripts to seven of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s original songs have been kept under lock and key at the Hawaii State Archives. Musicologist Cynthia Morris finally brought to light these poignant songs, composed by Lili‘uokalani during her incarceration at ‘Iolani Palace from February to September 1895.

Her prison songs stand as important contemporaneous testimonials, composed in the midst of turbulence and upheaval — songs of resistance, hope, spiritual protest, and subversion. These songs also provided a rare glimpse into the life and perspective of a queen who was dethroned and imprisoned, yet able to communicate with and inspire her subjects by way of her compositions.

Queen Liliuokalani was convicted of having knowledge of a royalist plot, and was fined – she was sentenced to five years in prison and hard labor – although it was later reduced. Instead she imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace and was denied any visitors other than one lady in waiting.

Queen Liliuokalani spent her days reading, quilting, crochet-work, as well as composing music. She wrote approximately 165 songs. Only two of the seven songs she wrote in prison, “The Queen’s Prayer,” and “Ku’u Pua i Paoakalani” have been published.


The Lyman Museum, photo by wornthrough.com

The Lyman Museum began as the Lyman Mission House, originally built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1839.  Nearly 100 eventful years later, in 1931, the Museum was established by their descendants.  Today, the restored Mission House is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and may be visited by guided tour.

Throughout the year, the Lyman Museum offers a wide range of educational programs from special lectures and talks to hands-on workshops on Hawaiian skills and crafts.  The Museum also hosts school and group tours throughout the year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pacific Language Fund Launched in New Zealand

Another interesting news item from the Pacific that was posted late last year was an article on the Radio New Zealand site about how the New Zealand government had launched an innovation fund aimed at promoting Pacific languages in the country.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said the government was telling Pasifika communities that their languages mattered. The fund is designed for community groups who will be able to apply for grants of up to $5000 during a 12-month pilot period.

Mr Sio said the fund was part of the $20 million allocation for Pacific languages that was announced in the Budget. It was targeting initiatives that supported and increased awareness around the value of Pacific languages and grew the number of speakers of the various tongues.

The support came after consultations with the local Pasifika community and was an acknowledgement of both how important and fragile Pacific languages were. “The 60 percent who are born in New Zealand, said to me that languages were very vital for their sense of belonging, their own sense of identity. So that first and foremost was one of the reasons why it was one of our key goals under Lalanga Fou – thriving Pacific languages and cultures,” he said.

Mr Sio said he hoped the fund would help people recognize the power of multilingualism. There were economic advantages for people who could speak more than one language, he said, and this was backed up by research from Auckland University’s Professor Stephen May, from the School of Maori and Indigenous Education. He said, “Bilingual in any combination provides cognitive, educational and social advantage and he says in terms of the future, monolingualism is a disadvantage, that the new power-brokers will be multilingual speakers, with English as one of them.”

Mr Sio said the asset of multilingualism had never been seen as something to be valued in the past and that needed to change. Pasifika communities were well-positioned to grasp these increasing opportunities in the digital era.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples was also establishing a dedicated Pacific Language Unit. The ministry holds seven Pacific Language weeks every year to maintain and promote heritage languages.


Honiara, Solomon Islands

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Jealous Wife” (Hawaii)

Perhaps, you’ve noticed that we haven’t posted a legend in awhile on this outlet. We took some time off because our artist, Tara Bonvillain, had a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Congrats! But, now she’s back to a routine and took some time to illustrate our first legend of 2020. This story comes from Hawaii and it’s about  our favorite goddess, the fiery Pele. Have you ever wondered how Pele decided to live on the Big Island of Hawaii? Well, read on! The legend comes from the book, Tales Told in Hawaii. Enjoy!

The Jealous Wife

When Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, was in search of her husband who had run away with a woman form the heavens, she came to the land where Aukele lived. Aukele was so charmed with the beauty of Pele that he pretended to his wife, Nama, that he went fishing every day, when in truth he was with Pele and her sister, Hiiaka.

At last Nama got tired of hearing the excuses of her husband and cried, “Say, cunning, do you think I’m a fool?” She was so angry she drove Pele toward the Hawaiian Islands.

The Jealous Wife (Hawaii)

“The Jealous Wife,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2020.

Pele sought refuge on the island of Kauai. No sooner had she started her fires than Nama drove her to Oahu. Pele found Oahu too shallow, so she moved to Molokai. On Molokai she struck water and moved to Haleakala, Maui. She was about to give up her home there because it was too large a place to heat. When the jealous wife spied her glowing fires, she came and fought and killed Pele.

Pele’s spirit escaped to the island of Hawaii where she dug a pit in Kilauea, and there she lives to this day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RNZ Celebrates 30 Years of Pacific Islands News

Since I often use Radio New Zealand to share news about the Pacific Islands, I was delighted to hear that last week on January 24 marked the 30-year anniversary of RNZ Pacific, formerly called RNZ International.

On 24 January 1990, Radio New Zealand International beamed into the Pacific, on a new 100 kilowatt transmitter. New Zealand has had a short-wave service to the Pacific since 1948. The station broadcast on two 7.5kw transmitters from Titahi Bay, which had been left behind by the US military after the Second World War.


Rainbow over Tuvalu

In the late 1980s, following growing political pressure to take a more active role in the Pacific area, the New Zealand government upgraded the service. A new 100kw transmitter was installed and, on the same day the Commonwealth Games opened in Auckland, the service was re-launched as Radio New Zealand International.

“What we were able to understand was how important radio was and still is in the Pacific, where as here radio had become a second cousin to television… different thing in most of the countries we worked with,” said RNZ International’s first manager Ian Johnstone, from 1990 to ’93. Mr Johnstone said news of a dedicated Pacific service into the region was welcomed by Pacific communities. He also said it was important for New Zealanders to remember that New Zealand was part of the Pacific. “One of the nice things is we say we are part of the Pacific, we are the southern corner of Polynesia, and let’s remember that.”

Linden Clark was manager from 1994 to 2016. She said the strength of the service had been its connection with Pacific people in New Zealand and the region. “The history of of RNZI – RNZ Pacific – is absolutely marked by fantastic contributions from a whole range of people – not only employed people – but those who have given their time in all sorts of ways – both of the Pacific region and the Pacific communities here in New Zealand. “That is the history of the station and I think that’s partly why it means so much to everybody who has had something to do with it.”

She said RNZ Pacific had built strong relationships over the years. “We have always been about trying to support and partner with those Pacific media, radio stations, individuals and journalists, rather than broadcast and talk to them. We want to talk with them and use their expertise and develop that and that’s been really satisfying.”

Adrian Sainsbury, who’s RNZ Pacific’s frequency manager, said in the early days, it was difficult to get Pacific stations to take bulletins as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio Australia was the dominant broadcaster in the Pacific. “And we built up, over time an extensive network. And as I say, from a handful, of possibly two or three, we are now right up to 20 now, across the Pacific, stretching right up to Micronesia,” he said.

Sainsbury said RNZ Pacific was now the only dedicated Pacific broadcast service on short-wave across the region.

The signal can sometimes be heard as far away as Japan, North America, the Middle East and Europe.

Thirty years later the service has developed and established itself as the region’s most comprehensive and reliable source of regional news and is relayed daily by over twenty Pacific radio stations. It broadcasts on a range of platforms including analogue and digital short-wave, satellite, and online and has an estimated audience of 1.8 million people in the Pacific. The RNZ Pacific website attracted nearly eight million pageviews in 2019.


Rainbow over Samoa

I encourage you to read the entire article by clicking here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment