Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Marquesan Filmmaker taking his award winning short film to the Māoriland Film Festival

Public Interest Journlaism funded through NZ On Air
Photo: Kendall Vano
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Kendall Vano | Reporter

Winner of the Best Short Film Feature – Fiction award at the FIFO Tahiti Film Festival, Find Where I Belong is the short film debut from actor and co-director Kahuetahi Kaiha. The french polynesian filmmaker shared his excitement at showcasing his work at the Māoriland Film Festival. 

“If I went back in time and told the younger version of myself when I arrived here that I would one day make a movie. And it’s going to be a Marquesison story and that it was going to be screened in the Māoriland film festival. I wouldn’t believe it,” he said.

Kahuetahi is proud of his work and he is excited to see a Marquesan fiction story shown at Maoriland.  

“I came from an island with nothing. You can’t make films. You can’t even use your phone. Coming to New Zealand gave him the platform to make a film,” he jokes. 

The film maker’s earliest interactions into cinema were growing up on Marquesas Islands. 

The short film won the Best Short Film – Fiction award at this years’ FIFO Tahiti. Photo: FIFO Tahiti

“After school I would go over to my aunties house. And she was pirating all the movies off the internet. I would watch all those films after school. I wanted to be an Actor from then on.” 

Kahu would drop himself down on the floor and watch action flicks with mythical heroes the likes of the Matrix and the Marvel films. 

These films sparked a passion for storytelling and led Kahu to become an actor. 

“For a long time I used to write, perform and choreograph polynesian shows, for hotels, resorts and cultural festivals. And that’s really where I got my start.” 

In 2018, he pursued his dream by travelling to Aotearoa for furthering education.

“I came to New Zealand to be an actor and I did acting training, Acting courses and classes and I realised there isn’t a market for polynesian and Marquesisan actors. That got me into writing and directing my first short film.” He said.

Find where I belong is a story set in New Zealand about Elvis, a Polynesian teenager who lives in the streets with his street father John, and his desires to leave the street life to go back to his birth island.

Still from ‘Find Where I Belong’.

Kahuetahi says he owes a lot to his crew.  He pays tribute to Carrisse Utai and Nikki Si’ulepa, who were able to bring him into the community and the PISA people without their support. 

“I’m extremely appreciative of my partner and producer Carrisse for her professionalism and her support from day one,” Kahu adds. 

Kahu owes the opportunity to bring his vision to the screen to Nikki who helped him become a director. He describes the production as an exercise in teaching Kahu how to become a director. 

“I wouldn’t say I directed the film, she taught me how to make the film and I was privileged to have that experience.”   

And it’s thanks to their collaborative effort in Kahuetahi that has inspire more minority filmmakers such as himself. 

“For me, personally the message I want to get across is that you don’t need to be from the majority to be able to shine your voice. I came to this country with no friends and no family. And you can go to the extremes of knowing nobody to build a platform that allows your voice to shine.”

“I want to leave people thinking they can make a film. That they can make a better film than me in a positive way. But they can look at my film and they can make a better one especially the minorities, Pacific peoples, Māori people so we can all push ourselves in a healthy way.” 

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