Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Mysterious Ways spotlights unexplored spaces of Rainbow community

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Kendall Vano | Reporter

A new independent feature film by documentary-maker Paul Oremland shines a light on a part of the rainbow community story that’s not often told. 

Called ‘Mysterious Ways’, it tells that story of a vicar who wants to marry his Samoan boyfriend in a church. Along the way it explores the political, social and religious ramifications through the lens of a cross-cultural relationhip.

And helping to bring this vision to life is a host of Pacific Islands actors alongside established New Zealand and international stars together with a Pacific Islands producer and production company. 

Making his feature film debut is Nick Afoa who plays ‘Jason’ in the film. No stranger to the stage, having played Simba in various productions of Disney’s Lion King, Afoa says he was moved to accept the role after reading a scene between his character Jason and ‘Aunty’.

“I remember when I first got sent the script and I came across that scene between aunty and jason, and it moved me so much that i went, ‘I need to be in this film’. I know that people will watch this”, Afoa says.

“You’re in for a journey when you watch this movie. You’ll see some amazing Pacific actors on the screen that you might not have seen before. It’s great to see stories that haven’t been told yet, whether they’re about challenges or not.”

Another actor to take his opportunity in his feature film debut is samoan Joe Malu Folau who plays ‘Billy’ in the film.

Reflecting on his decision to join the project, Folau explains, “I think the main thing that attracted me about the story was that they had been working on it for a long time. 

“Paul, he rang me up when I first did my audition and he was talking to me about how it’s been a long time coming in terms of the project. That for me made it concrete in my head that I wanted to do it”

Maureen Fepulai plays ‘Aunty’, she says the story reflects issues many Pacific families often have to wrestle with.

“It’s very humbling for me. This is a topic close to my heart because of family members and loved ones,” she says.

“I grew up very traditional and very much in our church and to represent my loved ones who are trying to understand this was an honour. And it’s very humbling to see the final outcome. I was near tears because of how it was portrayed, so honestly, respectfully, and lovingly.” 

The movie tackles important themes about the rainbow community and how people’s attitudes are both changing and immovable. But at its heart, is a human story about love, life, people and culture.

Afoa sums it up this way, “I think it’s always important to take a walk in someone’s shoes. It’s important to understand all the different walks of life that we have on this planet. And this is an awesome way to do it.”

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