About the Film

About Takuu climate change sea water rising filmWhat 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.

In this verite-style film, three intrepid characters Teloo, Endar and Satty, allow us into their lives and their culture and show us first hand the human impact of an environmental crisis. Two scientists, oceanographer John Hunter and geomorphologist Scott Smithers, investigate the situation with our characters and consider the impact of climate change on communities without access to resources or support. Intimate observational scenes allow Teloo, Endar and Satty to take us on their personal journeys as they consider whether to move to an uncertain future in Bougainville or to stay on Takuu and fight for a different, but equally uncertain, outcome.

This film gives a human face to the direct impacts of climate change in the Pacific, challenging audiences everywhere to consider their own relationship to the earth and the other people on it.

About the Atoll

Film climate change in the PacificTakuu atoll is located about 250km North East of Bougainville and is part of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville which is in turn part of Papua New Guinea.

Takuu is made up of a string of islets on a reef around a central lagoon. The people live on an islet called Nukutoa which has two points, known locally as Taloki and Sialevu. The largest island in the atoll is just next door, and is known as Takuu. This is where the gardens are.

There are a number of clans on Takuu and one paramount chief (Ariki). Everyone on the island is closely related, usually more than once, especially if marriage or “in-law” ties are counted. There are strict rules about who a person can marry, according to clan membership.   Read More …

The Making Of The Film

Briar March and Lyn Collie have been working on There Once was an Island: Te Henua e Nnoho since 2006. Our four-year journey to complete the film has involved contributions from many people and organizations, all pitching in to tell the story of Takuu and the plight of its community as climate change progresses. We have grown as filmmakers and as people through the challenges and opportunities that the project has offered, and are very pleased to finally present Takuu’s story to a wider audience.

Environment refugees in documentary filmWe began making the film after seeing an article about Richard Moyle, an anthropologist who has worked on Takuu every other summer for the last 16 plus years. He mentioned that the atoll appeared to be suffering the first impacts of climate change including salty gardens and coastal erosion. Richard was able to give us permission to make a film about the issue on behalf of the Ariki, or chief, of the atoll.   Read More …