A tropical hilltopview with the ocean at left and a green mountain at right

Welcome to the South Pacific

These short documentary films share personal stories from the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia

Exploring through the power of personal stories

This series delves into Marquesan culture by listening to the stories people want to tell about their lives. From one person to the next, these films explore tradition, colonization, loss, and joy in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia.

Episode One with Debora Kimitete: We visit the sacred site of Koueva on Nuku Hiva, a site dedicated to Debora’s husband, Lucien. He was critical to the resurgence of Marquesan culture, and he disappeared without a trace in an airplane crash in 2002.

Episode Two with Nicolas Haiti: On Nuku Hiva, the Haiti family runs a coconut drying oven that supports the livelihoods of 50 local families. As we watch each step of the process, Nicolas shows us that work, and a sense of home, can be found on the land itself.

Episode Three with Teiki Huukena: From his first tattoo at the age of 14, Teiki has been studying Patutiki (Marquesan tattoo), including the traditional symbols and their correct placement on the body. His own skin is a record of this journey.

Episode Four in Hapatoni: Tehautetua Tauhiro and his family are the cultural guardians of their valley. Through daily activities, art, and music, this generation of leaders demonstrates the power of strengthening culture by sharing it.

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Tour de l’ile: Nuku Hiva

Mar 26, 20192 min read
The planning was pretty simple: a conversation between me, Eric, and our local contacts Debora and Kimi. We had a map, a mango, a dog, and a mission. Nuku Hiva has some spectacular hiking trails, and Kimi would take us to them.   Kimi is a life-of-the-party kind of guy, with a zany photo collection,…
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Exploring the town of Taioha’e

Mar 15, 20192 min read
The landscape of this island, Nuku Hiva, is so extreme it can be hard to find flat ground. That’s why the airport is on the opposite shore from the main town, Taioha’e: there’s only one runway compatible patch of ground. After landing in a small plane, you drive an hour through stunning hills and valleys…
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Getting to know Koueva

Mar 8, 20193 min read
Smoke from burning leaves lifted into the morning sky. Two custodians had arrived before us, though it was still early, to continue the endless work of carving this site out from the surrounding forest. Debora Kimitete explained that the name of this site, Koueva, refers to dancing that begins in the evening and goes right…
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The woman who opened the door

Feb 28, 20192 min read
Debora Kimitete showed us how to slam the car door correctly, so it wouldn’t fly open again. We would spend the day in her Land Rover that has had more adventures than I could ever hope for.   The streets of Taiohae are full of memories for Debora, but an important place to begin was…
Flying over Nuku Hiva

Crossing Nuku Hiva to reach the beginning

Feb 25, 20193 min read
The views from the air were beautiful. When we came here by ship, just over a week ago, it took a day and a half to reach the Marquesas, the most distant archipelago in French Polynesia. Now we would return to the largest island, Nuku Hiva, in a matter of hours.   Before traveling here,…
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Storytelling at Marae Arahurahu

Feb 21, 20193 min read
Guests streamed up the dirt road and wound through trees and flowers to the site of the performance. The bleachers were almost full when we arrived. Dancers and musicians rushed through their final preparations, and then the scene was set. If this place had a roof, they were about to blow it off.   This…