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.

Gecko in my hand

The little things

Jun 23, 20181 min read
Arriving to a new place I’m often drawn to the small things. A new landscape, in its entirety, is too overwhelming. I have to take it piece by piece. So this is one of the first encounters I had in French Polynesia once we embarked the National Geographic Orion and headed out into the blue….
Coral atoll with palms

A new start in the Tuamotus

Jun 23, 20181 min read
And now for something completely different! French Polynesia in the Tuamotus. The coral, the palms, the secrets they keep. What stories will we find here? I am listening.
Approaching Apataki atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Scouting mission

Jun 22, 20182 min read
I stood on the deck for a long time last night as we left Pape’ete, Tahiti’s big city. I couldn’t get used to the warm air. After three years visiting the Arctic and Antarctic, I kept waiting for a blast of cold to hit me. I gripped a cardigan thinking that – any minute –…
Dorothy Lubin-Levy at her home in Pape’ete.

First connection

Jun 21, 20182 min read
I wrote Dorothy Lubin-Levy a month and a half ago on Facebook messenger. I didn’t know her, but I wanted to. She was the first person recommended to me, and she wrote back within a couple of days: “I am very honored to find your message. I am looking forward to have a cup of…