Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

There Once Was an Island: Te Henua e Nnoho 2010

Directed by Briar March

On Takuu, a tiny low-lying atoll in the south-west Pacific, the impact of climate change is real and immediate. NZer Briar March’s intimate, award-winning portrait of island life makes this confrontation with global crisis a vividly personal one.

Aotearoa New Zealand In English and Tok Pisin with English subtitles
80 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Photography


Lyn Collie
Briar March


Kelly Anderson
Mark Foster

Executive producer

Annie Goldson


Prisca Bouchet
Briar March


Jeffrey Holdaway


Tom Fox
Marshall Smith
Mark Smythe


Faith Endar Adu
Teloo Fakatutufenua
Satty Puaria
John Hunter
Scott Smithers


On Takuu, a tiny low-lying atoll in the south-west Pacific, the impact of climate change can be seen with every rising tide. The sea washes ever further inshore. Salt water invades fresh and devastates the vegetation. Briar March’s film delivers empathetic portraits of three islanders as they respond to the crisis. Some on Takuu see the hand of God in the relentless erosion of their environment, while others pay attention to the analysis and concerned advice of visiting scientists. Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinea government proposes to move the population with its distinct language and Polynesian island culture to the sugar fields of Bougainville. The intimacy of March’s encounters makes this confrontation with a global crisis a vividly personal one. If there’s truth in the claim that people will only begin working to counteract climate change when it affects them personally, then this quiet evocation of a tiny, vital civilisation under siege from the sea that once nurtured it immediately brings that moment closer for anyone who sees it. — BG

“Beautifully filmed, March frames and constructs her shots with the eye of an artist.” — Jacob Powell, The Lumiere Reader

“Go see it.” — Graeme Tuckett, The Dominion Post