Sandra Kailahi / Loading Docs

Meet Munch Jr.

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A Samoan animator fulfills the aspirations of his autistic son by bringing a cartoon creation to life.

Sixteen-year-old Nikau Cowley wants to create his own real life hand puppet. He's a keen artist and animator. He's also on the Autism spectrum with Asperger's Syndrome. Autism affects 1 in every 100 people in New Zealand.

Nikau's dad - Ali Cowley - is helping him to achieve his goal and bring the puppet alive from a drawing on a page to a real life hand puppet. Ali is an experienced animator, illustrator and character designer, who has worked on such projects as 'Bro'Town'. He's his son's number one supporter when it comes to his art.

Meet Munch Jr. is an observational look at the journey both father and son take to realise Nikau's dreams. The documentary is ultimately about a father's love for his son and his desire to help Nikau pursue his passion and prepare for life as he gets older.

As a first time director, Ali would also like to bring awareness to Autism from a Polynesian father's perspective.

We are so grateful to be selected for Loaded Docs 2019 but we need your help so we can make our documentary.

Loading Docs is supported by NZ On Air, with additional support from the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho, who all want to see this short documentary get made. However, we need to meet our funding target of $2,500 to unlock the $5,500 from Loading Docs.

Every little bit will help this project get made so whether its $5 or $500, we greatly appreciate any support you can give.

Making a documentary is not cheap. We need all the money we can get to pay for the cameraman, the camera gear, sound gear and for the animation. All money raised through Boosted will go towards making the best short documentary we can.

The great thing about Loading Docs is that our documentary will be made available free online. We believe this story will help to break down barriers about those who see the world differently from the general population. It's also a great conversation piece about how autism affects over 40,000 New Zealanders.

As soon as we reach our goal, filming can begin so please donate now.



Ali Cowley - Director 

Ali (Samoan) is an Animation Director with an eye on Film Direction.

He has worked in the industry for over 20 years and has directed music videos and short animated films for corporate videos, app content and specialises in illustration, storyboarding, production design, 2D animation and branding. He was an animation director on prime time animated show Bro'Town for four seasons and is currently working as an Art Tutor at Media Design School in the Gaming Department and is on the Pasifika Committee called "Vaega" as a Mentor to the Polynesian students. At his work, he's currently researching ways to engage his Polynesian Community with new media as a career choice. He also successfully curated an art exhibition featuring Pasifika/Maori MDS Alumni in his home town of Mangere.

He was a participant in Script to Screen's South Shorts Screenwriting initiative and has written a short film script which he is hoping to make in the near future. Meet Munch Jnr is his first short documentary.

Ali and his Fanau are part of the Pasifika Autism Support Group P.A.S.G.


Sandra Kailahi - Producer

Sandra (Tongan/Kiwi) is passionate about telling Pacific stories.

She produced her first feature documentary film, For My Father's Kingdom which had its World Premiere at the 2019 Berlinale NATIVe Film Festival. The first film she produced was Vela Manusaute's short film,  The Messiah in 2018 through her company, Kingston Productions. The New Zealand Film Commission Fresh Short was selected for ImagineNATIVE in Toronto, Skábmagovat Film Festival in Finland, LA Skins in Los Angeles and will screen at Maoriland Film Festival in 2019.

Sandra is an experienced journalist in mainstream and Pacific media. She is a published author and playwright and is now co-writing and producing a new web series, Brutal Lives with Vela Manusaute.


  • Thank You - Our Stretch Goal


    Thank you and Fa'afetai tele lava for the amazing support and donations for Meet Munch Jr. We hit our 100% target this morning after only 3 days of our campaign and we are over the moon!

    We are incredibly humbled by this but we still need your help because the more money we raise, the more we can do with our short documentary.

    The goal is to use animation throughout the doco but that costs a lot of money and we want to have a sound operator too which means we need more funds.

    Please help us with our goals to help make Meet Munch Jr.

    Fa'afetai lava

    Sandra & Ali 

    Thank You - Our Stretch Goal
  • A Big Shout Out!


    WOW A BIG THANK YOU to our great support network that are our Fanau, Friends & New friends who have gotten us to 87% of funds raised to make our Loading Doc's Meet Munch Jr film a reality.

    This has only happened in the span of 3 days which has truly humbled us.

    Our team is so grateful and humbled by this incredible outpouring of love and support.

    We don't have far to go so please help us get to 100% so we can get our story told.

    A Big Shout Out!

Loading Docs

Loading Docs is a unique New Zealand documentary initiative that aims to captivate and inspire audiences as well as develop and promote New Zealand filmmaking talent. Since launching in 2014 Loading Docs has touched audiences all over the world. Our films have been seen online, on TV, in film festivals... even on airplanes!

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