Valeriya Golovina


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Meli and Avito Alefosio live on one of the most remote islands in the world: tiny Nukunonu, a 2.1 miĀ² Pacific atoll of Tokelau. Convinced by a visiting Kiwi doctor that their blind son Joseph would have better opportunities in New Zealand, they set sail with their children in 1976. They leave behind their close-knit community and the way of life for a place where they don't speak the language or understand the culture. It will be 36 years before they are able to return to visit.

Meli recalls vivid memories of her idyllic childhood, from fishing with her dad in the outrigger canoe to her first encounter with a Palagi - foreigner. Her childhood was spent swimming in the lagoons, collecting coconuts and watching bingo games played by the adults at night. Tokelau nestles in peaceful isolation, with only the occasional sea bird to be seen on the horizon and no sounds to be heard other than the distant roar of breaking surf or the Sunday church bell.

The film explores the life of this Tokelauan family who arrive in the big, bustling city of Auckland, New Zealand having only known their tiny island way of life. In a foreign country and culture, they valiantly struggle to adapt while at the same time, keep their songs, traditions and language alive. They tell stories of their beautiful homeland to their six children, three of whom were born in New Zealand and have never visited Tokelau. They also struggle to reconcile the value they place on family with the fact they left behind their ageing parents.


Personal Bio

As an emerging filmmaker I have had the chance to travel to places that seemed unreachable growing up in a small town in the South-East of Ukraine. Working with local communities in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Germany and UAE motivated me to continually expose myself to overlooked situations and emphasize the youthful generation's vital role in shaping non-mainstream narratives about our communities.


The Team

Producer: Niamh Swananck

Director & Cinematographer: Valeriya Golovina

Gaffer: Navneeth Nair

Sound Recordist & Sound Editor: Cameron Cook

Editor: Morgan Hopkins

Animators: Adele Bea Cipste, Holly Brook, Timmy Chivers, Dwight Bruce, Veronika Hunter, James Truscott, Singleton Shan, Raeanne Boschat

Students from Yoobee School of Design are creating 2D animation sequences portraying intimate memories shared by Meli's family

Composer: William Philipson

We're extremely lucky to have support and mentorship throughout the project from Victoria University of Wellington, documentary director Paul Wolffram, producer Catherine Fitzerald, Zechariah Reuelu and members of the Wellington and Lower Hutt Tokelauan communities.


Where the funds are going

Victoria University of Wellington is providing us with $1,900 which goes toward the bulk pre-production and production costs. We are looking for a further $2000 to pay external creatives such as the animators and cover the film's application fees for local/international festivals.

All donors will be kept updated throughout production and get an on-screen credit.

Donations made by NZ income earners qualify for a 33% tax credit from the IRD with a receipt provided by The Arts Foundation.

Please support us in reaching our goal and share this project with your communities. We will be in touch with all of our donors for the premiere and screenings.

Thank you!