Looking Inwards, Looking Back: Tusi Tamasese and Samoan Cultural Production in New Zealand

  • Ann HardyEmail author


The Samoan diasporic grouping is one of the largest, long established, and most culturally productive in New Zealand. It has reached a level of maturity where writers and directors can look critically, both at the difficult social conditions to which their families had to adapt in the host-country, and to their own cultural contribution to that sometimes painful adjustment. This chapter examines in particular a film by the writer/director Tusi Tamasese, One Thousand Ropes (2016), about a Samoan baker and ex-boxer living in Wellington and the damage his violence has wrought on his family. Working in the context of an ongoing creative collaboration with producer Catherine Fitzgerald, and producing cinema that is both distinctively Samoan yet internationally resonant, Tamasese examines, as he did in his first film The Orator/ O le Tulafale (2011), the nature of masculinity and self-respect at the intersection between customary and modern ways of living.


Samoan diaspora New Zealand Samoan cultural production Film Tusi Tamasese Catherine Fitzgerald One Thousand Ropes Redemption from violence Diasporic film Pacific film Film New Zealand film Samoa Cinema Migrant film-making 


  1. Ahdar, R. (2013). Samoa and the Christian state ideal. International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church, 13(1), 59–72. Scholar
  2. Barclay, B. (2003, July). Celebrating fourth cinema. Illusions Magazine.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, A. (2016). Strategic essentialism, indigenous agency and difference. Chaper 5. In Relating indigenous and settler identities (pp. 116–134). Palgrave Macmillan, UK.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, S. (2012). Sione’s 2: Unfinished business [Motion picture]. New Zealand: South Pacific Pictures.Google Scholar
  5. Betham, Sr E. (2008) Aspects of Samoan indigenous spirituality and Christian Spirituality and spiritual direction. Spiritual Growth Ministries. Retrieved from
  6. Connell, J. (2003). Paradise left? Pacific Island Voyagers in the Modern World. In P. Spickard, J. L. Rondilla, & D. H. Wright (Eds.), Pacific diaspora: Island peoples in the United States and across the Pacific (pp. 69–86). Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  7. Duranti. A. (1990). Doing things with words: Conflict, understanding and change in a Samoan fono. In K. Watson-Gegeo & G. White (Eds.), Disentangling: Conflict discourse in pacific societies (pp. 459–489). California, USA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Flaherty, R. (1926). Moana [Motion picture]. Samoa: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation.Google Scholar
  9. Fresno-Calleja, P. (2016). Between marginality and marketability: Contesting representations of diasporic Pacific identities. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 15(1), 25–45.Google Scholar
  10. Gough, D. (2006). Mobility, tradition and adaptation: Samoa’s comparative advantage in the global marketplace. Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, 4(2), 31–43.Google Scholar
  11. Graham, C. (2006). Sione’s wedding [Motion picture]. New Zealand: South Pacific Pictures.Google Scholar
  12. Henderson, A. (2016). The I and the we: Individuality, collectivity, and Samoan aristic responses to cultural change. The Contemporary Pacific, 28(2), 316–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoekstra, H. (1997). Film education in a Christian perspective: Some contemporary approaches. In J. R. May & M. Bird (Eds.), New image of religious film (pp. 181–196.) Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kightley, O., & Small, S. (2005). Fresh off the boat. New Zealand: Play Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kihleng, E., & Teaiwa, T. (2012). The Orator/O Le Tulafale (review). The Contemporary Pacific, 24(2), 434–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Latai, l. (2015). Changing covenants in Samoa? From brothers and sisters to husbands and wives? Oceania, 5(1), 92–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levitt, P., & Jaworsky, B. Nadiya. (2007). Translational migration studies: Past developments and future trends. Annual review of sociology, 33(1), 129–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liliomaiava-Doktor, S. (2009). Beyond “migration”: Samoan population movement (Malaga) and the geography of social space (Vā). The Contemporary Pacific, 21(1), 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Looser, D. (2012). Moving Islands: Mapping the Samoan diaspora in contemporary transnational theatre from the South Pacific. Contemporary Theatre Review, 22(4), 451–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Luafutu, F. J., & Luafutu, M. (2015). The white guitar [play]. The Conch Theatre Company: NZGoogle Scholar
  21. Mallon, S., Mahina-Tuai, K., & Salesa, D. (Eds.). (2012). Tangata O Le Moana: New Zealand and the people of the Pacific. Wellington, New Zealand: Te Papa Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of Women’s Affairs. (2015). A malu i ‘āiga, e malu fo’i i fafo: Protection for the family, protection for all. Retrieved from
  23. Muaiava, S. P., & Suaalii-Sauni, T. (2012). Review of Tusi Tamasese’s O le Tulafale/The Orator. The Contemporary Pacific., 24(2), 438–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Naficy, H. (2001). An accented cinema: Exilic and diasporic filmmaking. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Naficy, H. (2010). Multiplicity and multiplexing in today’s cinemas: Diasporic cinema, art cinema and mainstream cinema. Journal of Media Practice, 11(1), 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Neilsen, M. (2015) Pacific way: Auckland’s Pasifika community diaspora media. Pacific Journalism Monographs No. 5. Pacific Media Centre, Auckland University of Technology. Akl, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  27. Pereira, F. (2012). Arts specific: Pacific peoples and New Zealand Arts. In Sean Mallon, Kolokesa Mahima-Tuai, & Damon Salesa (Eds.), Tangata o le Moana: New Zealand and the people of the Pacific (pp. 305–333). Wgtn, New Zealand: Te Papa Press.Google Scholar
  28. Purcell- Sjölund, A. (2012) Exploring Samoaness in the Samoan Film: The Orator (O Le Tulafale). Proceedings of 1st International Sympsoium on Language and Communication. Ismir, Turkey (unpublished).Google Scholar
  29. Rankine, J., Percival, T., Finau, E., Hope, L.-T., Kingi, P., Peteru, M. C., Powell, E., Robati-Mani, R., & Selu, E. (2015) Pacific peoples, violence and the power and control wheel. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2015, Advance online publication.Google Scholar
  30. Salesa, T. D. I. (2003). ‘Travel-happy’ Samoa: Colonialism, Samoan migration and a ‘Brown Pacific’. New Zealand Journal of History, 37(2), 171–188.Google Scholar
  31. Siu-Maliko, M. A. (2016) Christian faith and family violence: A report for Samoan communities in New Zealand. Centre for Theology and Public Issues, 1–19. Retrieved from
  32. Tamasese, T. (2009). Va Tapuia (Sacred spaces) [Motion picture]. Samoa/ New Zealand: Blueskin Films Ltd.Google Scholar
  33. Tamasese, T. (2011). O le Tulafale (The Orator) [Motion picture]. Samoa/New Zealand: Blueskin Films Ltd.Google Scholar
  34. Tamasese, T. (2017). One thousand ropes [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Blueskin Films Ltd.Google Scholar
  35. The Naked Samoans (2004–2009) bro’Town [TV Series]. New Zealand: Firehorse Films.Google Scholar
  36. Urale, M. (1992) Frangipani perfume [Theatrical performance]. New Zealand.Google Scholar
  37. Urale, S. (1997). O Tamaiti [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Carol J. Paewai Productions.Google Scholar
  38. Urale, S. (1998). Velvet dreams [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Topshelf Productions.Google Scholar
  39. Urale, S. (2008). Apron strings [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Great Southern Films.Google Scholar
  40. Vaiaoga-Ioasa, S. (2016). Three wise cousins [Motion picture]. New Zealand/Samoa: M2S1 Film.Google Scholar
  41. Waititi, T. (2004). Two cars, one night [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Blueskin Films Ltd.Google Scholar
  42. Wendt, A. (2003). The songmaker’s chair. New Zealand: Huia Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Ward, V. (2008). Rain of the children [Motion picture]. New Zealand: Wayward Films.Google Scholar
  44. Zalipour, A. (2015a). The Asian Diaspora in New Zealand: Conceptualising Asian New Zealand Cinema. 2nd Ph.D. Thesis. University of Waikato.Google Scholar
  45. Zalipour, A. (2015b). Emerging Asian New Zealand Filmmakers in New Zealand Cinema. In B. Goldsmith, M. Ryan, & G. Lealand (Eds.), Directory of world cinema: Australia and New Zealand 2.Google Scholar
  46. Zalipour, A. (2016). The Interstitial and collective modes of film production in New Zealand: A case study in Asian diasporic films. Transnational Cinemas, 7(1), 96–110. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WalkatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations