A NIU WAY: Coconut Trees, the Virus, and the Vision

Gracing hotels, tourist resorts, high rises, and around Waikiki in Hawai'i, the coconut palm tree dances in the wind, its green leaves at the top of a long slender trunk an iconic image of a tropical paradise for tourists. However, when the corona-virus pandemic forced hotels and the tourism industry to shut down, it threw into stark relief the coconut palm's importance not as an ornament for tourists but as a source of food and water etc. for Hawai'i's residents. This awareness is seen through the eyes of a Pacific Islander who sees mature coconuts on the palm trees after the lockdown and becomes an activist for the return of a thriving niu culture in Hawai'i.

  • Vilsoni Tausie Hereniko
    The Land Has Eyes
  • Vilsoni Tausie Hereniko
    The Land Has Eyes
  • Vilsoni Tausie Hereniko
    The Land Has Eyes
  • Vilsoni Tausie Hereniko
    Key Cast
    "Vilsoni Hereniko"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Television
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 2 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Iphone 11
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • None yet
Distribution Information
  • Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC)
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Vilsoni Tausie Hereniko

Vilsoni Hereniko was born and raised on Rotuma in Fiji for the first sixteen years of his life. The youngest of eleven children, he learned to tell stories from his father who gifted him with the oral tales of his island. His first feature film titled "Pear ta Ma 'On Maf: The Land Has Eyes" was set on his home island and had its world premiere at Sundance in 2004. It also won best feature film at the Imaginative Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto. He has also made short films and documentaries. A playwright and scholar as well, he is a professor at the University of Hawai'i.

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Director Statement

The coconut tree saved my life when I was growing up poor on the remote island of Rotuma in Fiji. Now that I live and work in Hawai'i, I am saddened that the coconut tree in urban Honolulu and around high rises and tourist resorts exist merely as a symbol of "Paradise" for the tourists instead of a food and water source for its residents. When the pandemic hit and the homeless were foraging in garbage cans for food and water to survive, I became an activist for the return of the tree of life to Hawai'i's residents in an effort to enhance food security in future. I made this film during the pandemic to show how valuable this palm tree is to me and the people of Oceania and the Pacific Rim, except in Hawai'i today although this was not the case in the past, because of colonialism and the tourism industry.