The Solar Nation of Tokelau: An adventure in documentary making

  • Ulrich Weissbach PACIFICA Productions Ltd

Abstract

Commentary: The Tokelau solar project first came to the attention of this filmmaker at a Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2013. Three remote islands in the Pacific becoming the first 100 percent solar-powered nation on earth and setting an example for the complete adaptation of sustainable energy sounded like a story too good to be overlooked by mainstream news media. However, research demonstrated that this was indeed widely ignored. So the author set about his usual practice of pitching the idea to his colleagues at German Television. The fact that he had already made a short documentary about Tokelau in 2006 (ARTE TV Reportage: Independence Referendum in Tokelau) and was thus familiar with the territory and its people, which worked in his favour. But funding proved to be a difficult challenge because the logistics of the project demanded a longer than usual shooting schedule and crew time. In the end, a solution was found by accessing additional funding and negotiating a bulk deal with the crew to make The Solar Nation of Tokelau (2014).




Keywords: climate change, development, documentaries, energy, environmental journalism, filmmaking, Pacific, solar energy, sustainability, Tokelau

Author Biography

Ulrich Weissbach, PACIFICA Productions Ltd
Documentary film producer and director, PACIFICA Productions Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand.

References

Foua Toloa (n.d.). Foua Toloa—Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foua_Toloa

Government of Tokelau: Administration. (n.d.). Malo ni and welcome to our official website. Retrieved from http://www.tokelau.org.nz/About+Us/Administration.html

Interview with Foua Toloa (2015, June 23). [Video interview by U. P. Weissbach.] Available at https://vimeo.com/210392652

Michener, J. A. (1951). Return to paradise. New York: Penguin Random House.

Powersmart. (2012, October 29). Powersmart finishes Tokelau renewable energy project: Power to the people—PowerSmart finishes world first project to make Tokelau 100% solar powered. Retrieved from http://powersmartsolar.co.nz/blog/id/413

Sheppard, D. (2013, February 3). Tokelau leads the world on renewable energy. Islands Business. Retrieved from https://www.islandsbusiness.com/2013/item/620-tokelau-leads-the-world-on-renewable-energy

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Smith, M. (2017, May 11). Tokelau suspends two officials following helicopter row review. Asia Pacific Report. Retrieved from http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/05/11/tokelau-suspends-two-officials-following-helicopter-row-review/

Tokelau: Our Relationship with Tokelau. (n.d.). New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) website. Retrieved from https://mfat.govt.nz/en/countries-and-regions/pacific/tokelau/

Tokelau Census of Population and Dwellings. (2016). Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/people_and_communities/pacific_peoples/2016-tokelau-census-landing.aspx

Tokelauan self-determination referendum, 2006. (n.d.). Wikpedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokelauan_self-determination_referendum,_2006

Weissbach, U. P. (2014). The solar nation of Tokelau. Available at https://vimeo.com/146467851
Tokelau
Published
21-07-2017