Vai is a portmanteau feature film made by nine female Pacific filmmakers, filmed in seven different Pacific countries: Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Aotearoa (New Zealand). It is about the journey of Vai, played by a different indigenous actress in each of the Pacific countries. In each of these Pacific nations ‘vai’ means water.
Fiji: In a modest dwelling in Fiji a 7 year-old girl with boundless energy tries to understand why she has to say goodbye to her home country and extended family as her mother prepares her to leave Fiji.
Tonga: Vai, now 13, dreams of going to NZ to sing but her day-to-day chore of filling up water bottles from the neighbourhood water tanks makes her feel as though she will never leave Tonga.
Solomon Islands: While fishing from a small canoe off the coast of the Solomon Islands, 16 year old Vae argues with her mother about the correct way to bait the fishing hook.
New Zealand Born Samoan: Having worked hard to get into university, 21 year old Vai is now a top student, and one of only two pacific islanders in her class but with her attendance waning due to pressures at home, she finds it difficult to get support from her tutor and struggles to find her voice in a system that isn’t built for her.
Kuki Airani (Cook Islands): Amidst apathy, fear and the trappings of colonialism Vai makes a stand for change on her island of Rarotonga, finding her voice as an activist.
Samoa: In her 40s now, Vai returns to Samoa to perform for an important event but, having been away for many years, Vai struggles with her connection to the performance.
Niue: Vai, now 64, tries to convince her granddaughter, Moana, that leaving the island of Niue will give her an equal start in life.
Aotearoa: An elderly Vai, 80 years old, gathers with her whānau (family) by the river’s edge to perform a naming ceremony for her great granddaughter, Vai.