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Polynesien – Nomaden der Südsee

ZDF

It is like a journey to the end of the world. Far away in the oceanic expanses of the Southwest Pacific lies Taumako, a small island of the Solomon Islands with nearly five hundred inhabitants. Taumako has no electricity, no telephone, no safe harbour. A ship with supplies only comes to the small South Pacific island every few months.

News from the outside world is received by an old sea radio which is powered by a solar system.

Around the remote Polynesian island there is nothing but water as far as the eye can see. For one square kilometre of land there are 500 square miles of ocean. How could the Polynesian forefathers make it to the island and stay in touch with each other over hundreds of miles?

The film team faces extreme situations following the trail of the South Sea nomads. But, a secret is being guarded: their ancestors were the best sailors of their time and had unique knowledge of boat building and navigation.

The oldest residents of Taumako preserve the unique knowledge and are the only South Sea inhabitants who would still be able to build ships in the traditional manner to sail on high seas – that is why they are admired by industrialized countries.

In the world of high-tech yachts and GPS, engineers are trying to understand the functioning of these fast and stable boats. 40 years ago, hundreds of boats like these still crossed the distant islands. Most of them were built in Taumako. But colonialist and missionary prohibitions soon stood in the way of the traditional way of traveling and fishing. The former “nomads of the Pacific” were forced into isolation.

90-year-old Koloso Kaveia knows about the secrets of shipbuilding and seafaring. And he has a dream: he wants to revive the boat-building tradition and pass on his knowledge to the young people of Taumako. But it is not only the know-how of boat-building that is in danger of getting lost.

South Sea Islanders kept their course by observing stars, wind, waves, clouds, birds and marine animals – navigation skills which need no sextant or GPS. The film shows how the islanders try to master the difficulties of boat-building and fulfil their dream of ancient seafaring: after 40 years, a ship sets sail from the beach of Taumako out into the green-blue waters of the South Seas.

Michael Tauchert, Lorenz Knauer Matthias Haedecke, Ciro Cappellari, Marcus Holzner Geoff Mackley Mathias Windrath Jochen C. Müller Gert Heidenreich Sonja Maxeiner Jörg Kunkel, Donald Jenichen Andreas Knoblauch Uta von Borries, ZDF Ulrich Lenze ZDF, 2003 45 minutes 08/24/2003, ZDF
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