7 Jun 2017

Aupito - The High Chief

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:27 pm on 7 June 2017

A new short film about an intimate encounter with a Samoan family in transition is out on The Wireless.

Filmmaker Ursula Grace Williams – who is part-Samoan – was researching Samoan rituals of death when an interview with Aupito (Su'a) William Sio [the current Labour MP for Mangere] took her in a new direction.

"It unfolded when we were talking in the first interview that he was facing this on a really personal level – his father was passing and they were in the process of planning his father's funeral from afar."

While Williams had initially planned was "cast the net really wide" for her film, it became the story of a father-son relationship and the gravity of a father bestowing a title on his son while still alive.

The gentle pace of Aupito - The High Chief was influenced by the sensitive subject matter and the family themselves who are calm, kind and patient, she says.

"You kind of slow down in that world and I wanted to reflect that in the documentary."

Aupito William Sio and his family knew their story was an important one to tell.

"We recognise that all of us walk through the doors of death," he says in the film.

Watch it below: