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Doco plan for Tokelau survivors

Samantha Rina
Monday, November 29, 2010

A CANADIAN company has shown interest in filming a documentary on the 61-day odyssey by three Tokelau teens whose survival on a seagull, flying fish and rainwater while adrift in the Pacific Ocean has attracted worldwide attention.

SepiaFilms award-winning director, writer and producer Vic Sarin expressed interest in making a documentary on the teens' ordeal.

He told The Fiji Times the story was "now inspiring people around the world due to its most unexpected and very uplifting outcome".

The three cousins ù Etueni Nasau, 14, and Samu and Filo Pelesa, both 15, ù were plucked from the ocean by a New Zealand fishing vessel 30000km from home in Fiji's Exclusive Economic Zone and rushed to Suva last Friday by the Fiji naval vessel, Kula, about 36 hours before a tropical cyclone alert was raised for the region.

According to the Dominion Post which quoted freelance journalist Michael Field, the teens left home for the neighbouring Fakaofo Atoll in a late-night love quest.

During a sporting competition hosted on Atafu Atoll earlier that day, one of the teens became smitten by a girl who returned to her home in Fakaofo after the tournament.

The report said the teens decided to pursue the girl and loaded sacks of coconut, some beer and a fuel tank on to the new boat which they departed in.

Their cousin and Atafu representative, Kuresa Nasau, ,said nobody saw the teens leave and if they did, it would not have been unusual. "Young kids go out fishing all the time. Nobody questions that. They were seen at midnight and nobody suspected they were going to take off," he said.

Mr Nasau said the boys would have questions to answer when they returned home.

"I heard there was alcohol involved but all I was concerned about was their safety," he said.

A memorial service for the teens had reportedly been held on the island a few weeks ago but yesterday, Mr Nasau confirmed people were celebrating their survival.

The frail-looking survivors were rushed to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital last Friday where they were treated and discharged on the same evening. They are being billeted by the NZ High Commission and were too weak to talk to the media yesterday, a commission spokeswoman said.

"At the moment they are still not well enough to talk. Our number one priority is that they're feeling well enough before they face the press for interviews. We can confirm that all three have been discharged from the hospital," she said.

She said they were also trying to obtain consent from the boys' parents in Atafu for media interviews before they could permit the press to interview them.

The teens are likely to return home this week depending on consultations between the Immigration Department and the high commission which had requested the Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate their transfer to Tokelau.

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