Vai (2019)

"Eight female directors from eight separate Pacific Island nations celebrate Indigenous resilience and creativity through the life of one extraordinary woman" (MIFF 2019).

Across Pacific languages, Vai remains the common word for water, and is the name of the film's lead, played by eight individual actresses across eight stories and eight stages of the character's life. Marvel at the beauty of the Pacific region and experience Pasifika filmmakers stories at they choose to tell them.

 Vai links together a story of family, culture, and at times, isolation. A delicate exploration into the meaning of growth, adaptation, and most notably, a connection to water and home.

The screening will be followed by a Panel discussion made up of all-female panelists.


Panel Discussion

Join panelists Sania Alamate, Mary Maselina Harm, Rose Mangila, Iree Chow and Meleika Gese-Fatafehi to explore the films journey of empowerment through culture over the lifetime of one woman, Vai.


Sania Alamate
Sania is a Solomon Islander who has been raised in Brisbane. She is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) at the Queensland University of Technology. From secondary school, Sania has been involved in community projects, both in the Solomon Islands and in Australia, including a small health and sanitation project for adolescent girls in a region of the Solomons. She has served as an executive committee member and secretary for the Solomon Islands Brisbane Community until early this year and was the Vice President of UQSPIA in 2016. Sania continues to be involved in the Brisbane Pacific Island community through MANA mentoring and as a Pasifika Student Ambassador at QUT.

Mary Maselina Harm
Mary is a proud Samoan/Chinese-Fijian passionate about the power of storytelling in creating social change. During her studies, Mary played a key role in establishing The University of Queensland’s first ever South Pacific Islander Association (UQSPIA) and was the first female to be elected president of the Asia Pacific Youth Parliament for Water, held in South Korea in 2017. Today Mary serves as the Brisbane Coordinator for a group of young community leaders known as the Pacific Climate Warriors - elevating the stories of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Most recently Mary has been appointed the Multicultural Youth Ambassador for Queensland and hopes to use this platform to create more opportunities and spaces for young people of colour to inform policies, services and frameworks.

Rose Mangila
Rose is a Papua New Guinean who has been raised in PNG, Samoa and Thailand. She is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Griffith University. From secondary school to university, Rose has been involved with community outreach programs in PNG, Thailand and Australia including participating in programs that provide stationary and books for students in rural Papua New Guinea and working alongside children with disabilities in Thailand to Make it easier for them to function in society. She has served as an executive committee member for UQSPIA for two years and is now the Vice President of Griffith University Papua New Guinea Student Association.

Iree Chow
Hailing from the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk) & Solomon Islands – Iree currently sits as the President of the Pasifika Women’s Alliance (PWA) – a culturally diverse network that is the voice on women’s issues, challenges and strengths and supports women to be better leaders in the wider community. As one of the youngest members of PWA, Iree is passionate about bridging the gap between generations and empowering women and youth to be active in their communities and to work together to address issues most prevalent to our Pacific Islands.   With a background in accounting and finance, she has had the opportunity to utilize her skills across several projects and roles - allowing her to spend her time traveling in between Honiara, Solomon Islands and Brisbane, Australia. One of these roles includes coordinating a program for young Australian women in high school to volunteer in the Solomon Islands, immerse themselves in a different culture and be on the front lines of action.

Meleika Gese-Fatafehi
Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi is pretty hilarious and laughs too much, so much that her Black/Indigenous and Pasifika ancestors are probably tired of her. Lucky she alternates burdening the two sides of her ancestry, who are from Mer (Murray) Island, from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes, and Fahefa, Tonga. Meleika is also a literature and film critic, or something along those lines. She loves talking about all things nerdy, as well as decolonising spaces online and in real life. She is a storyteller that takes many forms; from a rapper, artist and the most prominent, a poet. She is also the recipient of the prestigious fellowship The Next Chapter, run by the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne and will be finishing her manuscript along the way. If she’s upset any of her ancestors whilst making this bio, she’s sorry.

About Mana of the Pacific

The South Pacific Island Association (UQSPIA) in collaboration with UQlife bring you 'Mana of the Pacific', a cultural celebration of all pacific islander peoples past and present. Immerse yourself in their stories, music, traditions and arts and crafts during the day then attend a spectacular traditional feast and live show in the evening. The first half of the day will be free and open to all, but tickets must be purchased for the Luau (dinner and show) if you wish to attend. This is a day not to be missed!


Time Activity Location

Main Stage
Opening prayer and welcome
Pasific Climate Warriors
Pasifica Combined Associations Performance
Live Music

Great Court
12-1pm Living Book Series: Tales of the Pacific Schonell Theatre

Pacific Island Workshops
Maori Workshops (Tipare and Ta moko)
Vaka Workshop
Weaving Workshop
Pare Ei Workshop 

Great Court
1-2.30pm Film Screening of VAI (2019) Schonell Theatre
2.30-3.30pm VAI Panel Discussion  Schonell Theatre
4-5.30pm  Second Film Screening of VAI Schonell Theatre

Mana of the Pacific Luau (Dinner and Show)
Traditional celebration feast and live show
(Ticketed event - $12 Students, $25 Community)

Great Court


Schonell Theatre (Building 22)
Theatre 1