The first of its kind in Aotearoa television.
Amanaki Prescott-Faletau’s vision of Inky Pinky Ponky is a dream come true for any writer and theatre practitioner. From solo piece, to a theatre show with ensemble cast, to winning the Playmarket NZ award for Best Teenage Script. Being performed in high school productions across Aotearoa, and at Manukau Institute of Technology through their performing arts programme—To now, a professionally-filmed-hour-long-episode which aired on Whakaata Māori and MĀORI+2, and is now available to stream around the world on The Coconet TV!
The story goes—a fakaleitī/leitī (transgender woman or gender and sexual diverse identity in Tonga) high school student is annoyed at Mose, the captain of the first XV rugby team, but then gradually falls in love with him. Whilst she is traversing discrimination and intolerance on the journey to find her happiness and sense of belonging at home and at school, Mose also starts developing meaningful feelings of love and compassion for her. This is so major because in the history of Aotearoa television, there has never been a Tongan queer led show where the main protagonist and lead actress is a fakaleitī/leitī woman. It amplifies the intersectionality of Pacific queer experiences of finding love and a sense of acceptance in high school.
I remember watching the latest version of the theatre show Inky Pinky Ponky for the F’INE Festival at Ngā Tohu o Uenuku/Māngere Arts Centre in 2021, and feeling—as many queer Pasifika people have felt in a big or small capacity—represented by what the themes of the show entailed. The themes of queer love and queer love struggles. Prescott-Faletau’s performance as a sassy, unapologetic but thoughtful teenager attempting to find her place in school is spectacular! In only an hour, this show manages to encapsulate the Tongan culture, themes of Christianity and queerness, teenage banter and breaking the fourth wall. And it depicts a vulnerable truth of Prescott-Faletau’s experience: “My heart and soul went into this, so it’s like bearing and giving out a piece of yourself and having it open to the world to judge and have a spin on,” she said to Pacific Media Network. Inky Pinky Ponky highlights authenticity and richness for an audience to enjoy and receive openly, especially for those that are not a part of the rainbow community. It allows the audience to have sympathy, share a few giggles and feel the pain and heart of the story being told through our screens.
This story had many breakout stars—like Sesilia Pusiaki who plays Faletau-Prescott’s character’s mother, and who had one of my favourite scenes around her complex navigation of dealing with her child, their amalgamated Tongan-Christian faith, and gender identity. I do not want to give too much away, but it was so significant and emotional as their scenes together are so prevalent and relatable to so many Pasifika queer people.
This show was trending number 1 on YouTube in Aotearoa when it was released on July 20th. It really is a special story that has island humour, shade (of course), theatrics, glamour, truth, love and understanding too. A timeless show that hopefully inspires young intersectional Rainbow voices to tell their truths and to find their happiness.
You all need to watch! On Whakaata Māori, MĀORI+2, and The Coconet TV website.