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VILSONI HERENIKO was born in Rotuma, the youngest of eleven children. Inspired by the island's oral folklore his father told him, Hereniko won a scholarship to study at Queen Victoria School in Fiji at the age of 17. While studying at the University of the South Pacific several years later, he started writing plays.  Several of these are still being studied in secondary schools throughout the Pacific. 

After years of writing and directing for the stage, Hereniko made a documentary, THE HAN MANEAK SU (RITUAL CLOWN) IN A ROTUMAN WEDDING. He also studied drama at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England for his Masters degree.  In 1991 the University of the South Pacific awarded him a Ph.D. in Literature and Language.  Shortly afterward he joined the faculty of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai'i. In 2012 he joined the Academy for Creative Media where he is a full professor teaching courses in film studies and film production.

While in Hawai'i, Hereniko continued to write plays; several have been produced internationally. He also published extensively, and in 1997 he was presented the prestigious Elliott Cades Award for his “significant body of work of exceptional quality”.  Serving on the jury and the selection committee of the Hawai'i International Film Festival from 1990 to 1995 gave Hereniko an opportunity to see many outstanding films from Asia and the Pacific. These inspired him to transition into filmmaking. In 1997 he wrote and directed his first short film, JUST DANCING.


Soon thereafter, Hereniko won the Hubert Bals Fund Award (International Film Festival, Rotterdam) to write what would become the first narrative feature by a Fijian citizen – THE LAND HAS EYES.  This film won critical acclaim; it screened at over 30 international film festivals, including Sundance, Rotterdam, Montreal, Singapore, Shanghai, Moscow, Hawai'i, and Brisbane. It won the top award in the Cinema Paradise Film Festival (Filmmaker of the Year, 2004), Wairoa Maori Film festival (Best Overall Entry, 2005) and the Toronto Imaginative Film and Media Arts Festival (Best Dramatic Feature Film).  THE LAND HAS EYES was also Fiji's first and only official entry to the Academy Awards (2005).


Hereniko returned to Fiji from 2010 to 2012 to serve as the Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific. During his tenure at USP, he initiated, developed and oversaw the production of a trilogy of musical dramatic productions that became films relating to double-hulled canoe voyaging in the Pacific: VAKA: THE BIRTH OF A SEER, DRUA:  THE WAVE OF FIRE, and MOANA: THE RISING OF THE SEA.

Today, Hereniko is a Professor at the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawai'i. More information about him can be found at:



JUST DANCING  - (1997)  Writer/Director

THE LAND HAS EYES - (2004)  Writer/Director

VAKA: THE BIRTH OF A SEER - (2011)  Executive Producer/Concept Advisor

DRUA: THE WAVE OF FIRE  - (2012) Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Director

MOANA: THE RISING OF THE SEA - (2013)  Executive Producer/Writer/Film Director

THE CHIEF'S SPEECH - (2013) Writer/Director/Producer

SALESI - (2015) Writer/Co-Director

MIRAGE - (2016) Writer/Co-Director

LET THE MOUNTAIN SPEAK - (2017) Writer/Director

A NIU WAY - (2021) Writer/Director/Producer/Narrator

SINA MA TINIRAU - (2021) Writer/Director/Producer/Narrator

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