Polynesia, the pilot of the atolls
Tuesday July 28 at 8:50 p.m. on France 5
On the airport apron, families adorn their children with flower necklaces and play traditional music. After several months of absence, the schoolchildren are finally going home. They have just completed several hours of flight, with Mahenuu Mourin as captain. He is one of the pilots of Air Tahiti, the only airline to serve all the islets of Polynesia.
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In 1975, Jacques Brel, in his Polynesian retirement period, was one of the first to connect by plane these 118 islands scattered over an area as large as Europe, to serve the landlocked populations. Today, it is the daily life of Mahenuu Mourin that the journalist François Guillaume followed in this new episode of the documentary series Planes at the end of the world.
Access to health services, education …
Within the five archipelagos lost in the middle of the Pacific – Marquesas, Austral, Gambier, Tuamotu and the Society Archipelago, “Mahe”, as the locals call it, has become vital. The plane is the only way to quickly access health and education services offered by the Polynesian capital, Papeete. It also carries local goods, such as the pearls that support two-thirds of Gambier’s inhabitants.
The documentary follows the different journeys made by the pilot, during which the viewer admires the spectacular aerial shots and discovers the local traditions. Thus, in Rimatara, in the Austral Islands, Mahe shares a typical meal, in which everything comes from local agriculture: taro – a plant that serves as the basis of food, potatoes, bananas or even octopus, fished at the edge of the island.
« We have everything we need here to meet our needs: you don’t have to go to the supermarket! »Summarizes Artigas, resident of Rimatara. If isolation is sometimes a handicap that requires the assistance of the pilot, it offers a way of life close to nature particularly inspiring.