Todd Henry

Documentary photographer, photojournalist and visual storyteller.
Fofonga 'o e kau fakafoki
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Nationality: New Zealander & American
Biography: Social Documentary / Visual Ethnography. Todd Henry is a documentary photographer, photojournalist, and visual storyteller.  He is interested in capturing visual content that examines various aspects of our society that we often take for... read on
Public Story
Fofonga 'o e kau fakafoki
Credits: todd henry
Date of Work: 10/18/18 - Ongoing
Updated: 02/13/19
Location: Nuku'alofa
There are over 700 deportees in the small Pacific Island nation of Tonga.   These individuals were born in Tonga and raised primarily in the United States, New Zealand or Australia before being deported back to Tonga for various offenses.  For many of them coming back to Tonga, the land of their birth feels less like home and more like a foreign country because their primary cultural identity may be that of their host country.

The isolated islands of Tonga have a very strong Polynesian culture, and the returnees often have a difficult time finding a place in society.  They must deal with negative stigma, as well as the task of (re)learning the intricate protocols that govern Tongan society.  There is currently no comprehensive reintegration programme in place in Tonga to help these men and women reintegrate back into Tongan society.

I shot these portraits during the filming of the Vice NZ film Deportees of Tonga - Gangsters in Paradise, which I co-produced in October of 2018.  Through these portraits I hope to capture the essence of who these men and women are in a humanistic way, while at the same time drawing awareness to their unique situation as essential foreigners in their own land.

I have intentionally left the names/descriptions off of those who are returnees, and I have only included the country that they were deported from.  It is important to note that while these returnees did commit crimes that resulted in their deportation from their host country, they arrive back in Tonga as free individuals who have already paid their debts to the societies that they were expelled from.  

By Todd Henry —

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