The girl behind a 50-day ocean odyssey
The face that launched a tiny outboard-powered dinghy, stranding three lovesick teenage boys for 50 days adrift at sea, has been revealed.
Filo Filo and Samuelu Peleha (also known as Sam Perez), both 15, and Etueni (or Edward) Nasau, 14, sailed off from Tokelau's Atafu Island on October 5, heading to a neighbouring atoll looking for love.
The boys stole the boat to get to Fakaofo atoll – 200km or a day-long boat ride away – after a girl caught Filo's eye at an island sports event. They had a couple of sacks of coconuts, some beer and a fuel tank.
But the motor broke and the boys drifted 1300km, surviving on the coconuts and a seagull before the New Zealand tuna boat San Nikunau picked them up and landed them in Fiji.
Back home, they were believed dead. A memorial service had been held. Now 18-year-old Fakaofo resident Anita Iasona has come forward, saying she was the girl who met Filo at the week-long athletic competition in Atafu and set the saga in motion. "He was so good looking," she told Canadian online site The Star, her only comment so far.
Ms Iasona said she and Filo had spent the week "talking – and kissing". She described him as charming. Ms Iasona's friend Elieta Lapana was already dating Sam Perez, Filo's cousin.
Before the girls left the island, the boys told them they would follow on the next boat heading to Fakaofo.
"They said that they were going to come after. I didn't know they were going to do something stupid like that."
When she heard the dinghy had gone missing, she said: "I thought I was going to lose him forever."
But the boys' ill-advised bravado had worked on her. "It was so romantic."
She and Filo spoke again for the first time last week – this time via internet site Facebook.
The boys are in Samoa and will return home this week on the next boat to Tokelau.
The Dominion Post