One of your directed short film ‘The lawnmower men of Kapu’ will be shown in Tampere Film Festival. Could you tell what is it about? What is the theme in it?
The film is about the power of elderly Aunties. Many of us are fortunate to have them in our lives and communities. On the surface they are ordinary but they possess an abundance of love for their families and they use this to keep family members together.
Why was it important for you to make The lawnmower men of Kapu?
This film was shot on my marae (or tribal community space) with my real aunties playing themselves. I wanted to capture something of my aunties and share this with my very large family and tribe. The film helped my family understand that filmmaking wasn’t something that happened outside of our community and that we could tell our own stories. Through the making of the film came the Māoriland Film Festival. Another important note is that as the years pass the film has become more significant to my tribal community as two of the aunties have since passed away.
You are well know as a producer, director and ex-radio journalist.
Yes I was a journalist and radio presenter for 15 years before becoming a director and producer in television and film.
What is the best and the most rewarding part in your job as a producer or director?
Being able to tell stories that break down stereotypes and also to show Māori and other indigenous people in a more accurate light.
What was the hardest moment in your career? Why?
When I had become a mother and trying to juggle multiple television and film projects many of which took me away from home.
Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. How would you describe them, what does it mean to be a Maori?
I don’t wish to roll out cliches or stereotypes about Māori. Through our culture and language we are connected to each other, to our lands, rivers, mountains and the spirits that reside in them. We enjoy a good sing song, we like to laugh and we can be tough when we need to be. Like any people who have experienced colonisation there have been generations of Māori who have had their culture and language, lands and treasures taken from them. This has had a very devastating effect on families and some of this can be seen in the films in the Māori spotlight. However culture and language is being reclaimed along with lands, mountains etc. More people are identifying proudly with being Māori and this makes me optimistic for the future for Māori.
Is there something essential that separate Maori from other people, traditions maybe?
The Māori language is unique to Māori although there are similarities with other languages found throughout the Pacific.
To my knowledge, Maori are the most tattooed people in the world.I’m not sure if that’s true but certainly Ta Moko or tattoo is very visible today than say 30 years ago. This is in part a reclamation of Māori identity and visible sign that Māori are still here after nearly 200 years of colonisation and efforts to assimilate Māori. Many non Māori white New Zealanders are wearing Māori tattoos too because for them they have no other land that they call home. In other words they realise that as 5th generation New Zealanders they don’t have any connection with previously called “mother England” and therefore they are proud to be uniquely from NZ
What kind of symbolic meanings the tattoos have?
Every Ta Moko (traditional tattoo) tells a story that is individual to the person who wears it.
Do you have any tattoos? If yes, could you tell what those tattoos mean to you?
Yes I have several. They represent important stages in my life.
Do you believe in myths? Could you tell a few examples?
We don’t call them myths as such but rather stories that explain our relationship to the land and sky and all living things. These stories have been told orally for over 1000 years. There are stories explaining how the world was created, where Māori originated from and who we are related to throughout the Pacific.
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