Kura Kaupapa students behind animated Māori film

By Peata Melbourne

The world's first bilingual animated movie from New Zealand could be set to hit the screen by 2020.

Art students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Kōtuku have had the treatment stage of a film about Rūaumoko approved by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Making a movie in te reo Māori with English subtitles based on Māori mythology is a dream for them that could soon become a reality.

Te Kōtuku student Maurits Taitin says, "Rūaumoko is the main theme, he has his good and bad sides, his mischievousness."

The concept to make an animated film on the mythological character Rūaumoko  - God of Earthquakes and Volcanoes came about from the students. Part of their journey towards creating this movie will include meeting with famous director James Cameron, and his creative team responsible for films like Avatar and Titanic.

Art teacher Heemi Taitin says, "It's a dream for them and it will expand their minds, their knowledge to the world of animation aside from the fact they'll be meeting famous people, it's an opportunity to create networks with an industry and exposure."

Only three students were chosen to meet Cameron and his team, thanks to art teacher Stan Fong of Chinese and Māori heritage who has previously worked as an animator for Disney and Warner Bros.

"We want to show how our own Maori designs can be utilized, to make them unique but still within the template" says art student Kiliona Tamati-Tupa'i

But before anything is finalized, there are still some stages of the funding process to complete. However the creative flow continues among the students who are anxiously waiting to see their dreams come into fruition.

Art student Jeidyn Hakaraia told Te Kaea, "This is my dream, because I don't see many Maori working in the animation industry and so I really want to have a go at it."

Tomorrow they leave Auckland for Los Angeles to prepare for their big presentation to Cameron and his team. Next year China, Hong Kong and France are on the schedule.