Māoriland brings indigenous filmmakers together

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The 2019 Māoriland Film Festival is on in Ōtaki, showcasing 138 indigenous films from around the world, giving Māori and other indigenous creatives an outlet to create and collaborate.

Festival director Libby Hakaraia says the films shed light on issues faced by indigenous communities through an indigenous lens.

'Āina Paikai is Kanaka Māoli of Hawai'i who is showcasing his work. Paikai says, “It's called Down on the Sidewalk in Waikīkī and so just the native, our particular Hawaiian perspective how we see Waikikī, which is marketed as beautiful tourism and it's definitely that but at the same time there's a lot of hurt and displacement.”

The festival is an opportunity for indigenous filmmakers to present their work and gain insight into other native perspectives from around the world.

Ngati Kuia Wehipeihana (Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Kūia) is tangata whenua in Ōtaki. Wehipeihana says, “While viewing the films I've been approached by people from Hawai'i, from Canada as well, we've sat together to explore and discuss issues that affect them and the similarities to issues affecting Māori.”

Māoriland Film Festival is putting on over 60 events from films, to workshops, to live-Māori art, and discussion of indigenous issues. There's a strong focus on youth development within the workshops, as well as a Masterclass for established filmmakers.

“It brings the indigenous people from around the world to this small town to Ōtaki to witness aspects of our Māori world”, says Ngati Kuia Wehipeihana.

How can Indigenous Film address social issues present in different communities?

'Āina Paikai says, “Everyone has their own particular issues that they're passionate about so I think that's what we're able to do just convey it in a thoughtful way and hopefully appreciate and take away the message.”

The festival concludes tonight with a festive celebration of indigenous film.