Moana Jackson Doco: remembering the quiet man of change

By Stefan Dimitrof

Moana Jackson, who passed away in March was a crusader in Maori criminal justice and constitutional reform and a passionate advocate for Maori until his very last days.

Now a new documentary directed by another Moana, award-winning Maori Television current affairs host Moana Maniapoto (Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa) is the last legacy of a true pioneer.

Maniapoto says “through my own work in law, and in that space, he was very much someone that was a mentor to many people. I was involved with him and a number of Waitangi tribunal claims and things like that.

“[He was] just a lovely lovely person."

The documentary is called Moana Jackson – A portrait of a quiet revolutionary. Maniapoto describes Jackson as a stealth bomber, "he could say motivating things to the people in the room and they would leave the room believing it."

Maniapoto said it took a lot of convincing to get Jackson to do the documentary as he was a person that was committed to the Kaupapa and not a selfish person.

"I said this was about the kaupapa!" 

Moana Maniapoto, with husband Toby Mills, has previously produced a documentary on Moana Jackson's older brother, Syd. She says that was what eventually got Jackson on board.

Jackson was a man of many talents having been a rugby coach at Wainuiōmata High School and a teacher. Maniapoto says that he was also a “neat freak and a goofy dancer”.

Jackson sadly passed away from cancer before seeing the documentary.

Maniapoto said that this documentary is to show there are people that “commit their lives trying to transform things for the better”.

“If they're really genuine about wanting a real conversation about important things, then they better come to the conversation armed and ready because it's been going on for a long time.

“The documentary shows how people went to Geneva to talk about the declaration of indigenous rights, the criminal justice stuff, it's just been going on for so long.”