"Much further to go" on Aboriginal rights - Hugh Jackman

By Jessica Tyson

Australian actor Hugh Jackman has given his views on whether or not enough work is being done to celebrate and nurture Aboriginal people and culture. 

"My overwhelming feeling is there is so much work for us to do in understanding and actually coming together, and yes there's been a lot of efforts in that area.  We finally apologised 10 years ago but there's still so much further to go," he says.

Jackman was in Tāmaki Makaurau yesterday and shared his experience of working in indigenous communities with Te Ao Māori News.

As an 18-year-old he says he spent around four months in an aboriginal community.

Twenty years later he acted in the film Australia, about the Stolen Generations, aboriginal children who were taken from their whānau by the Australian government. 

Between 1910 and 1970, many indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families as a result of various government policies aimed at assimilating them.

"It was a part of Australia's history that we needed to talk about, to get out there and to be an actor in that and work with the indigenous community and community of actors, to be out there living in indigenous lands for weeks and months was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  It was something I'll never forget."

He says more work still needs to be done, "not just indigenous affairs but in terms of poverty around the world.  I definitely think the younger generation are leading this and demanding things in ways that my generation wasn't when we were young.  I find it absolutely inspirational."

Jackman and Keala Settle, stars of The Greatest Showman were in tears after receiving a haka yesterday from more than 100 students at AUT University in Manukau.

During the haka, Jackman and Settle stood side by side while the students from the Oceania Voices choir performed Tika Tonu.

“It was one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever experienced,” says Jackman.

The pair were in town to announce the New Zealand leg of Jackman’s The Man. The Music. The Show. world tour this September.