New He Ao Kotahi web series explores similarities between Māori & other indigenous cultures

By Dean Nathan

There will be an official launch in Northland this evening for a new web series known as He Ao Kotahi.  This particular series follows a local Waitangi-based artist Paitangi Ostick who recently travelled to Palestine to meet the indigenous peoples and experience their culture and its similarities to our own.

Despite already being an experienced traveller of the world, Paitangi says going to Palestine was probably the biggest experience of her life, "You'd go somewhere and you'd see all the woman would disappear straight away and they just know that's their tikanga - not to be photographed or filmed or anything.  So to be able to talk to the men first who then allowed me to talk to the women it was really cool.  It was such a privilege to be invited into their homes and they're very humble."

Shirley Allen of Whitiora Productions says their focus was to meet the indigenous peoples and experience their culture through their arts, "For us, it wasn't about victims or martyrs it was just about one indigenous group to another talking about culture talking about what we had to do to get to where we are today.  Sadly, also sharing the stories of what we had to give away and what we had to put down and leave behind.  So a story of loss but also mostly I think of survival and success.  We're still here despite all these challenges." 

It was a self-funded production but Te Mangai Paaho saw the value of telling indigenous stories through an indigenous lens and subsequently provided funding assistance to create the web series that will be launched this evening.  

An established Māori artist skilled in a range of disciplines including painting, carving, sculpting and weaving, one particular highlight for Paitangi was meeting a centurion woman with a traditional facial tattoo. 

Paitangi says, "I was interested to know if they had any of their indigenous Bedouin that was still carrying facial tattoos.  I guess for me it was like why were they tattooed and how were they tattooed and if they still had the tattoos.  So that was a big pull for me to be able to go to the Middle East."

The hope is that series like He Ao Kotahi will help address the mis-portrayal of indigenous peoples.

For more information on He Ao Kotahi, check out their official facebook page and their new website