Oscar nominee Chelsea Winstanley named finalist in Matariki Awards

By Jessica Tyson

Oscar nominee and film-maker Chelsea Winstanley has been named a finalist for the Te Waipuna-ā-rangi award for arts and entertainment at the 2020 Matariki Awards.

Winstanley’s work includes the Oscar-winning film, Jojo Rabbit. She also has a production company where she aims to tell authentic stories from a cultural perspective.

“I have a saying at the moment ‘Do the why that makes you cry’ and I think the thing for me that does that is telling authentic Māori stories and anything that uplifts us and celebrates us as a community, as a people," says the Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi descendant.

Winstanley says filmmaker Merata Mita had a major influence on her.

“Later on in my career, I got to meet her and I never ever thought I would have the chance to meet her, let alone work with her."

Winstanley describes Mita as a pou (expert and guide) in the film industry.

“She’s taught us so many things. She’s instrumental in the beginning of Māori Television. Unfortunately, she died when we were doing a rough cut of a film that we made together so there’s a lot of love and a lot of connection there with Māori Television and Merata.”

Winstanley says story sovereignty is an important issue for her.

“It’s about ownership. It’s about Māori having authorship of the content but also making sure that we participate in everything from beginning to the very, very end.”

She says for non-Māori filmmaking can seem individualistic “whereas for Māori we’re all about community and we’re all about whānau, hapū, iwi so we just think differently,” she says.

“We have to make sure that it’s authentic that it’s ours and that it can't just be disseminated to the world without us in control of that kōrero.”

Winstanley is one of three finalists of Te Waipuna-ā-Rangi alongside Graham Tipene and Shane Cotton. The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on Māori Television from 8:30pm on Saturday, August 15 alongside a live Facebook feed.