AROMAI – Maori Film Reviews
Kia ora tatou nga iwi o te motu, me korero tuatahi ki te matua papa i te rangi. Tuarua, mihi ki te whare o te Irirangi Koori nei me te whenua o Poihakena. Kia mihi tautoko ki te tangata whenua o nga iwi Moemoea I tenei wa mo ou mamae mo te tahaitia o ona whenua. Ki nga mate o te wahanga nei, haere, haere, haere ki ou tupunua whare. Tena koe rangatira kai korero me kai waiata Jase me mihi mahana ki tou mahi rangatira. Tena korua Tane me Warren pai te tutaki i te wa pu nei. E karanga nunui atu ki te whaea Kimberly buttons talofa lava.
It’s a real honour to be here spending time sharing something that Maori are well known for – telling stories, not tales but stories. Historically and culturally that’s how Maori pass information on and I’m really excited because this is an area that Maori have excelled in especially when you think of Once Were Warriors but even before that the film Ngati which was the really the first film that Maori produced, directed and Maori were predominant in the cast in front of the camera as well as crewing behind the camera and on set.
I want to share with your listeners Jase that, there’s a real buzz at the moment about Maori films being made here in Poihakena. Last year at Aotearoa Maori Film Festival in Sydney and Brisbane we showed two locally made films “Home” by Apirana Ipo Te Maipi and “Big Bachelorettes Got Cooking Talent” a mockumentary directed by Tema Kwan Fenton whom I just met last year where our kids are at kohanga together at Te Wairua Tapu. Apirana has a new film just about to be released about a young NRL player who is played by none other than James Rolleston of “Boy” and “The Dark Lands” fame. By all accounts this looks like he’s really into telling stories that are close to our hearts here in Australia but relevant to Aotearoa as well.
If anyone of the listeners was lucky enough to get along to the preview of “Million Dollar Mate” at Te Wairua Tapu Church the film that starred local muso and actor Adam Saunders and (drum roll) Holywood actor Keisha Castle Hughes a couple of years back you’ll be happy to know – that it has been recut and re-coloured and is about to be relaunched as “Find Your Voice”. Adam had a hand in directing and producing the film and revealed how he told a story to lure the star of “Whale Rider” and more recently “Game of Thrones”, Keisha Castle Hughes into the no budget film. Keisha turned up on set after agreeing to be in the movie only to find that the co star was also one of the crew of two. The crew handled everything from camera, makeup and props. The film was shot entirely on one Cannon DSLR camera, so it’s a testament to entrepreneurship, hard work and passion that the film ever got made at all let alone with a Holywood headliner in it.
Essentially the story follows Elvis, a Maori boy in Sydney trying very hard but unsuccessfully to make it in the entertainment world. Elvis wins lotto and decides to go back to Aotearoa to reconnect with whanau. Along the way he meets up with his Uncle none other than Herbs legend Tama Lundon (who plays himself in the film) – and is his uncle in real life. Elvis meets shysters who just want to take his money as well as Princess played by Keisha Castle Hughes who is more than just the kapa haka performer than Elvis sees. Princess hides some secrets that are dark and Elvis gets caught in the middle.
Elvis has Roadie, his faithful sidekick who acts as his conscience guiding and grounding him. The film is shot and produced by a film maker Chris Herd. Consequently the cinematography is absolutely fantastic and shows Aotearoa off exceptionally well – possibly Tourism New Zealand should be looking at this to promote the country.
I think the recut version carves out a great story from what was essentially many stories bundled into one. It reveals a view of Maori living in Australia and what many of us dream of doing – going back to Aotearoa and being with whanau, sharing and giving back. The music too, is fantastic with legand Ian Moss (from Cold Chisel) playing a cameo role, Herbs (playing themselves) as nga kaumatu of music in Aotearoa and Thomas Stowers whose a big noise in the entertainment industry in Aotearoa ; he’s a giant of a man with a monster of a voice to match.
Let me also take you to Deadlands – I know the movie has previewed in Sydney already but I want to talk a little about it and how significant it has been on the industry and Maori in general especially because it is entirely in Te Reo. My wife and I were at the Sydney Premier at Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park. My take on the film was not directly connected to the film but how the film affected the audience as a result of seeing it.
Immediately following the film I was acutely aware of the conversations many were having yearning to learn more about their culture, their language and customs. So in this sense the movie had an overwhelmingly positive effect upon the viewer regardless of the blood and violence. We found ourselves walking away trying to korero Maori to everyone and anyone that we bumped into.
The other prevalent theme was honour. This theme reoccurred throughout the movie even in the battle scenes. Honour was at the heart of the actions of the boy and honour drove the two other main characters. It’s not by chance that Maori are asking the government to honour the treaty. Even though the theme is portrayed in a Hollywood type movie it is an aspect that is a central theme to the lives of Maori ancestry.
The Moonlight Cinema is a fantastic location and although Telstra, with whom I have constant battles over poor service, were advertised all over the screen, it was not enough to distract from the balmy night sky and excitement of watching the premier of a New Zealand film under the stars here in Sydney.
Of course there are always things that one cannot help but see that are negative and the one thing that really got to me was the people bringing their mobile phones out and obviously recording the film. Once again (and unfortunately) these folk were Maori the very people who should be protecting and supporting these taonga. Because taonga this film is.
I know that there are a number of projects coming to our screen soon and hear that Taika Waititi is shooting his new film in the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland as we speak. Transmission Films have been great in providing access to preview of films such as Dark Lands, Dark Horse, Boy and White Lies – they were also kind enough to allow us three copies of Boy to give away tonight so if anyone wants these they can post on Puha and Pork Bones website and the first three can get a copy of this iconic movie.
So until next time, thanks for having me on the show and thanks for listening in. Noho ora mai this section is called Aromai and I’m Brent Reihana.