This chapter will provide a brief overview of aspects of tikanga Māori, the customs and protocols as they are practiced in contemporary society. The tikanga referred to in this chapter are most often associated with specific kawa or ceremonies, referring to welcome, farewell and other important traditions. It will then discuss a range of strategies for engaging with Māori in and for screen production.
MĀORI PROTOCOLS: TIKANGA MĀORI
Māori society has changed much since the signing of the Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840, the birth of the New Zealand nation. However, tikanga Māori remain the cornerstones of cultural knowledge and identity, and are a unique component of New Zealand society. Outlined below are some of the most prevalent tikanga that continue to be observed and participated in by an increasing number of New Zealand citizens. These tikanga provide a window into Māori culture. They are an intrinsic part of the wider context of Māori society, and are also being increasingly recognised as a salutary way to begin and enhance a relationship, bid farewell, and acknowledge the spiritual aspect of all human life.
The Pōwhiri is the formal welcome ritual, which will usually take place on the Marae, the centre of most Māori communities. However, formal welcomes can occur anywhere chosen by the tangata whenua, the people of that place, when welcoming manuhiri, visitors. The ritualized greeting is an important way of interacting with a visitor or newcomer, by not only welcoming them, but also acknowledging their ancestors. Each aspect of the Pōwhiri draws on different skills, attributes and people, thereby combining two communities, those who ‘welcome’ and those who are ‘welcomed’, in a set of activities designed to engender harmony and productivity. In a number of rohe (tribal regions), the allocation of roles in the Pōwhiri is gender, and age-based. That is, only women will karanga, only men will whaikōrero and only kaumātua and kuia will assume the key roles in the welcome, but this may vary in other tribal regions and in urban, multi-tribal areas. For example, women orators (kaikōrero) are more common among tribes of the East Coast of the North Island than in other parts of the country. Also, in Northland, men may assume the role of replying to the karanga. What follows is an overview of general practice, but local knowledge is important in guiding the use and application of tikanga Māori.
Photo 1: Manuhiri (guests) entering the Marae at Auckland University of Technology for the 2010 Ngā Aho Whakaari National Hui, led by Kuia Mabel Whare-Kawa Burt. Photo, Linda T.
As a general rule, Māori is the language of the Pōwhiri, though in some cases non-Māori will be invited to speak in their own language. The steps in the Pōwhiri may vary in different tribal areas, but will generally involve the following.
A Marae is a community centre, and the term is used similarly throughout Polynesia. The complex usually comprises a Whare Hui (meeting house) and Whare Kai (dining room and kitchen), which are separated because food is noa (common) and cannot usually be consumed in places where tapu (sacred) activities occur, such as acknowledging the deceased and welcoming the ancestors. The Whare Paku (ablutions block) is also separated from food and meeting houses. At the front of the Whare Hui will be the marae ātea, a courtyard and public forum. In some tribal areas the entire pōwhiri will be conducted on the ātea, whilst in other areas manuhiri are called into the Whare Hui, which may also be known as the Whare Tūpuna, because the house will carry the name of an ancestor. One example of an urban Marae is Waipapa, at the University of Auckland, opened in 1988. The Whare Hui is named Tane-nui-a-Rangi, who is considered to be an eponymous ancestor of all humankind, as one of the offspring of Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father), to show that the Whare Hui is a meeting place for all tribes and all peoples. The Waharoa (gateway) is the entry to the Marae complex, where manuhiri will wait to be called onto the Marae. It is normal for the women from the manuhiri group to stand at the forefront, to signify that the visitors come in peace. The men will stand behind the women until they are seated for the whaikōrero.
Photo 2: The Whare Hui, Te Purengi, at Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae, Auckland University of Technology. Photo, Te Ara Poutama
In most tribal areas, the first voice of welcome is the kāranga (call), which is a form of female oratory. The Kaikāranga, a wahine (woman), will call the manuhiri (visitors) onto the Marae. The Kaikāranga will usually be a kuia (female elder) or ruahine (mature woman). The Kaiwhakautu, one who is charged with replying, is in most areas a woman from among the manuhiri, who will return the call of welcome. Visitors will then proceed onto the Marae, at a slow and respectful pace, to take time to reflect on the ancestors and those who have recently passed away. Visitors will be directed to a place where they can sit for the duration of the Pōwhiri. It is at this point that men take the front seats, to protect the women during the Whaikōrero, when spirits and incantations are evoked.
The Wero is the challenge, which may be performed before an important ceremonial event for the community. This challenge is performed by men, often younger men who bear arms (either a patu, short spear, or taiaha, a long spear) as they are the vanguard of the host community. The primary purpose of the wero is to find out whether manuhiri come in peace. Thus, the challenge will be ferocious, but at the conclusion, the tane (male) will lay a taki (which can be a twig, feather or weapon) on the ground in front of the ope (the entourage of visitors). If a weapon is laid down as the taki, it is considered polite to pick it up by the body of the weopan, rather than the handle, which suggests warlike intentions. Whilst a taki can be laid down in front of a wahine, if she is the most prominent guest, it is always picked up by a tane. It is considered a great honor to represent one’s community by performing the wero, and young men train diligently to uphold the mana of the marae and its people.
Whaikōrero is an ancient form of oratory, in which speakers refer to their whakapapa, genealogy, as a means of weaving together the tangata whenua and manuhiri. The speakers, from both tangata whenua and manuhiri, sit at the front of the gathering facing each other, on what is known as the Paepae. In some areas this is called the Taumata. During the whaikōrero, the ancestors are called upon to bring harmony to the gathering, and those who have recently departed are given a farewell on their final journey to Te Rerenga Wairua, the jumping off place of the spirits, where they go to join the ancestors. After greeting the ancestors, the orators will turn to the living, and greet the visitors, share anecdotes about the tangata whenua and refer to the agenda for the gathering. After the orators from the tangata whenua have spoken, the orators from the manuhiri may reply. In some tribal areas all of the tangata whenua speak before the manuhiri. In other areas, speakers from both sides take turns, speaking alternately. In some Marae, and other community settings men may be asked to speak, even if in another language, as a sign of respect for the visitors. The offer to reply in a language other than Te Reo will be made by one of the speakers from the tangata whenua paepae.
Photo 3: Kaumātua (elders) and Kaikōrero on the Paepae at the 2010 Ngā Aho Whakaari National Hui: Ngamaru Raerino, Toby Curtis and Valance Smith. Photo, Linda T.
In some areas the whaikōrero will begin with karakia, ritual incantations in the form of prayers and shared communion. The majority of Māori define themselves as adhering to a Christian faith (Census 2006), so Karakia in some areas and locations will take the format of a Christian prayer, though amongst some communities pre-Christian forms of communion may be recited. This distinction can be termed as karakia that are Hāhi, church-based, or tūturu Māori (traditional). Whichever form they take, the opportunity for shared communion is an important aspect of veneration for the spiritual element in life, and Māori communities ask that non-Māori participants respect and appreciate that communion, regardless of religious persuasion.
The Koha means gift, the basis of the economy of reciprocity which is encountered across Polynesia. A koha can be included as part of the pōwhiri. This will usually involve the handing over of money (in an envelope) from the manuhiri to the tangata whenua, most frequently at the conclusion of the whaikōrero, to thank the hosts for their hospitality. The handing over of Koha is common when different groups of people come to, and meet, outside a Pōwhiri, and choose one of the elders who will speak on their behalf to give a koha on behalf of the whole group. The gifting of koha is less common when the manuhiri have booked a marae for a pōwhiri, because the cost of the pōwhiri is factored into the venue hire. For example, Marae are often used, and Pōwhiri are organised, when government agencies or corporations are engaged in consultation with Māori communities. If a production company wished to build or cement a relationship with a Māori community, particularly in a tribal region, they might engage a Māori consultant to organise a Pōwhiri. Therefore, the cost of the venue, catering and koha might be calculated as a single fee. However, the conferring of a Koha to the people of the Marae, during the Pōwhiri, would enhance the mana of the visitors, as generosity is a prized attribute of the Māori.
After each speaker, the group who came with and support that speaker, usually because they come from the same Iwi, community or organisation as the speaker, will rise to show their support for the whaikōrero by singing a waiata. Therefore, when attending a Pōwhiri in a group, it is always a good idea to be familiar with one or two waiata, so that you can tautoko (support) the kaikōrero with whom you are attending the Pōwhiri. (Refer to the Appendices for examples of waiata that are frequently heard at Pōwhiri and Hui)
Photo 4: The group stands to support the Kaikōreo with a waiata. In this case the speaker is renowned Māori artist Selwyn Muru, at a function at Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae. The singers (from left) are Whetu Fala, Ella Henry, Eliza Bidois, Moana Nepia and Claudette Hauiti, July 2012. Photo, Linda T.
At the completion of the whaikōrero the two groups, tangata whenua and manuhiri meet in the harirū, to cement the newly formed relationship between hosts and visitors. Visitors are invited to cross over either the marae ātea, or the Whare Hui and line up to harirū. Traditionally, the harirū involves a hongi, which is the sharing of mauri (spiritual life-force and breath) by touching noses. In some areas, the menfolk among the tangata whenua will hongi men and kiss women, in other areas all the tangata whenua, men and women, will expect to hongi. This is a situation that requires tact from visitors, who need to be open to the greeting style presented by the hosts. If they present their nose for a hongi or a kiss on the cheeks, it is good etiquette to respond accordingly, though from time to time there can be humorous exchanges as both groups decide on the appropriate harirū. Often these humorous exchanges serve to break the ice between two communities that did not previously know each other, so should be seen in a positive rather than an embarrassing light.
Photo 5: The hongi, between Jason Ryle, CEO of ImagineNATIVE, from Canada and Lawrence Wharerau from Ngā Aho Whakaari National, December 2012. Photo, Linda T
Once the Harirū have concluded, visitors will join the hosts and share Ka (food)i. The Hākari means a feast, not just of food but comradeship and entertainment. The sharing of food is an important and intrinsic element of the Pōwhiri ritual and the new relationships formed through shared participation in the Pōwhiri. The mana of a community may be measured the generosity of the repast.
In some communities the best foods that can be hunted, gathered and grown in that area will be lavished upon manuhiri. Sometime, during the kai, a group of performers from amongst the tangata whenua will perform waiata and haka to entertain visitors. It is considered good manners if, before the end of the meal, someone from among the manuhiri stands and thanks the ringa wera (literally meaning ‘hot hands’, the cooks and kitchen helpers). This gesture might also be followed by a waiata from the visitors. Thus, from the formalities at the beginning, to the festivities at its culmination, the Pōwhiri ritual has evolved to ensure that new relationships, between individuals and communities, have the best opportunity to be spiritually and socially rewarding.
Whilst the Pōwhiri is the full and formal welcome ceremony (kawa), usually taking place on a Marae, a Mihi Whakatau, is a less formal welcome that can occur anywhere. The Mihi Whakatau is the speech of greeting, without the other formalities. These types of welcome are a useful way of showing respect for tikanga Māori, without all of the other elements of the Pōwhiri, especially when a non-Māori group or organisation is welcoming a Māori group into their community or initiative. For example, if a production company wished to host members of a Māori community or tribal group, outside of their rohe (tribal region), as a precursor to a more formal relationship, they might host a mihi whakatau in their offices, to begin the engagement process. The mihi whakatau might comprise a karanga, whaikōrero, karakia, waiata, harirū and kai, or just a whaikōrero and harirū, all occurring in one room. These are decisions that can be made in discussion with the Māori consultant who is helping to facilitate the engagement with Māori.
A Hui is any gathering or meeting with a specific purpose. A Hui might occur on a Marae, but one might call a Hui in any setting. These meetings will take place after the formal welcome, and these are often far less structured by tikanga Māori. For example, one might organise a Pōwhiri at the beginning of a production. After the formalities and the Hākari, one might go straight into shooting. A production company, wishing to develop a relationship with a Māori community, might call a Hui in that community, in a public building or offices rather than on their Marae. This kind of event would enable the production company to show hospitality and largesse, to invite elders and community leaders to a gathering as a way of showing that the company understands and respects tikanga Māori. This can happen when one has appropriate advice from Māori in that community about where and when to call the Hui, how to disseminate invitations, what tikanga/protocols should be adopted, what songs might be sung, who should speak on behalf of the company and when. Under these circumstances, it is politic to ensure that senior management and key creatives are available to attend these events. It would be considered a snub, and diminish the mana of both the local community and the production company if the people sent to represent the company at a Hui, were individuals occupying junior and subordinate roles.
The word tangi means both ‘to cry’ and it encompasses the funeral rituals. The tangi is far more than a funeral. It gives a community an opportunity to share grief with the whānau pani (grieving family), to embrace them with aroha (love and empathy), and surround them with manaakitanga (generosity), to alleviate their grief. The tangi may last from three to seven days, depending on where the person dies, and how many communities ask for that person to spend time with them on their way to te rerenga wairua, the jumping-off place of the spirits, where we take our final leap to join our ancestors.
If the unfortunate situation arises where someone involved with a production passes away, the production company may be involved in some way in the funeral process, the tangi, for that person. There may also be a situation where a production will incorporate a tangi. Therefore, this discussion covers the tangi ritual and the importance and rationale of these tikanga.
Upon hearing of the death of friends or family, the word is spread quickly amongst a community. Family members will hope to travel, at short notice, to be with the tūpāpaku (deceased person). Someone from the immediate family will remain with the tūpāpaku until they can be taken to their kainga tūturu (home) and whānau urupā (tribal burial grounds). If a person dies a long way from their kainga tūturu, they may spend one or more nights at homes or Marae on their way home. If a person is connected to and much loved by different whānau, hapū or iwi, these groups may challenge the whānau pani for the right to bury them somewhere else. This has been the motive behind the ‘stolen bodies’ which have caused acrimony between Māori and non-Māori families. A recent example has been the case of James Takamore, who died in Christchurch in 2007. His body was ‘stolen’ by his Ngai Tūhoe whānau, and his Pākehā wife has taken a case all the way to the Supreme Court to have his body returned to his family in Christchurch (NZ Herald, 2012).
Once the tūpāpaku returns home, and at each resting place along the way, all of the tikanga pōwhiri are practiced. Each house, church or Marae that they arrive at will welcome the tūpāpaku and whānau pani, and will give them koha to help with the cost of the tangi. It is important, when carrying a casket into a building that the legs of the tūpāpaku are facing forward, as they are walking forward towards the building, not backwards.
Upon arrival at their final resting place, kainga tūturu, the local community will have been organised to host an unknown number of people, to ensure there are enough people to speak, whaikōrero, and call, karanga, and host the visitors. This places a huge burden on communities, often impoverished and rural, so it is incumbent on visitors to provide that community with financial support and any other assistance.
On the final night before burial, it is usual for people to stay up late, and regale all with tales that evoke tears, laughter and fond reminiscences. After days of intense grief, the final night provides light relief and an easing of pain. Those members of the whānau who have been chosen to dig the hole at the urupā will often leave the night before, and will not interact with anyone else until after the burial. In some areas, they will not eat again until after the burial. Their work is highly sacred and each step is blessed with appropriate karakia.
The days for the funeral may vary in different tribal areas, for some tribes burial on a Sunday is not appropriate. As a general rule, a person will be buried approximately three days after they pass away. This varies enormously, especially if people die a long way from where they will be buried. This is having increasingly negative impacts for people who cannot take leave from work, or workplaces that find it hard to replace someone for many days on end. An unfortunate outcome of contemporary society is that many whānau are torn between their obligations to the deceased and to their work. When production companies are understanding of these tensions and can be flexible with their Māori cast or crew, they will be rewarded with the gratitude of the whole whānau.
At the conclusion of a Pōwhiri, or Hui, there will be the ritualized farewell ceremony, the poroporoaki. This tikanga of the poroporoaki is similar to mihi, but compressed. A speaker or speakers from the manuhiri will thank their hosts and speakers from the tangata whenua will bid their visitors goodbye and happy travels. After each speaker, there will be waiata, and the poroporoaki will conclude with hongi. The poroporoaki ritual is also being used increasingly to farewell staff, or at the conclusion of a production, usually before the wrap party.
Apart from the specific rituals outlined above, there are a number of practices that are a norm in Māori homes and communities. It is considered polite to remove one’s shoes when entering Māori settings. This is because the traditional whare (building) was the representation of a tūpuna, or ancestor, so walking barefoot in these environments shows respect for the ancestors. Furthermore, Māori do not sit on any surface where food might be consumed, though that is more a sanitary matter, as keeping ones anus separated from food is commonsensical. The head is a sacred part of the human body to Māori, so we do not step over each other’s heads, if people are sleeping on mattresses on the floor, a norm on the Marae, or touch the heads of others, unless we have a close relationship with those individuals. Another tikanga involves sacred keeping things separate, such as bedding and foodstuffs. A recollection from Christina Asher involving Tungia Baker on the set of ‘Open House’ (a TV series, produced in the 1980s), and relates to Tungia advising the production team that blankets should not placed in the same container with food in any scenes, which was a surprise to many of the crew, who at that time had little experience with tikanga Māori on the screen. At that time, production companies had no requirement of obligation to engage Māori advisors and consultants, or ensure the cultural safety and integrity of their Māori actors, crew and stories. Thus, taken in combination, an awareness of any of these tikanga and kawa will facilitate relationships with Māori and their communities.
ENGAGING WITH MĀORI IN SCREEN PRODUCTION
Engaging with Māori people and communities can involve a variety of relationships. If you or your production company already has a relationship with Māori, you will develop your own engagement strategies. If, however, you do not, this section may provide a useful starting point for thinking about how, when, where and with whom engagement with Māori might evolve.
We would urge those who are looking to develop relationships with Māori to draw on the expertise and networks of the organisations referred to throughout this Chapter. First and foremost, Ngā Aho Whakaari can provide introductions and networking opportunities. However, there are a range of other organisations with whom production companies can interact, for example whānau (extended family, kinship groups), Hapū (sub-tribe), Iwi (tribe), and Rūnanga (tribal organisation), which operate around the country, and many can be found through existing networks and databases. Furthermore, film and television industry bodies, such as the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, Film New Zealand and Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Broadcasting Authority, can all facilitate the development of relationships with Māori. Personal networks, into and with Māori communities always provide rich and fruitful opportunities for engagement.
Māori as Partners
There is little published material that focuses on formal relationships and partnerships between Māori communities (whānau, hapū, and iwi) and non-Māori screen production companies. Niki Caro (2003), the non-Māori director and screenwriter of ‘Whale Rider’ has spoken of the relationship she formed with the community of Whangara, of Ngāti Porou, during the development of the script and production of the film. However, the film received criticism from some Māori commentators (e.g. at the SPADA Conference in 2002) because of its lack of a Māori director and producer. Further, Leotta (2011) has written about its co modification of Māori culture and landscape.
More recently, ‘White Lies/ Tuakiri Huna’ is a feature film due for release in 2013 that was produced by South Pacific Pictures with a Mexican screen writer/director, Dana Rotberg. A relationship was forged between individual members of Ngai Tūhoe, in particular Whirimako Black, who played the lead role. Ngamaru Raerino translated the original script into Māori, and others in Tūhoe, including Whirimako, added their own tribal voice to the translation. However, the production was not without its dramas, as the producer and director worked through their relationship with Iwi in the remote Urewera locations.
However, whānau, hapū and iwi are becoming more proactively involved in communications and media, particularly as a consequence of Treaty settlements. Thus, more opportunities for relationships between Māori and non-Māori productions may arise in the future. For example, Ngai Tahu is a tribe that has taken a very proactive approach to the development of their communications strategy, with the creation of a media production entity to produce programmes for the Iwi in the new millennium. Tahu Communications has produced a number of shows for Māori Television, including, four series of ‘Waka Reo’, a reality show focusing on Te Reo, ‘Kōtahi Mano Kaika’, about the tribal Māori language strategy, an animated production entitled ‘Kai Tahu Creation’, and forty episodes of a Hip Hop show co-produced with Whitebait Television. Ngai Tahu (2010) has also worked with SPADA to produce guidelines for filming in their tribal area.
The tribes of the Tainui waka (canoe) in the Waikato region are developing a media and broadcasting strategy, and Ngāti Whātua, one of the tribes of the Auckland Isthmus, has setup a media and communications infrastructure. Added to this, a number of Iwi operate radio stations, which add to their media and business skills, whilst providing an important vehicle for communicating with their people. Therefore, in coming years, the opportunity to work collaboratively with Māori as partners and investors in screen productions may become more common. Thus, opportunities for the development of relationships between Iwi and the screen industry are to be encouraged.
A number of individual Māori, and Māori production companies, have developed partnerships for non-Māori productions. For example, Tainui Stephens co-produced the feature film River Queen (2005) in a partnership arrangement. Also, ‘Black Inc Media’ is a production company owned by Māori producer, Bailey Mackey, whose company has a close relationship with ‘Eyeworks’, most notably in the production of television series such as ‘One Land’ (2009) produced for TVNZ and ‘The GC’ (2012) produced for TV3, with a second series being funded by Te Māngai Pāho. Other partnerships include the relationship between ‘Hula Haka Productions’ and ‘Screentime’, in the production of the ‘Marae DIY’ (renamed AIA Marae DIY in 2013) series for Māori Television, and ‘Kura Productions’, who produce ‘Tōku Reo’ for Māori Television, has a close relationship with ‘South Pacific Pictures’, which produces TV soap ‘Shortland Street’ and feature films such as ‘Whale Rider’.
In each case, these partnerships have grown from the relationships between key people in both organisations that have been nurtured over time, and resulted in opportunities for the creation of films and television series that might not otherwise have been possible. Each of the productions has provided opportunities for Māori to build their skills and networks in the screen industry through relationships with larger organisations, and presumably has been of value to those organisations, over and above purely financial reasons.
Māori as Key Creatives
The key creative roles of writer, producer and director are at the heart of any screen production. Māori have developed impressive reputations writing, producing and directing work of national and international renown. The earliest among them, Barry Barclay and Merata Mita often struggled to have their films funded and broadcast because their work peered into often unfamiliar territory for mainstream New Zealand audiences. Barclay was the first Māori to direct a series for television, the Tangata Whenua TV series in 1974. The series presenter, Michael King (2004) wrote that the series broke the mono-cultural mould of New Zealand television. Mita, who produced and co-directed Bastion Point: Day 507 in 1978, and went on to direct the feature film, Mauri, in 1987. Don Selwyn created the He Taonga i Tawhiti film and television course, then went on to produce television dramas and the first Māori-language feature film, the Shakespeare play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (2002), which had been translated by Pei Te Hurunui Jones in 1945. In 2012, another play by Shakespeare, ‘Troilus and Cressida’ was translated and performed at the Globe Theatre in London. These individuals created pathways for later generations of Māori in key creative roles.
Furthermore, Māori have collaborated on other feature film and television productions. For example, Once Were Warriors (1994) was written by Alan Duff and the screenplay written by Riwia Brown. It was directed by Lee Tamahori. The film Whale Rider (2002) was drawn from a Māori story by Witi Ihimaera, and River Queen (2005) was co-produced by Tainui Stephens. In the television arena, Ray Waru (producer, Our People, Our Century, 2000; Frontier of Dreams, 2003) and Tainui Stephens (producer, Māori Battalion, 1990; The New Zealand Wars, 1998) have been instrumental in producing and directing landmark series drawing on Māori people and stories. With the advent of Māori Television in 2004 a new generation of Māori writers, directors and producers are developing their skills and commitment to Māori story-telling in screen production.
For Māori these creative roles are fundamental to telling a Māori story in an authentic Māori voice, what Barclay has termed Fourth Cinema (Murray, 2008). However, there are many other films and television series that have utilized a Māori voice, to a greater or lesser degree. When seeking to develop a production based on a Māori story, we would encourage non-Māori production companies to seek out Māori writers, producers and directors, to collaborate with from the outset. For those who are new to New Zealand, as in the case of international productions, that might seem time-consuming. However, we argue that it will also result in the most positive outcomes, in terms of getting to know the people, the places and the stories.
Māori as Consultants
When planning a production that has a Māori component, particularly drawing on the Māori language, the use of Te Reo consultants is strongly recommended. Te Reo consultants are often Māori language teachers and experts, who can assist with different tribal dialects and colloquialisms. Productions that have been funded by Te Māngai Pāho have strict criteria around the expertise of Te Reo consultants. There will also be tribal variation to consider when engaging Te Reo consultants, so knowledge about the correct dialect for the location of the production is important.
Māori have also been engaged as co-writers, or script consultants for Māori story-lines. Brad Haami and Ngamaru Raerino have acted as script consultants on a number of productions, e.g. TV dramas, ‘The Man Who Lost His Head’ (2007) and ‘Tracker’ (2010); TV series, ‘Mercy Peak’ and ‘Kaitangata Twitch’ and the soap series ‘Shortland Street’. Brad discussed the importance of a Māori script consultant at a Script to Screen Seminar in 2011. Haami (2012) stated:
“The script for Tracker was written by a South African and the producer asked Brad to read the script. “I told him it was a bad film and not to make it. The lead Māori character could have been French or Australian. There was nothing Māori about him. But the film was going to be made, regardless of whether we were involved in it or not. It would have been worse without our input because it would have lacked truth.”
That input was time consuming and intensive as Brad struggled to maintain Māori integrity in the film. He went on to note that, “We had to create a huge story behind the lead character to provide the motivation for his actions in the film. It’s really hard when you have to do a fix-up job like that later. We had to determine the whole genealogy for the character, why he is here, where has he come from, and why is he running? I sat down with the director and producer and asked, “Where is he running to?” They didn’t know so I told them this Māori fellow is running to his tribal boundary, to his mountain”.
This is one example where engagement with Māori consultants provided a film and its characters with a depth that resonated for Māori, as well as the film producers. However, there have been other films that have been criticised for their lack on consultation with Māori about the way the people and culture are presented. For example, Pihama (1994) critiqued the Jane Campion film, ‘The Piano’ (1993), when she stated, “There is little doubt in my mind that Jane Campion is a film maker of incredible ability and repute. However, the depiction of Māori people in the film leaves no stereotyped stone unturned. What we have in ‘The Piano’ is a series of constructions of Māori people which are located firmly in a colonial gaze, which range from the ‘happy go lucky native’ to the sexualized Māori woman available at all times to service Pākeha men”.
These examples serve to highlight the important role that Māori consultants can fulfill on international screen productions. We would also argue that, by not engaging Māori, by not ensuring an authentic voice for a story about Māori, a production runs the risk of creating shallow and inauthentic stereotypes that teeter from laughable to outright racist. The audience of the new millennium has greater access to world media than at any previous time in human history, with an equal level of sophistication and knowledge about the world at their fingertips. For this audience, the authenticity, honesty and integrity of story-telling in screen production is a valuable asset, that is noticeable when absent.
Māori as Sub-Contractors & Employees
There is a growing body of Māori working right across the screen industry. The 2006 Census identified almost 1,000 Māori screen practitioners, approximately ten percent of the industry. These people have expertise in all the major craft areas, from production office to on-set, in front of and behind the camera. Included among these crews are DOP’s, camera operators, gaffers, grips and art department who have worked on many major international productions of recent decades (Hercules, Xena Princess Warrior, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Hobbit). This is equally true in the production office, where there is a growing number of by Māori line-producers and production managers with extensive film and television expertise. These people are hired because of their screen industry expertise, not their ethnicity. However, they can also provide a useful conduit into Māori communities, though they should not been seen as a fast and cheap alternative to developing a durable and lasting relationship with Māori.
ENGAGING WITH MĀORI COMMUNITIES
Working in and with Māori Communities
Working in and with Māori communities might involve filming on Māori-owned land, using a Māori community as part of the pool of talent, telling a story about Māori and their community, or drawing on a story that uses the Māori language. At the beginning of a production that involves Māori language, culture and stories, the producers may wish to engage with Māori, and may do so in a variety of ways. Having Māori people amongst the key creative team will facilitate relationship-building with Māori communities, especially if those key creative talents share tribal links to that community.
Gathering news in a community that is predominantly Māori is a common occurrence for the television, radio and print media is New Zealand. With only a relatively small news community, many of the same journalists cover stories in and with Māori communities. For those new to New Zealand, the main television news teams are from TVNZ and TV3, though Prime TV has a news service. As a general rule, the journalists and crew going into Māori communities are non-Māori. This is not necessarily true of crews from the TVNZ Māori news, Te Karere or the Māori Television news, Te Kaea.
It has been noted that New Zealand media and news have shown bias in reporting Māori issues (Spoonley, 1990; Nairn et al, 2006). Whilst overt, or covert, racism may have a profoundly negative impact on the wellbeing of the targeted community one of the frequently heard complaints in Māori communities is about the lack of knowledge of Te Reo Māori, and the seemingly cavalier attitude of journalists who make no effort to pronounce Māori names or words correctly. In recent years, this has been changing, and Te Reo Māori Week is often used by broadcasters as an opportunity to use the Māori language more, and more appropriately. For many years, the journalists at Radio New Zealand have led the way in New Zealand media for exemplary pronunciation of Te Reo Māori. For many Māori, this respect for the language is highly regarded and gratefully acknowledged.
Film and Television Production
Film and television production teams in New Zealand, whether documentary or drama, tends not to spend sustained periods of time in predominantly Māori communities, either rural or urban, except when on location. The growth in ‘reality television’ shows has meant that increasing number of crews are going into Māori homes, Marae and other settings. There has also been a rise, in recent decades, of films being shot on location, which often means a longer period of time in the community. Recent examples of films shot in New Zealand were the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies, both of which spent extend periods around Matamata, the tribal homeland for Ngāti Haua and Ngāti Raukawa. Interestingly, no-one from either of these productions was reported as engaging with those Iwi, but if they had, they would have encountered communities with a rich understanding of the people and places.
When productions do come into these places with sensitivity towards, and understanding of tikanga Māori, it is acknowledged with gratitude. This may mean spending a little extra time in pre-production, getting to know the people and places within the community where the production will occur. It may also mean vetting of crews beforehand to ensure that they have familiarity with and respect for Māori people, communities and protocols. Finally, when these productions do involve Māori, it is best for all concerned that a Māori person or persons are able to broker those meetings, and are present in the crews to facilitate relationships and ensure the mana of the production and the community are enhanced.
Intellectual Property, Use and Ownership
When shooting footage and interviews in and with Māori communities, as with any community, waivers are an important tool for ensuring that people who agree to be filmed are notified of the terms and conditions of filming. However, production companies hold all the power in these relationships, as they define the terms included in the waivers and consent forms. We would urge production companies, especially when interviewing Māori elders and experts, to be sensitive to the fact that they are being gifted with sometimes ancient knowledge and traditions. Without trying to interfere with the intellectual property rights of producers, we suggest that production companies would be making a useful and powerful contribution to those communities if they made available the footage that they shot in those communities. Interviews with kaumātua and kuia (male and female elders), or shots of the landscape, which for Māori is the personification of their ancestors, are taonga (precious objects) for those communities. That is, maunga (mountains), whenua (land) and moana (sea) are named after ancestors or important events in tribal history, and are the physical representation of those people and events. Therefore, images and reproductions of these sites hold spiritual and cultural significance for those communities, and any footage taken of them becomes a part of the tribal repository of knowledge, mātauranga Māori.
Archiving Māori Imaging
Archiving of Māori imaging may or may not be part of the agenda for a production. However, it is an issue of importance for many Māori in screen production and for Māori communities. That is because these images are a part of their tribal legacy and revitalisation of their history and culture. This issue has been highly contentious for Māori. Barry Barclay’s book, Mana Tūturu (2005), focused on Māori treasures and intellectual property rights, and issues relating to law, ownership, and sovereignty and archiving. He looked at IIPR (indigenous intellectual property rights) and, according to Shorter (2007), how the IIPR protections often failed, “to address the real, living relationships maintained by people with their land, arts, oral traditions, literatures, designs, fauna, flora, seeds, medicines, sciences, and technologies”. Shorter goes on, “Barclay reminds the reader again and again of the real emotional hurt and violence that comes from being dispossessed of one’s animals, plants, land and even ceremonial art designs”. He quotes Barclay, who wrote, “Are not these things we value, concrete and abstract, ancient and modern, are they not called taonga by us? Treasures in the English? Treasures, some of them, with a mauri. We once had taonga. We once had guardians. We once had keepers. What we have now, if we are to believe what we hear, are owners. What we have now are properties” (2005, p. 65). Further, Barclay wrote in Mana Tūturu that, having made films in both Māori and Pākehā worlds, that with Pākeha film, the main period of glory occurs when a film is released, but with Māori work, the film increases, in vigor and relevance, as the decades pass.
Thus, different perceptions between Māori and Pākehā of imaging and screen production has exacerbated tensions between the two groups on how to archive, protect and make available footage that is considered by Māori to be taonga. This is particularly evident in the relationship between Māori and the state broadcaster, TVNZ, who for over fifty years have been recording and archiving footage of Māori people, culture and events. This footage is available to anyone who pays the fees; regardless of what that Māori community might think about the ways those images are used. Fees are also charged to the individuals and their descendents who were filmed, whether the filming involved their people, their lands, or their taonga. Ngā Aho Whakaari, and before it Te Manu Aute, advocated for decades to have Māori archived and treated separately, with acknowledgement of joint ‘ownership’ and ‘guardianship’ of that footage, which has yet to occur.
However, this does not have to be the case in the future. Film and television production companies that draw on Māori people, culture and stories could form alliances with those communities to ensure that footage is archived for and available to future generations of those communities, in recognition of the relationship between the production company and the Māori community, and as a contribution to the legacy of those tribes and their communities.
Throughout this book, we have argued that knowledge about the Māori world, our language, culture and history is a precursor to a more beneficial relationship, one that will enhance screen production, and provide the basis for richer and more meaningful story-telling. We hope that the arguments we have presented are persuasive and conclusive, and that readers of this book will take the opportunity to meet us and embark on a journey and a relationship that will expand both your and our horizons.