Eruera Te Whiti Nia at Fale Matariki 2013

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(Pictured at Fale Matariki opening L Pita Turei, Kim Muriwai, Will Ilolahia, Eruera Te Whiti Nia)

Documentary Director/Producer/Artist Eruera Te Whiti Nia, lives on his ancestral land in Taputapuatea, Avarua Rarotonga and he was a keynote speaker at Fale Matariki 2013.

Erueras’ parents Te Ora o te Tangata Rangatira and Inanui i te Rangi raised him along with his twin brother Henere and three other siblings  near Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua, Wellington. His ancestor was Lieut-Colonel Eruera Te Whiti o Rongomai Love a Commander of the 28th Māori Battalion.

In 1957, when Eruera was 6 years old, his grandmother took him on an aeroplane to live at Parihaka. He was raised there until he was 9 years old. It was here as a young child that he first met many of the Taranaki kuikui that he would return 30 years later and film in the astonishing Taranaki treasure house documentary ‘ Te Atiawa o Runga Te Rangi.’

Erueras’ first foray into films were made in 1972 while a student of Rudi Gopas (Rudi was married to broadcaster Airini Grennell from Koukourarata, Ngai Tahu)  at Ilam School of Fine Arts, Canterbury University. Eruera left art school forming the Christchurch branch of ‘Ngā Tamatoa’ with Tame Iti. They were part of the Nga Tamatoa three week sit in protest on Parliament grounds that presented the 1972 Maori Language bill to parliament.

The next years were spent in protest and de-colonization activities. Eruera was active in the 1975 Maori Land March, 1977 Takaparawha – Bastion Point Land Struggle, 1978 Raglan Land Struggle, 1981 Anti-Springbok tour. During this time Eruera also maintained an active interest in the arts as a sculptor/carver part of Maori Artists and Writers – Ngā Puna Waihanga.

Eruera was introduced to John O’Shea, Pacific Films thanks to his friendship with Craig Walters (Crunch) in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Crunch was born and bred in Stratford, Taranaki and worked as Line Producer and Associate Producer at Pacific Films.

John O’Shea encouraged Eruera to write down his film ideas and Eruera began working for Pacific Films where he took a special interest in camera. Eruera was approached by Mrs Nicholas (Darcy & Garry’s mum) and encouraged to record the stories of the Taranaki kaumatua but it wasn’t until 1986 that Eruera was able with the help of Crunch and Pacific Films to complete that kaupapa.

In 1986 Eruera formed Rangiatea Films and Produced/Directed the 48 minute documentary ‘Te Atiawa o Runga te Rangi’ that was commissioned for TVNZ. A portrait of the remaining kuia and koro from Taranaki, they discuss in 100% Taranaki mita, their families, education and way of life.

On Tuesday 24 July 2013 Eruera traveled to Wellington thanks to NZ Film Archives and screened his films ‘Te Atiawa o Runga Te Rangi’ (1986) ‘ Huakina (1987) a look at the polluted seas and land in Taranaki due to oil drilling, ‘Nga Tai o Makiri’ (1987) a study of four Taranaki rivers, with three being almost destroyed due to dairy farming and oil drilling, ‘Te Ara Puoro o Aotearoa’ (1996) a portrait of long time colleague and fellow artist Hirini Melbourne to a largely Taranaki audience. It was around 1996 that Eruera returned to Rarotonga to care for his father after the death of his mother. Now that his father has passed, Eruera remains on their papakainga of Taputapuatea.

The Wellington reception for the films was overwhelming for Eruera made even more special by the presence of Crunch and his family and also Takau his daughter and partner with Erueras’ first mokopuna. After such a long absence from Aotearoa, it is hoped he’ll return to Parihaka to screen his films in August 2013.

Eruera returned to Rarotonga to resume filming his latest work on the Arikinui o Rarotonga that he began last year. He hopes to complete filming in all the outer islands of Rarotonga shortly. This month he will also travel to Canada with fellow sculptor Felipe Tohi (Tonga) for a symposium of Pasefika artists.

Sources: Conversations with Eruera Nia, Fale Matariki July 2013: Conversations with Craig Walters (1990 – present)  NZ Film Archives Wellington 24 July 2013 Eruera Nia Screening : Are Korero: Thesis Eruera Te Whiti Nia 2009

FALE MATARIKI – 20, 21 JULY

Ngā Wai ō Horotiu Marae, Auckland University of Technology

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Matariki is the Māori name of the Pleiades star cluster, which reappears on the night sky horizon each year in May or June. Its appearance heralds the ‘new year’ for Māori, the new season for planting and for starting new initiatives. Fale is the word ‘house’ that is shared by the indigenous peoples of  the South Pacific, whether it be whare (Māori), vale (Fijian), fale (Samoan, Tongan), hale (Hawaiian), fare (Tahitian), or ‘are (Rarotongan)

In 2013, ‘Fale  Matariki’ will bring together Māori and Pasefika film-makers, artists and educators, under the umbrella of one house, to celebrate and support each other’s work and develop strategies to build capacity for Māori Pasefika creative arts and screen production, and to take our work to a  global audience.

‘Fale Matariki’ is hosted by Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori Development at Auckland University of Technology, and is being organised by Dr. Ella Henry and film-maker Whetu Fala, of Fala Media.

This event is a collaboration between Ngā Aho Whakaari, the association of Māori in screen production, the Pacific Island Media Association, Pacific Islanders in Film & Television, Auckland Council and the Commonwealth Foundation (UK).

Also at this event will be the launch of “The Brown Book” a guideline and protocols handbook for film productions wishing to engage with Māori. It was written by the late Melissa Wikaire along with Dr Ella Henry made possible with the support of Ngā Aho Whakaari, NZ On Air and NZ Film Commission.

The event will comprise screenings of Pasifika and Māori films, archival and contemporary; workshops focussing on skills-development for the creative arts and screen production, and a forum in which to discuss strategies for building capacity, enhancing opportunities, and forging networks between and on behalf of Māori and Pasifika creative artists and film-makers, both in Aotearoa and the Pacific.

A key outcome of this gathering will be the development of a strategic vision for, and resultant infrastructure to foster a cohesive and comprehensive Pasefika Māori screen industry collaboration.

     Ngā mihi, fa’afetai lava, Fãi’åkse’ea,

thanks to;

                            PACIFIC ISLAND MEDIA ASSOCIATION                 

                     PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN FILM AND TELEVISION

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VENUE: Ngā Wai ō Horotiu Marae, Auckland University of Technology, cnr Wellesley street East and Symonds street, Auckland Central.

Entry to the marae is via the Māori gateway on the corner of Wellesley street East and St Paul Street, opposite the Subway.

Car parking is across from the marae in the Wilsons Unipark carpark 6 St Paul Street or around the corner in the Symonds street carpark.

Catch the Airport bus to Symonds street stop right outside the marae gateway and across the road for easy return to the airport.

Melissa Wikaire – Māori Filmmaker Gone too Soon

Melissa Anne Wikaire

                                    7 June 1970 – 7 May 2013

                                              Ngāti Hine

On Saturday 11 May 2013 at Takaparawha Marae, Ōrakei, Melissa’s final call sheet was published and she was laid to rest at the Urupa, Okahu Bay, Auckland. With over 500 gathered to farewell her; she is survived by partner Neil James and their whānau, Manaia and Waka. For all of us present on the cloudless sunny day it was a bittersweet occasion. Melissa was too young, talented and had just begun a new pathway in Rongoa Māori, convinced that this was the answer to her cancer. We mourn her passing and yet are grateful for the time we were lucky enough to spend with her, our colleague, our friend, and our sister, our beloved Mel.

Melissa in her short 42 years had attained her dream professional and personal life goals. She lived with her darling partner Neil on his papakainga in Ōrakei, their sons Manaia and Waka were doing well at school and their extended whānau rejoiced in their success.

In her professional life, Melissa was a programme Commissioner at Māori Television (MTS). A powerful position in NZ broadcasting (there being only 12 in total across all national channels) that her colleagues also held her in high regard was a rarity. This was due to her experience and expertise in all facets of production and also to her quiet, calm, practical approach. Melissa was universally liked, no mean feat in the fiercely competitive screen production sector.

Raised by her Mum Marion and step Dad, Tuia Brell, Melissa lived in a close knit and extended whānau household. It included five uncles and four generations, and as the oldest mokopuna, it was natural that Melissa after doing a rare media studies option upon graduation from Penrose High in 1987, gravitated towards a Māori focused film pathway.

1987 was a critical time in Māori screen production Ngati directed by Barry Barclay starring Wi Kuki Kaa and associate-produced and written by Tama Poata with John O’Shea had become the first NZ feature directed, written, produced and starring Māori to be selected for International Critics’ Week at Cannes Film Festival. This success enabled funding be made available for training young Māori in film & television careers,  including Don Selwyns’ He Taonga i Tawhiti course that Melissa entered in 1988.

He Taonga I Tāwhiti was run at Waiatarau Marae, Freemans Bay in Auckland. It was a six-month course funded by the then Māori Affairs (now Te Puni Kōkiri) Tu Tangata programme. Her classmates of the time have said theirs was the third six-month intake. Don, a founding member of NZ Māori Theatre trust and also a trained primary school teacher had made the switch to acting and was already a household name on NZ screens (TV – Pukemanu, Mortimers Patch; Film – Sleeping Dogs ). Don used all his contacts to get the best working film & television makers of the time for his trainees, some of these tutors included the legendary Dick Reade (Sound).

Melissa was one of only two women in her class of 10 trainees that included Dell Raerino, Lee Allison, Ted Koopu. After completing her training, at 18 years of age she landed her first three-month job on a feature film in Wellington, working as Continuity or Script Supervisor. This is a ‘self-charge’ position that demands an eye for minute detail and the ability to work closely with crew. From that first film, she worked hard to excel in that position, freelancing in mainstream and the fledging Māori film and television industry for ten years. She trained many of the current NZ continuity workers and before she was 30 years old, told me she had worked with 100 different directors.

At the same time as Melissa was starting her career, Don Selwyn encouraged all his trainees to engage in Māori film and television hui that Te Manu Aute were organising. Melissa attended the 1988 Te Manu Aute Hui at Hoani Waititi Marae in Auckland, and met Karen Sidney and Kara Paewai. These three were to become influential partners in later projects.

In 1989 Melissa was appointed to Te Ara Whakaata the first and only Māori film and television committee of Te Waka Toi, former Māori arm of Creative New Zealand. Her fellow committee members included Gabrielle Huria Wi Kuki Kaa, Anne Keating, Kara Paewai and Whetu Fala.

In their short 12 month existence the committee published three issues about Māori films and filmmakers in the Te Ara Whakaata magazine edited by Karen and Gabrielle and ran a national Māori film and television hui at Turangawaewae Marae, Ngāruawahia.

Melissa volunteered in Auckland and Karen in Wellington as the secretaries for Te Manu Aute and when Karen moved to Auckland in the late 80’s Kara Paewai took over in Wellington.

In 1993 Melissa and Kara published a world first – The Brown Pages a directory of Māori film & television crew. This is now an online directory that is edited by Iuelia Leilua.

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1993 Te Manu Aute Production Managers’ Course run by Jane Gilbert at Pacific Films, Wellington NZ  L – R Helen Morris, Karen Sidney, Melissa Wikaire, Sharon Hawke, Christina Asher, Kara Paewai, Ruhia Edna Stirling, Jane Gilbert.

In 1994 Melissa travelled to Dreamspeakers Festival Canada with writer Karen Sidney to screen and present the Don Selwyn drama ‘Kahu & Maia’ starring Cliff Curtis and Vanessa Rare . It won the top film award for Karen and earned Melissa the title of ‘Iniskimaki – Buffalo Stone Woman’ gifted to her by elder Joe Croweshoe, of the Blackfoot Peigan people.

In 1996 Melissa co-founded with Kara Paewai, Ella Henry and others,Ngå Aho Whakaari – Måori in Film and Television Melissa served as the secretary for the Executive till 1999 when she was appointed to the Short Film Fund of Creative NZ co-financed by NZ Film Commission. Her fellow committee members included, Sima Urale.

In 2000 Melissa stepped down from the Ngā Aho Whakaari executive and was selected to represent Māori filmmakers at the South Pacific Festival of the Arts in Noumea, New Caledonia.  Melissa and Ella raised the funds and organised the screening programme they called ‘Wāhine Whitiwhiti Ahua ki Kanaky.’ Filmmakers that attended included Karen Sidney and Ruhia Edna Stirling. Screenings were held in the festival village next to the Māori moko stall and also in the art gallery.

In 2001 Melissa co-produced the ‘Aroha Māori language 6 part half hour drama series. This series screened to critical acclaim in the 2002 NZ International Film Festival, Dreamspeakers Canada, Hawaii Film Festival, Message Sticks Australia and won Best Drama at ImagiNative film festival in Toronto, Canada. Also that year, Melissa was selected along with Lisa Reihana to represent Māori filmmakers and screen their work at the FESTIVAL DE CINÉMA DE DOUARNENEZ in France.

In 2006 she joined Māori Television where she produced several popular in-house series and trained a new generation of Māori broadcasters, before becoming a programme Commissioner.

Maunga Hiona - 4 feb Whiu!2013 Mt Zion Film World premiere; Melissa Wikaire with MTS Producer Teremoana Rapley – Urale

Her 500 production credits include crewing on television 1989 E Tipu e Rea (First Māori drama series), feature film 1993 Once Were Warriors, second television Måori drama series 1993 Ngā Puna series, television 1995 Xena Warrior Princess, first Måori language feature film 2002 Te Tangata Whai Rawa a Weneti – Måori Merchant of Venice 2006  Māori Television series Tau ke and 2012 Songs from the Inside.

Hoki ki ō matua tupuna, kua wheturangitia koe! Haere e hine, haere atu rā!

Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka

TATARAKIHI: CHILDREN OF PARIHAKA   Documentary Dir/Screenplay/Prod: Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph co-Dir/Screenplay/Prod: Janine Martin EP: Gaylene Preston Editors: Simon Price, Tracey Ederton Publicist: Sue May Cast: Ngā Tātarakihi ināianei. Dur: 65mins

Skycity Theatre, Auckland 4 August 2012

“E kore a hau e mate ka ore [kāore] a hau e mate, ka mate ano te mate.” I shall not die; I shall not die. When death itself is dead I shall be alive. I shall live forever. 1868 Tītikowaru

These words by Ngāti Ruanui military genius Tītokowaru written almost 20 years before the 1881 invasion of Parihaka by government troops seem to have been a prophecy written for the people of Parihaka.

This is a brave film by Joseph and Martin as they seek to present a significant Taranaki historical injustice of the peaceful resistance at Parihaka and the decimation of the people in 1881 with just over one hour of footage.

Te Whiti ō Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi tired of war, built a successful and thriving community, including a flour mill and a bank at Parihaka in the late 1870’s. In protest at the NZ Company who were stealing their surrounding land, the Parihaka people began to pull out their survey pegs and then plough it, to show the land was occupied and in use.

In 1881 anxious to secure land for the hundreds that were arriving daily, the settler government sent in the troops to stop the ploughmen. Eeriely, this same action was repeated by the crown in 1978 by the Muldoon led government against the Ngāti Whatua ō Orakei and again at Pakaitore by the Bolger led government in 1995 against Whanganui iwi. Following the lessons learned at Parihaka, the leaders of these iwi adopted the same strategy. Te Whiti and Tohu instructed the people to face the imminent invasion with peaceful resistance.

First, the children were sent to line the road of the Pa to sing with flowers to welcome the troops, next the women were told to give out bread and finally Te Whiti and Tohu with all the men were waiting, with no weapons, to be arrested.  Parihaka was invaded, burned down, women and children were maimed, killed and hurt and all the men taken away to Dunedin and forced into slave labour.

Filmed by the children and the directors, In 2010, just on 150 years after the start of the Taranaki land invasion, the children of Parihaka leave their homes at the Pa and retrace the journey that their imprisoned ancestors were taken on.

From the first stop at Tūtahi the whare karakia (Church) sited on Turangaika, the last stand of Titokowaru, the children are told its significance as a place that the returning Parihaka prisoners built to commemorate the laying down of all arms, to bring peace, it is clear that this will be no ordinary bus trip.

The ensuing journey to Dunedin and eventual return home is full of sorrow. At each stop,  the children are taken into the caves that their great-great-great-grandfathers were herded into and lived in and they are shown the roads, houses, buildings that the prisoners were forced to build.

No-one likes to watch suffering, pain and anguish least of all for our children, and that’s why this film is an important one. We are shown the Parihaka elders teaching their children what has happened in their past in order for them to survive and to build a better future.

Every New Zealander should watch and know the story of Parihaka and finally we have a film that does just that. Following in the footsteps of Te Whiti and Tohu, the filmmakers have placed the children at the forefront of this story.

You would think it a film full of grief and despair, instead, Joseph /Martin and their collaboration with the people of Parihaka and Executive Producer fellow long time peace activist, Gaylene Preston have brought into 2012 a film of hope for peace made by the people of Parihaka for everyone.

The continuing existence of Parihaka in 2012 and the fact that the children in this film are living on their ancestral land,  is proof that we, this nation, is capable of surviving our violent past.

Regardless of if we are Māori or Pākeha, we all want peaceful lives for ourselves and our families. Ironically, just like the people of Parihaka have done in the last 150 years,  it requires struggle, tenacity and a will to resist violence of all forms to achieve this. To paraphrase Titokowaru

” Peace shall not die; Peace shall not die. When death itself is dead, Peace shall be alive. Peace shall live forever.”

He mihi aroha ki ā koutou katoa ngā mōrehu ō Parihaka me ō koutou tāmariki, mokopuna hei whaia te kaupapa ō ō koutou mātua tupuna Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu. Toitū te rangimarie mo ake tonu ake!

Sunday 4 August 2012 at Skycity Theatre Screening of Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka

Back L-R Christina Asher, Rene Hawke, Sharon Hawke, Gaylene Preston, Whetu Fala

Front Heni Rangi