NZ on Screen: Celebrating Matariki with milestone Maori screen moments

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NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner looks back at some of our most significant Maori films, music videos, and television shows.

Scenes from Ngati, music video for Moana and the Moahunters' AEIOU and Staunch.
Scenes from Ngati, music video for Moana and the Moahunters' AEIOU and Staunch.

Matariki, or Maori New Year, runs from this Saturday June 28 to July 28 this year. It's a time when Maori art and culture in its many forms is celebrated, and it's a good chance to take a look back at some of our most important Maori screen works.

The first New Zealand feature film written and directed by Maori, and with a significant Maori presence in cast and crew was Ngati, in 1987. The film was the first dramatic feature from respected Maori filmmaker Barry Barclay. Ngati was critically-acclaimed in New Zealand, and also attracted some international notice.

You can see the opening minutes of the film here:



Ngati was followed a year later by Merata Mita's Mauri. When she made the film, Mita became the first Maori woman to write, direct and produce a feature film. As with Ngati, the film had a strong Maori contingent on the production team, and played a key role in the burgeoning Maori screen industry of the time.

Watch an excerpt from the film here:



There have also been some significant milestones in the world of music videos by Maori artists. Upper Hutt Posse's E Tu in 1988 was New Zealand's first hip hop record. The stark and simple video for the song was directed by Upper Hutt Posse leader Dean Hapeta.

See the video here:

E Tu

The first NZ On Air-funded music video was also from a prominent Maori artist - AEIOU by Moana and the Moahunters, which was released in 1991. The song was a plea to Maori youth to preserve their culture by learning te reo.

You can see the video here:



New Zealand has a long history of Maori television production, both from the TVNZ Maori Programmes unit, and, more recently, from the Maori Television service. The launch of Maori Television 10 years ago was obviously a big milestone for Maori broadcasting, and it all began with this 30 minutes of live TV on launch day March 28, 2004.

See the opening minutes of Maori Television here:



Rounding off this look back at some great Maori screen moments, is the multi award-winning 1999 TV drama Staunch, featuring a cast of young Maori actors led by Once Were Warriors star Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell. The drama was written and directed by documentary-maker Keith Hunter, known for his work on miscarriage of justice stories. Staunch was inspired by real life events, and was an early screen credit for co-writer Toa Fraser.

You can watch Staunch in full here:



If you would like to see NZ On Screen's Matariki collection in full, you can see it here.

- NZ Herald

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