"Spectacular" river life footage to be screened

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A scene from Scenes of Maori Life on the Whanganui River.
A scene from Scenes of Maori Life on the Whanganui River.

The first public screening of the newly restored 1921 film Scenes of Māori Life on the Whanganui River is on Tuesday at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

The film has been restored and scanned by conservators at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision - the national audiovisual archive.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision kaiwhakataki/programme coordinator Lawrence Wharerau said it was improtant that "we first return this film to the iwi of Whanganui, whose ancestors' lives and images are recorded".

He said the images had regained clarity and freshness with the restoration work.
"It's a spectacular piece of footage that brings the past to life."

The original film was shot in 1921, when Elsdon Best, Johannes Anderson and James McDonald of the Dominion Museum spent several weeks at Koriniti, Hiruharama and Pipiriki in the Whanganui River valley.

Te Rangi Hiroa (Dr Peter Buck) joined them for a few days at Koriniti.

The scenes record games, crafts such as dyeing and weaving, cultivation, fishing, the making of hinaki for eels, the setting of traps and divinatory rites such as niu and raurau.
Mr Wharerau said back in the 1920s, film was silent and the local cinema experience relied on a narrator and musicians.

The Whanganui screening will follow this spirit, narrated by Mr Wharerau and accompanied by traditional musical instruments - taonga pūoro.
Scenes of Māori Life on the Whanganui River and other films shot by James McDonald are part of the Taonga Māori collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

The film screens tonight (July 19) at 6pm at the Whanganui Regional Museum, and entry is by koha.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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