Māoriland have celebrated the first group of students graduating from their new Māoriland Tech Creative Hub (M.A.T.C.H) Animation Intensifier course.
After being inspired by a video game exhibition at Te Papa that she visited as a kid, Māoriland programme manager Madeleine de Young has spent the last two years developing the Māoriland Tech Creative Hub (M.A.T.C.H), a learning centre for rangatahi to use and unleash their creative thinking, develop problem-solving skills and creative solutions to the changing world around them.
There are three courses for students aged 12-24, M.A.T.C.H Kura Takawaenga (for rangatahi in Years 7-10 - piloted in term 4, 2020), M.A.T.C.H Wharekura (for NCEA students – planned to start in 2021) and M.A.T.C.H Intensifiers (for 18-24-year-olds).
The Animation Intensifier participants graduate with a M.A.T.C.H microcredential that recognises their achievement across a range of skills and is endorsed by Weta Digital, Adrenalin Group, Pūhoro Stem Academy, Victoria University and IndigiLAB in Australia.
After running the Māoriland Film Festival in March each year, staff from Māoriland spend their autumn visiting indigenous film festivals around the world.
"It's a really good opportunity to look at what other people were creating, to look at how other people were using technology and to start talking to the industry about the gap they need filling," Madeleine said.
"A few years ago we started noticing an increasing amount of animation, VR and video games made by indigenous creatives.
"Those technologies have been evolving and have become such a powerful tool for indigenous storytelling.
"It's immersive and it means you can take somebody throughout space and time in a way that we can't using linear film.
"We have all these young people in Ōtaki who are fluent speakers of te reo Māori, whose storytelling potential is just astonishing because they're been brought up in a storytelling environment."
Deciding they wanted to do something so these young people could develop their potential in the film industry as storytellers in their own home town, M.A.T.C.H was created.
"We don't have to do much. If we give them the tools and get out of the way, they will create it together."
From the onset, Madeleine and the Māoriland team started asking industry professionals what the current gaps are in the industry.
"We talked to Adrenalin Group, IndigiLAB in Australia, Gabo Arora, Weta Digital, Park Road, Jessica Hansell, and have picked the brains of a lot of others.
"We asked them what roles were they struggling to fill, and from there are creating these programmes involving animation, drawing, design and so on."
A big focus in designing the course was looking at how graduates could flow from study into work.
"We also want the rangatahi to feel like they have ownership of the programme and are empowered by it.
"We believe that our role in the programme is advocating for them throughout their careers and not leaving them to it after the 18 weeks.
"We will support them so they can have full, productive careers, where they are fully supported.
"We are here to bridge the gap and be an ongoing sounding board and advocate."
This year, all the student are completing their placements at Māoriland, after a grant from the NZ Film Commission enabled Māoriland to start their own production company during lockdown.
"We looked at our work flow and realised we could hire all the students ourselves."
The programme is subsidised by the Ministry of Social Development and supported by the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, with Māoriland topping up their pay to make the living wage.
After the success of the first intensive, there will be another intensive programme kicking off in January.