An international web series produced by local digital creatives is wanting to change how indigenous girls see themselves and their world.
Fierce Girls will be told through the eyes of Te Arawa/Ngāpuhi character Anika Whatu, played by Kaea Taurere, and Canadian Cree Indian Kisik Daniels, played by Jenine Yuksel, as they navigate the newly-discovered superpowers their ancestors gifted them.
Geography may separate the two girls, aged 16, but the power of indigenous storytelling and the international cultural connection bridges their shared journey.
Digital Natives Academy co-founder Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule, who led the Kiwi production team, said her 10-year-old daughter and 11 nieces needed content like Fierce Girls.
"It shows them that you can draw power from your tikanga, from your tupuna, but it's real too, we deal with homelessness and racism but our girls use indigenous ways of being to find solutions to the challenges they face."
Various social media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, as well as live action and animation will be used to tell the story.
Biasiny-Tule said the collaborative project, which involved a team in Canada and a South Korean director, was mostly made up of Bay of Plenty locals, including Steambox Films founder Tim Worrall, Velvet Stone Media director Lara Northcroft and Rotorua playwright Turene Jones.
"We are using as many local digital creatives as possible, and have worked with over 25 Māori content creators.
"We have animators, filmmakers, illustrators, storytellers, photographers, musicians, web developers, scriptwriters all contributing their amazing talents," Biasiny-Tule said.
Production is now with Rotorua's Kumara Patch, Aotearoa's first wāhine Māori-run animation studio.
Jointly funded by New Zealand On Air and Canadian Media Fund, the web series will launch on June 21 at the Toronto Film Festival.