For 18 years, she has devoted herself to film and television production with a focus on aboriginal documentary and drama. Now she is exploring connections between her culture and ours for an upcoming film. Leah Tebbutt talks to Laha Mebow while at Whakarewarewa Primary School.

Māori culture is the most successful indigenous culture in the world. That is the view of Taiwanese film director Laha Mebow after her week-long visit to the country.

The award-winning and first female Taiwanese aboriginal film director visited Rotorua last week for the first stage of a feature film based on Māori and Taiwanese cultural connections.

While in Rotorua, Mebow spent time with Māori experts and interacting with Māori families to understand cultural practices to aid the development of the play.

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Feature film based on Taiwanese and Maori cultural links is being created by Taiwan director Laha Mebow. Photo / Stephen Parker
Feature film based on Taiwanese and Maori cultural links is being created by Taiwan director Laha Mebow. Photo / Stephen Parker

Mebow, speaking through a translator, said, "Before I came here I knew nothing about Māori apart from the similarity between Māori moko and tattoo in indigenous peoples in Taiwan.

"In the old time, man and woman both had tattoos but they were banned by Japan when they colonised Taiwan. There is only one woman left who is 100 years old now."

Since spending time here Mebow said she was most impressed with the strength and energy of Māori wahine.

"The connection between Māori and Taiwan indigenous people is somehow unexplainable but I just feel the connections between the people.

"Indigenous people in Taiwan from far back in the Japanese government era have lost it [culture] for a long time. Now gradually, they want to take it back and they think that Māori is very successful."

When introducing her culture to the world she has always felt sad because she realises it is slowly dying.

"But on the contrary, when I come here, the Māori culture is very vivid and very alive.

"You should be proud of that."