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MĀORI 271 & 370 Māori in Film
• http: //www. flicks. co. nz/blog/lists/top-10 highest-grossing-new-zealand-moviesever/
Māori (and Indigenous) Film Festivals
Why would a Research Institute organise a film festival? “We're involved because film, especially good film, and especially film written, made, and directed by indigenous peoples, is perhaps the most expressive medium we have for communicating messages about who we were; who we are; and who we are striving to become. … Film lets us “talk story. ” It lets us convey to others our unique perspective of the universe and all the creatures, places, and things within. Film lets the viewer see with our eyes how we are connected to each other, and to past and future generations in more compelling ways than mere words permit. ”
What is a “Māori film”?
In order to qualify for He Ara funding (from the Film Commission): “Applications must be on behalf of either a team or a company … in which at least twothirds of the people concerned are Māori and/or Pasifika filmmakers, working in the roles of writer, director and/or producer”
• http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=-2 IW 9 Cr 0 l. Ws trailer • http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=ft. Ej. Hdit 4 Y&feature=related Paikea’s speech – probably the most wellknown sequence http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=HW 4 TKaw. Kfi. Q two scenes which someone has chosen to put on youtube as examples of Keisha Castle. Hughes’ acting – but they are also relevant to critiques of the film
Who made Whale Rider • http: //whaleriderthemovie. co. nz/credits. ht ml
Scriptwriter, Director, Producers
NZ on Screen describes Whale Rider as … “ Coupling a specific sense of place and culture with a universal coming-of-age story”.
The need for a “universal” theme • Making film is a risky financial investment therefore need for as wide an audience as possible • NZ a small market • Minority cultures not immediately something global audiences can relate to • SO a universal theme needed
Producer John Barnett "I always believed that Whale Rider's themes are relevant to societies and cultures throughout the world”.
Whale Rider as a success story • • International awards Box office International recognition for Niki Caro “a lyrical alternative vision to the Once Were Warriors-dominated perception (gritty, violent, urban) of Māori culture”. • http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=VC 7 Xc Usznf 8
“cultural verisimilitude” • shot on location at Whangara with a mixture of actors and non-actors. • local community participated in scenes of community involvement. • Te reo used in ritual exchanges. • Hone Tuamatu employed as cultural adviser. • final cut of the film shown to iwi elders to secure approval before the film was released.
The “cultural authenticity” of the text • First step: concept of “cultural authenticity” is problematic – why?
Some dangers with claims to cultural authenticity • they can merge into an essentialised position in which some practices get iconised as authentically indigenous, and others are excluded as hybridised or contaminated in some way. certain fixed, stereotypical representations of culture may emerge, which mask and override the real differences that exist within such cultures, such as iwi differences. They ignore the possibility that cultures may develop and change as their conditions change.
• Pihama: “I am using “more authentic” rather than “authentic” because of the difficulties associated with the idea that there can be one true authentic representation”.
“The Patriarchy/Feminism divide” (Tania Ka’ai) • Whale Rider’s website: "Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny. "
• Many Māori scholars, both male and female, have argued that gender relations in pre-contact times were not hierarchical. The first settlers, however, brought with them Victorian notions of the proper roles of males and females, and of ways of being male and female
• Brendan Hokowhitu (Ngati Pukenga) who specialises in research into Māori masculinity, has written: “many representations of Maori masculinity, now regarded as traditional Maori culture, were merely qualities of colonial masculinity" (2003).
• Koro Paka constructed in WR as a representative of the failure of Maori men to evolve with modern times. • His inability to move from fixed "traditional" ideals of male leadership is given as the reason for his whanau's, and by implication Maoridom's, imminent demise. • Tracy Johnson, in an article called “Deconstructing the Pakeha Gaze”, argues that what is not brought into focus in Whale Rider is the impact of the colonial process of assimilation whereby western notions of gender relations were instilled in the Maori population.
“The grand narrative of New Zealand society that depicts traditional Maori society as patriarchal has inscribed upon Maori culture a falseness that is more about western notions of gender inequality than a concern for cultural authenticity. In this light Whale Rider can be identified as a text that articulates western feminist concerns of gender inequality, rather than the more matriarchal concerns that are articulated by Maori women about our social, economic and political subordination”. (Johnson, 2004)
The story told in the original novel. • More emphasis on the relationship between the tribal ancestor Paikea, considered half-human/half-fish, and the whale on which he rode. • Extensive sections of narration from the whale’s point of view, and the whale pines and languishes when Paikea leaves him to live on land start a human lineage. • Contemporary sequences, where the tone is more explicitly critical of the relationship between the majority Pākehā culture and the now-marginalised tribal culture. • Ihimaera also integrates a much wider cultural history of the East Coast tribes.
So. . . • One effect of Caro’s non-Māori experience being incorporated into the project is to soften, even obliterate, references to the relation between the dominant culture and the community of Whangara. • Her choice of a female hero fighting patriarchy also renders the film more appealing to a broad and international range of audiences.
• Johnson quotes Chandra Mohantry: Western feminists do not allow for the different complexities of the lives of women in non. Western societies. Rather, they apply an “arrogant Western universalism” as they judge economic, religious and familial structures by Western standards.
Tānia Ka’ai (Ngati Porou) “People are considered the most important objects of the Māori world and the survival and continued procreation of the whānau rests on the protection of women and their whare tangata (literally “house of people”, or womb). Exposing women to tapu areas puts them, and future generations, at risk. Kanga (curses) were used when whānau, hapū or iwi allowed their women to tread in these sacred areas. …
One such area is the marae ātea (the courtyard in front of the main house on the marae. The marae ātea is recognised as being the domain of Tūatauenga, the God of warfare and people. …
• The female role in this context is that of performing the karanga, which has usually been given to a kuia, or elderly woman, because she has usually finished her childbearing days. The role was not given to young women for fear that the kanga would be placed on their whare tangata, leaving them barren and thus extinguishing a genealogical line in the whānau’.
SO, Ka‘ai argues … • this traditional practice is distorted in the film, as Paikea is invited by her grandmother to perform the karanga. This is simply inconceivable in Māori society, especially for a young girl who has not yet reached puberty. • Paikea behaved like someone with no knowledge of Māori culture when she sat on the front pew with the men. A child raised by her grandparents would simply not behave that way.
• This is an example of a Eurocentric feminist belief that women can challenge a supposed male practice that appears to discriminate against women and relegate them to lesser positions in Māori society. • The disregard for the cultural significance of the marae and the protection of women is masked by this Eurocentric feminist challenge, thus portraying Māori as a ‘barbaric’ people who have no respect for women.
“Maori feminism is not anti-Maori; far from it. It is clearly pro-Maori. Maori feminism is an integral part of Maori development. • Dr Kathie Irwin It seeks to re-establish the mana wahine of our women, to allow us to stand tall beside our men in our whanau again. Not in front of them, the movement is not anti-men, nor behind them, we are not apologetic for our strength or our vision, but beside them where our culture tells us to be”. (Kathie Irwin 1993: 299)
Iwi Specificities • Not only is the main plotline of Whangara one young woman’s fight against patriarchy misleading in general, but it is particularly so in the case of Ngāti Porou, the main iwi on the East Coast, where women are traditionally known to assume leadership roles in the iwi. • the film contradicts the histories and traditions of the iwi it is based upon.
• The haka Ka Mate was chosen over two famous Ngāti Porou compositions. • Ka‘ai: Ka Mate was likely to have been chosen because of the international reputation it has gained through its use by the All Blacks. This means that a global audiences can identify with a New Zealand identity. • “The acquisition of Ka Mate by mainstream New Zealand society has become an identity marker by Pākehā for the global market, in the absence of their own, unique culture” (p. 11 -12).
Colonial amnesia The film is ahistorical and does not address the consequences of the colonising process and the implications of these omissions. Ahistorical: without concern for history or historical development
“In discussing Maori portrayals and representations it is necessary to maintain a sense of context. The historical, cultural, social, economic, political contexts all play a role in the ways in which re-presentations of Maori may be viewed and read. Images are not separable from the context within which they are positioned nor are the separable from the relationships that exist within the societal context around them. ” (Pihama 1997: 60 -61)
• The absence of a historic context is problematic in that the dysfunction of the whanau, the crisis of 'leadership' and the dominance of patriarchy are not situated within, and as a result of, the colonial process. • Māori academic Mason Durie : "The long-term effects of assimilative policies and practices have been far reaching within the Maori community. One of the consequences has been the fracturing of the whanau unit" (1997: 30. ) • Johnson: this is not to say that there is not dysfunction in Maori families. The point is, that the disease of the whanau unit is a result of the break-down of cultural values that under pin whanau well-being.
But. . . • Because Whale Rider does not identify the process of colonisation and its policies of assimilation as a causal factor in this whanau fragmentation and dysfunction, the apportioning of blame is left upon the victims of the colonial process • The disease within this family, and within the community, is therefore attributed to the dominance of traditional Maori patriarchy, manifested in the over-bearing Koro Paka, and his inability to accept modern times.
Talking Out • Johnson refers to Barclay’s model to make the point that WR talks out. • She sees this as a negative strategy, one that is tied to promoting tourism to New Zealand, and so commodifying Māori culture for the purpose of promoting New Zealand as a non-threatening travel destination in the South Pacific.
Brendan Hokowhitu “While I acknowledge that a collaborative process did take place [in the making of Whale Rider], I would suggest that Whale Rider is hardly bicultural. Biculturalism demands equal decisionmaking capability at all levels of production and direction. The biculturalism espoused above [and here he is referring to the processes of consultation that took place] is typical of the manner that many Pākehā conceive of this notion. That is, as an extension of generosity to the trembling hands of the native, who is eager for any morsel of recognition. . . .
I wonder if there is such a thing as a ‘bicultural bank balance’? That is, who benefits from the reproduction of the Whangara community culture? What did the Whangara community receive for the representation of their culture and place? I would suggest that, similar to the pilfering of African American blues music by white ‘rock-nroll’ musicians, the Whangara community has received very little for the commodification of their cultural icons: “Elvis made a bundle, while we remained poor””.
Some questions • As far we know, the kuia and kaumaatua at Whangara were pleased with the film. Where does this these critiques? • Witi Ihimaera seems to have endorsed it – at the least, he hasn’t spoken out about any aspect of it. Where does this put the critiques?
• Many Māori have loved it, saying that at last there is a positive image of Māori on film. • Many Pākeha have loved it, and see this as a “New Zealand film”. What is going on here?
References • • Figueroa, Esther (2004). Whale Rider. The Contemporary Pacific. Vol 16 (2). Hokowhitu, B. (2004). 'Tackling Māori masculinity: A colonial genealogy of savagery and sport'. The Contemporary Pacific, 16(2), 259 -284 Hokowhitu, B. (2003). 'Māori masculinity, post-structuralism, and the emerging Self'. New Zealand Sociology, 18(2) • Johnson, Tracy (2004). ‘Deconstructing the Pakeha Gaze: Whale Rider’. Aotearoa Independent Media Centre. indymedia. org. nz/newswire/display/15571/index. php
• Ka‘ai, Tānia (2005). Te Kauae Mārō o Muri-rangawhenua (The Jawbone of Muri-ranga-whenua): Globalising local Indigenous culture – Māori leadership, gender and cultural knowledge transmission as represented in the film Whale Rider. In Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies Vol 2 (2). • Pihama, Leonie (1997). Ko Taranaki te Maunga: Challenging Post-Colonial Disturbances and Post. Modern Fragmentation. Te Putahi-a-Toi Vol 2 (2).