Hard News by Russell Brown


Maori movie magic – but what's up with TV?

Media Take editorial meetings tend to be discursive affairs, occasionally to a fault. And so last week, we were talking about Taika Waititi's success, with Hunt for the Wilderpeople being licensed for all territories and displacing Taika's Boy as the highest-grossing film at the New Zealand box office.

Both are films by a Maori director, with a Maori sensibility. Tipare Iti remarked on the way that these "non-explaining" Maori films are so readily accepted overseas. And at home too: six of the top 10 earning New Zealand films are Maori films.

So if these movies are mainstream smashes, what's the problem with TV? Why do programmers regard Maoriness as something to be avoided?

With a new NZ On Air survey showing that women and non-Pakeha are under-represented in screen production (although the picture isn't uniform – Pasifika are doing notably well in directing roles, for example, and Asian New Zealanders are almost absent everywhere) we broadened the topic to screen diversity in general and invited some guests.

The week's show featured New Zealand Film Commission boss Dave Gibson, director of the forthcoming 'Poi E' film Tearepa Kahi, producer and director Libby Hakaraia, writer and actor Victor Rodger (who talked about similar issues as part of the Auckland Writers Festival recently) and Maori stage innovator Regan Taylor. It was lively and good.

You can watch the broadcast episode here on demand.

And there's also a 15-minute online-only korero with all the panelists together.

Sadly, no video exists of the subsequent discussion at the pub afterwards, but that got pretty lively too :-)

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