What a fantastic event our Maorilands Film Festival is.
Starting with the moving powhiri at Raukawa marae on day one — to the Red Carpet gala event at the end it was a stylish, well managed, fun film festival.
Libby Hakaraia and hubby Tainui Stephens first rolled out the Maorilands welcome mat last year and this time they excelled once again literally carving out a new pathway of how a indigenous event show look and feel.
I was overseas last year but heard the buzz from whanau and saw the smart art deco banners still fluttering on main street when I returned.
I’m pleased they are still up as I write because they bring a smile to my face remembering the full stretch of going to everything on my roll of tickets for that week. Such as the short indie films with serious themes, the hilarious films of the 1960’s where our relations — like uncle Inia Te Wiata — appearing buff and in fine voice.
Tania Hakaraia, together with husband Pat and daughter Mahinarangi– contributed to the slick management throughout the run-up to the start, with online ticket sales at the Civic theatre with printouts to match.
I once attended the Vancouver Film festival (for The Listener) and what impressed me then was the amount of friendly, helpful volunteers. We had that here with our handsome kura kaupapa tauira (students) decked out in smart tee shirts and smiley faces at Nga Purapura.
Poignant moments for me was hearing our shy James Rolleston answer my question about whether had had on a wig for The Deadlands film — and he giggled and said “No I always have to wear, itchy wigs. My hair doesn’t get a chance to grow much.” Later his nan spoke about the stresses her mokopono had doing the tough scenes in The Dark Horse — only to later hear him up at 5 am in the morning — whistling and humming in the kitchen preparing for another day’s filming… And she then went on to congratulate Otaki for having a fantastic, community feel… (I think she was referring to the harmonious racial mix in our town) … she said “we are definitely coming back next year whanau”.
On a personal note, my husband Michael whispered ‘Do you remember the last time we were here in The Civic theatre?’ I could not. He reminded me it was in 1969 and the film was “The Valley of the Dolls”. It was so dreadfiul we walked out!
Scary martial arts exponent Laurence Makoare was a brilliant keynote speaker choice for the first night address from Rangiatea church. He started with the sentence “ I was the youngest of a family of 15”… he has been in Hollywood blockbusters but has now turned to another talent — whakairo — carving. When film supremo — Libby Hakaraia — presented him with a beautiful taiaha — he teared up and said “You know I have done many pieces for people — lots of 21st keys — but this is the first time I have ever got something for myself. I shall put it on the wall so that every day I can look at it when I wake up.”
So thanks Libby and Tainui for putting Otaki back where we started back in the 1930s and showing the world of indigenous film from our place…