Hori 3.0: Ripped off…again?

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Morena! Morena!

Now, sure I just posted a few minutes ago but this caught my attention and actually got me thinking.Thinking

Are Maori once again being ripped off?

We are currently running a story called Tiki Mania Maori (high fashion) Made in Denmark? Art or Appropriation? and come to the conclusion that while the design is beautiful and the korero is ‘graceful’, there is still a lack of understanding around our culture, so in effect is another example of an artist taking from Maori and missing the essence of who we are.

Well, let’s head over to the cinema and pay some attention to the latest blockbuster AVATAR. A comment from Director James Cameron caught my attention:

Cameron, then, is the ultimate control freak. He hired a linguistics expert, Professor Paul Frommer, to devise a whole language for the Na’vi based on Maori (Cameron became intrigued by the language after spending time in New Zealand).

He did what?

AvatarInterestingly, a few whanau who have seen the movie say that not only does it mirror the experiences of indigenous people during the brutal times of European colonial expansion, it eerily looks and feels like a Maori story, hongi and all.

So then, has anyone seen AVATAR? What do you think? Could it have been inspired by Maori and our colonial experiences of war, struggle and redemption?

Sure, I know when something is really successful, everyone wants to claim a stake and take a cut but if the man himself said it, how much was the story inspired by ours?

Curious. Anyway, check out the full article here and make up your own mind.

Korero more soon.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Avatar shows natives in 'stereotype'

    Hollywood blockbuster Avatar repeats "negative stereotypes" about indigenous people, a Maori academic says.

    The science-fiction film, which has grossed $661 million worldwide, shows the impact of colonist mining crews from Earth on the indigenous people of the jungle planet Pandora.

    The head of the School of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, Rawiri Taonui, said Avatar addressed the impact of colonisation on indigenous people in an entertaining way, but relied on stereotypes.

    "It was a great movie and had some progressive themes, but did it in a way that still repeated some stereotypes," he said.

    Taonui said the "rhythmic body swaying" of the indigenous people during a ceremony only appeared in "B-grade movies" and "just doesn't happen in any indigenous population".

    He said the male members of the blue-skinned Na'avi population were stereotypical depictions of indigenous people.

    "The indigenous men were not very good when it came to sorting out the problems. They just grunted. That contradicts history," he said.

    "Indigenous people were overwhelmed by colonists, but they resisted against overwhelming odds.

    "They all came up with strategies to try and overcome their situations."

    He pointed to indigenous leaders like Sitting Bull in the United States and Rewi Manga Maniapoto in New Zealand.

    "The white guys and the neo-liberals save the people rather than the indigenous people saving themselves."

    He also thought it was surprising the lead human took only a few months to learn the ways of the Na'avi.

    "It took him three months to learn all there was to learn about his society. There is an assumption that indigenous beliefs are simplistic and it doesn't take long to master them."

    However, he said the film acknowledged the negative impact of colonisation on indigenous culture.

    "The fact that a movie like that has come out shows the Western world has less hang-ups about indigenous people. There is recognition that colonisation has a negative impact on indigenous people from a historical point of view," he said.

    The audience at his screening broke into spontaneous applause at the end of the film.

    "It made people think without pointing the finger too much. I think that is why people clapped, because it got across really strong messages without moral lecturing."

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/3201393/Ava

  2. Ae – I have to say that the coincidence between the story line, native people defending their lands against empirial forces and the destruction of their way of life, greetings with hongi and a language based on our own reo Maori – has got me thinking as well. Lets continue with the similarities, even his family name is one well known by Iwi during the British Empire's illegal war against Iwi of the 19th century. The well known British General, Cameron led the campaigns to oppress Iwi in the Waikato, Tauranga and Bay of Plenty regions! Maybe he's trying to make amends for the actions of one of his ancestors? As a nice compromise I'd recommend that he makes a movie based on the Battle of Orakau, the 300 Iwi defenders against 10,000 troops – the Maori version of Thermapolae against Persia!!!

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