Parihaka film off to France (+video)

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TATARAKIHI THE CHILDREN OF PARIHAKA tells the journey undertaken by children who are the survivors of Parihaka. The children retrace the steps of their Parihaka ancestors who in the late 1800s were forcibly removed from their peaceful village in Taranaki and incarcerated for indefinite periods without trial over a thirty-year period in South Island prisons. The childrens bus journey through New Zealand weaves a delicate tapestry of narration, poetry, song and archival image to tell a haunting story that spans five generations.

“Just as night is the bringer of day, so to is death and struggle the bringer of life

(Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi)

(Stuff.co.nz – LYN HUMPHREYS) A feature film on Parihaka will screen at a prestigious film festival in St Tropez, France.

The film Tatarakihi: the Children of Parihaka has been invited to screen next month at Rencontres Internationales Due Cinema Des Antipodes, the film’s delighted producer and director Paora Joseph said.

The cultural and spiritual message appeared to have hit a nerve with the French, Joseph said.

The French appear to have a genuine interest and enthusiasm for films that portray a sense of Maori culture and spirituality.”

Joseph will be accompanied to France by Parihaka kuia Maata Wharehoka and a small number of the children who appeared in the film. The film had also received an invitation to screen in the Balinale film Festival in Bali.

These will be the first international screenings for the film and it will be the first time an international audience will have collectively witnessed one of New Zealand’s most poignant parts of history in terms of passive resistance to colonisation.”

The film first screened at the 2012 New Zealand International Film Festival.

It is about a group of Taranaki children [the Tatarakihi or cicadas] who in 2009 were taken on a bus trip to visit the places their ancestors, passive resistance followers from Parihaka in the 1880s, were imprisoned and forced to work. Some of that work was in building Addington jail in Christchurch and several buildings and roads in Dunedin.

Along the way, the children were welcomed at local marae by descendants of local Maori who supported the prisoners at the time.

The narration is by the children, from their writing, poetry, song and art, expressed in a workshop after the journey. Since its launch, it has screened in more than 35 cinemas, marae and community centres.

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Its popularity at Wellington’s Penthouse Cinema saw it run for five weeks, Joseph said.

The Parihaka community are now working on a distribution plan in order for the film to be seen throughout all New Zealand schools.

The award-winning film-maker Joseph, a clinical psychologist who formerly lived in Taranaki where he worked for Waves, now lives on Auckland’s Waiheke Island.

His plan is now to make a feature film focusing on suicide with the support of a Taranaki trust, Te Hurihanga.

“This is not only a New Zealand issue but an international one.

“Most of our youth in particular do not have an understanding of death and in many cases have not been given the opportunities in society to contribute to life.

“It is an important kaupapa to tackle.”

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  2. Dear Editor

    Fifteen years ago I came to one conclusion. New Zealand, the country of my birth and of which I had once been so proud, was by and large a brainwashed society. There was no place for free-thinking individuals, little tolerance of dissenting views, and certainly nothing conducive to initiative, creativity or genuine social progress. It was a claustrofobic environment which I had to get out of. In the winter of 1999 I left it behind, and I have never looked back.

    There is an old Chinese proverb: ‘It is better to walk 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 scrolls.’ Probably I have covered more than 10,000 miles, though not on foot, as my travels have spanned the globe, taking in Europe and North Africa, South America, the Middle East, India and China itself. Though I have also done an extensive amount of reading, as my odyssey has developed into something of a quest for the truth.

    That is not to say I have found it. The more I learn, the less I know. Or as Socrates put it: ‘I only know that I know nothing.’ But I could not have learnt a fraction as much had I spent the past fourteen years studying at university. And, while on one hand I am learning about the world – its politics, its history, its culture, its languages – I am simultaneously learning to understand my own society with a much clearer perspective.

    Returning to my original motive; the need to get away from – and understand – the stifling conformity of a brainwashed society; the picture now looks to me like this:

    To control the conquered masses the most effective weapon the colonizer had at his disposal was religion. The Romans imposed it on Byzantium, the Spanish on the Americas and the British throughout their empire. In the three examples cited the religion was Christianity. This religion appears to have been created, in fact, for the very purpose of controlling the territories the Roman Empire inherited from Greeks Byzantium.

    It is a simple plagiary of the Judaic religion (rejected by Jews themselves); the Old Testament being all but a carbon copy of the Torah, with the addition of a solar deity – a similarly unoriginal concept. The Torah, in fact, is comprised largely of myths, legends and pagan beliefs from around the ancient world. Heaven, Hell, Angels, Satan, the Great Flood, Moses, and so on, are all taken directly from ancient Iraq – which is where the Jewish tribes are to be found in the early stages of both the Torah and the Old Testament.

    The Romans simply added to this the story of Jesus, a Messiah whose life represents the cycle of the sun: born at the end of the Winter Solstice, grows up into the sky, bringing warmth and light, multiplying the crops and healing the sick, before descending from his zenith, with his crown of thorns – or sun’s rays – in the middle of his life. He is, in fact, the last in a long line of solar deities which served the religions of ancient civilizations from India to Egypt.

    Yet no mention of him is to be found in the ancient writings which chronicle the first few centuries of the region after his birth. For this we have to wait until after Constantine had established the Roman Empire’s eastern capital in the heart of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul, Turkey) early in the fourth century AD. Hailed as the first emperor to convert to Christianity, it seems far more likely Constantine actually oversaw the religion’s “creation.”

    This was the first big lie Christian conquerors have told to their subjects. Its efficacy is waning in an increasingly educated and enlightened world, as one inevitably finds it more difficult to reconcile ancient religious beliefs with modern scientific discovery.

    Which brings me to the second principle weapon of the colonizer – education itself. As you may already have gathered, I place great value on education, and it has indeed created much enlightenment in many fields, such as science. However, that provided through institutions has naturally been customized to suit the designs of the powers that be. This is the second big lie the conqueror tells to his subjects.

    The subject of history, in particular, bears little resemblance to the truth. To quote Winston Churchill, it is “written by the victors.” And the victors would inevitably recount their own heroism and righteousness. Churchill himself was a racist who hated Indians, ignored famine in Bangladesh, used chemical weapons against Arabs and Kurds, and helped undermine Iran’s first democratic government in 1953 – so that Britain could continue to exploit her oil reserves.

    Indeed, Britain has never been the good guy. Quite the opposite. It’s history of colonization, genocide, slave-trading, mass murder, torture and rape is well documented, as has been its quashing of native cultures. But the role of “our savior in two World Wars,” in which it has so tirelessly worked to cast itself, is a complete fallacy.

    The First World War was the long-predicted (and feared) culmination of the Great Game, that is, the scramble for colonies, in which Britain was a main player. It was a terrible chapter in human history, brought about entirely by European greed, and this to their eternal shame; certainly not anybody’s “glory.” The Second World War was borne largely out of German grievances over the treaty conditions of the first.

    Undoubtedly the Nazis were the chief aggressors in World War II, though they were stopped in their tracks not by “Churchill’s teeth,” but primarily by the Russians. This fact received scant recognition from the West during the Cold War decades, as Britain and America both claimed the credit exclusively for themselves. The Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the equally horrific fire bombing of Dresden, were entirely unnecessary; the former carried out to head off the Soviets, who were preparing for a land invasion of Japan, the latter a senseless act of revenge.

    The Holocaust was not widely known until after the war, but played perfectly into the hands of the collective victors, who would spend the next few decades parading self-righteously – whilst at the same time continuing their mass-murdering antics all around the world – as if the Great Game had never actually ended.

    This included, of course, opening up Palestine for Zionist colonization – the recreation of Israel – by mostly European migrants claiming Jewish faith or ancestry. Those who opposed the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the area by the customary tactics of terrorism, mass murder, rape and torture, were blackmailed into silence with terms such as “anti-Semitism” – highly convenient in the wake of the Holocaust, itself sacrosanct (questioning the “facts” remains an imprisonable offense in some countries today).

    The native peoples have naturally attempted to resist the occupation in any manner possible, and are now widely portrayed as the ‘terrorists’ by Israel’s backers, another convenient demonisation tactic used by the oppressor. Al Qaeda is as real as Father Christmas.

    Indeed, the chief culprits of the colonial era are still bombing and occupying nations across the globe, notably in the Middle East, in order to control their resources and protect the Israelis from any potential threat. In Iraq alone civilian carnage resulting from the illegal invasion in 2003 surely numbers in the hundreds of thousands, with millions more lives ruined.

    But don’t let that stop the British and Americans parading as the good guys at every opportunity and preaching morality to the rest of us. They (not the Russians) were our saviors in two World Wars, remember. You learnt it at school.

    You also learnt it from television and film. And thus, the mass media and movie entertainment industry, have become the third vital weapon of the colonizer; and the means by which to compound the lies you have already been fed by the education system. For an entire generation New Zealanders watched only one or two channels, these owned and operated by the government.

    Like the education system, they promoted British culture and values, while ignoring outright the culture and values of the Maori. The vast number of American and British programs shown ensured those countries were portrayed in a good light, and that religious, political, national and ethnic stereotypes became ingrained in the minds of New Zealanders – who on average watched over twenty hours of television per week.

    Initially media and entertainment also served to enforce the inferior status of women with its images of good housewives and sexy models. Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, it became fashionable to condemn men on day-time television. Of course, generating hatred had nothing to do with feminism.

    This was designed to improve ratings among the predominantly female day-time TV viewing audience as private enterprise and satellite television entered the arena, and also to convey a’squeaky clean’ image of ‘liberty’ and ‘honesty’ in nations where racism and other social problems were rife and largely ignored (addressing them would not have improved ratings).

    Hatred and double standards are never a good thing, though I lived among a generation of New Zealanders who had come to believe they were; those who even relished this; and those who were simply afraid to question it. This is not so much a case of two wrongs never making a right, but of a thousand wrongs never making a right.

    But these are the steps by which governments have controlled the thinking of their people; the waning force of religion, falseness within the education system (the natural tendancy of native peoples to reject Eurocentric education will inevitably consign them to lower class status), and finally the overwhelming influence of the mass media and entertainment industry.

    I am far from the first to suggest this, of course, but only by removing myself entirely from its effects for a reasonable length of time have I become able to truly see it for what it is, and to perceive so much more clearly how damaging it has been to our society – and others.

    And so it continues. Some things may have improved, more honesty is being shown in certain areas (now that it is safe to do so), and moral outrages of the past are belatedly coming to light. But it all seems quite superficial. For moral outrages continue into the present, in different ways and by different means, but moral outrages all the same.

    In a generation’s time, when the powers that be deem it safe to permit us, we may begin addressing today’s issues as well. But it will, of course, be a case of much too little, much too late, and the damage will have been done.

    Quentin Poulsen

    Former New Zealand journalist teaching in Spain, currently on extended vacation in Turkey

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