May 15, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views


Te Awa Tupua – Voices from the River, the new documentary from Paora Joseph, the director of the revelatoryTatarakihi: The Children of Parihaka(2012), tells the story of his own iwi and their long struggle to regain guardianship over their ancestral taonga, the Whanganui River.

awaThe director ofTatarakihi: The Children of Parihakachannels the spirit and poetry in the stories of Whanganui iwi, past and present, and the power of the river itself, in a film celebrating their deep connection.

In 1995 an iwi-lead occupation of Pakaitore a sacred block of land in central-city Whanganui widely known as Moutua Gardens lasted 80 days. The protest drew support from other iwi across New Zealand and highlighted the longstanding struggle for custodianship of the river.

Te Awa Tupuarevisits the Pakaitore occupation in considerable depth, drawing on conversations amongst those who were there. As in the earlier film, Joseph threads historical imagery into his own more recently captured footage to express a powerful sense of continuity through time.

He is marvellously abetted with footage filmed at Pakaitore by an Australian TV documentary crew, whose critical perspective on the Pakeha response provides some salutary reminders of what a bitter struggle this was. Almost 20 years later the life of the river is recognised in law, and this beautiful film bears witness to and enacts the transfer of Whanganui culture and history to future generations.

The film is described by NZIFF as: This beautiful filmhonours the power and poetry in the stories of Whanganui iwi, past and present, and their longstanding struggle to reclaim guardianship over their ancestral river.

World Premiere isSunday July 20 4.30pmat SkyCity Cinema bookings through NZInternational Film


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