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Screen Fund grants support Maori filmmakers

Release Creative NZ

Maori women are reclaiming ta moko and a documentary providing insights into the subject is one of two projects by Maori filmmakers supported in the latest funding round of the Screen Innovation Production Fund, announced this week.

Moko Productions of Auckland, a company consisting of three Maori women who have been working in the film and television industries for more than 12 years, was offered a $16,500 grant towards the production of a short documentary, Moko Kauae.

Director Leonie Pihama (Te Atiawa/Ngati Mahanga) said the growth of Moko Kaue was “both exciting and affirming”.

“The project carries a cultural, artistic and political kaupapa,” she said. “It will show this traditional artform in its full beauty and give Maori women an opportunity to express why they have taken Moko Kauae and the responses they have had to that choice.

“The issues surrounding it are complex and with the growing number of women considering Moko Kauae, it’s important to make all the korero accessible.”

A partnership between Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission, the Screen Innovation Production Fund supports the moving-image arts by funding innovative, often low-budget productions. In its second funding round for 1999/2000, the Fund offered grants totalling $248,618 to 19 projects.

The Fund’s assessment panel – comprising Julie Warren (Chair), Lawrence McDonald, Sima Urale, Melissa Wikaire and Vanessa Alexander – was pleased to see a slight increase in applications from Maori and Pacific Islands filmmakers. As in previous funding rounds, a number of projects from Maori filmmakers were for documentaries.

“The panel is particularly keen to see more innovative drama projects from Maori filmmakers,” Ms Warren said.

The panel was pleased to offer a grant of $15,523 to Quentin Parr of Wellington towards the production of Player Hater, a short drama about friendship, love and infidelity.

“I believe that New Zealand cinema lacks real Polynesian characters in real situations,” said Parr (Ngati Raukawa), who is also of Samoan heritage.

For Parr, who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Film and Maori, this will be his first role as director. However, he has worked on a number of productions, including Saving Grace and Hopeless, a feature film released in April 2000 and now being developed into a television series.

Parr has also ensured that he has experienced support in key areas. For example, writer/actor Rawiri Paratene will help workshop the script with actors.

A 67-minute documentary, Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People, was offered a $7000 grant towards post-production costs. The film, which will be screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival running in the main centres in July, is a documentary about master weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet (Te Atiawa).

Wellington filmmaker Robin Greenberg describes the documentary as a four-year journey, which has produced a work of great depth and intimacy.

“Erenora’s story is one of passion and commitment to her art and to the Waiwhetu community,” she says. “Weaving and art become a vehicle for many messages, as a woman and as a Maori. At the heart of the story lies an illustration in action of the Tu Tangata policies and the potential for visionary change of how we see ourselves and the future of New Zealand.”

Applications to the next funding round for the Screen Innovation Production Fund close on 28 July 2000. Copies of the Funding Guide/Nga Putea and specific guidelines for the Fund are available from Creative New Zealand offices or can be downloaded from its website (


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