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Two Sides of Maori Youth On Film

Two Sides of Maori Youth On Film

Up and coming director Noa Campbell explores the daily reality of young urban Maori and their peers in her debut film ‘Keeping It Real’ premiering at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School on the 4th July. This insightful documentary offers a raw look into the lives of a group of Maori youth - in the home, on the street, on the Marae, at school – and the whanaungatanga they share.

“Their culture is school, it’s the biggest influence in their daily life” said Noa Campbell. “I didn’t want the documentary to be a direct comment on the education system, but these kids are being shaped by it on a daily basis.”

Sponsored by Smokefree the documentary was made as a cooperative project by a group of third year Toi Whakaari actors as part of their graduating year. Noa Campbell teamed up with Damian Seagar to film her son and a circle of his friends from college. Initial inspiration for the film was to create an opportunity to provoke and encourage these youth to represent themselves.

“The biggest challenge for me was how to serve these youth and convey their voice to the wider community, while making a funky and contemporary documentary” said Noa Campbell.

Rangimiria Ihakara (Ngati Kuri, Ngati Porou) is a powerful and persuasive speaker and will represent Wellington High School at the regional Manu Korero competitions. She is currently writing for her school magazine ‘The Flannel’ and hopes to study law next year at university.

Jai Campbell (Nga Puhi nui tonu, Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungungu ) attended a Kura Kaupapa before Wellington High School. He is fluent in Te Reo and hopes to further his interest in lighting by taking the Entertainment Technology course at Toi Whakaari after college.

John Waitati (Ngati Porou, Te Whanau Apanui, Ngai te Rangi ) came down to Wellington High to get away from a drugged out environment, and is considered by his mates to be the brainy one. He is currently trialing for the secondary school regional Maori rugby team, and, like the others, is heavily involved in Kapa Haka.

Fraser Williams (Ngati Porou, Maniapoto) has just left 6th form to attend a NZIS youth training program. Although he would like to complete bursary Maori he is uncertain of his next step. The documentary shows his deliberations.

Interspersed through out the documentary are interviews with the youth, revealing their thoughts on many topics such as sexuality, cultural identity, substance use, truancy, and academic achievement. “The thing that’s impressed me most in making this film is the openness of the tai tamariki. These kids are so much more onto it than people realise, they’re not angels all the time, but they’re caught up in a system”.

What: ‘ Keeping It Real’ produced by Unseen Productions

Time: 6.30pm drinks and nibbles for a 7.30pm showing

Date: Friday 4 July 2003

Where: Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown (old show buildings)


Noa Campbell (Ngapuhi) was the recipient of two scholarships in 2003, Hokianga Ki Taumarere and the Francis Hunt Art Scholarship. Mother of four beautiful tamariki, Noa is in her third year at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. She has recently returned from work in Whaingaroa with Te Uho Productions, and is passionate about making film and theatre in and out of Aotearoa. She hopes to make a follow up documentary on this group as they enter their twenties.

Damion Seagar is a recent graduate of the NZ Film School. He is working as a freelance operator while pursuing his interest in cinematography and photography. He met Noa Campbell during a workshop, where they developed an excellent working relationship which continues with this documentary.

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