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E Tu Whanau And Maoriland Film Festival

E Tu Whanau And Maoriland Film Festival

Amongst the menu of content being featured at the Maoriland Film Festival in Otaki this week are a number of spirit-raising digital vignettes commissioned by one of the festival sponsors, E Tu Whanau (

E Tu Whanau, a nationwide programme of action designed to counter domestic violence, is quietly turning into a widely supported community-based Maori movement. The movement is comprised of a number of Maori organisations and collectives across iwi and hapu from the tail of the fish to the waka stern.

The fundamental belief unifying the movement is that whanau Maori are full of potential and carry within them the skills and capability to resolve their own issues and challenges – te mana kaha o te whanau. This broad belief is founded on a set of shared values: Aroha; Whanaungatanga; Whakapapa; Mana/Manaaki; Korero Awhi; Tikanga.

Some of the digital video vignettes feature monologues from kahukura, people who show community leadership; talking about their understanding of the nature of these values. Although E Tu Whanau is Maori designed and Maori led it is not exclusive. This is well illustrated by high profile New Zealanders such as Sir Peter Leitch, Hon Chris Tremain, and Tigilau Ness contributing their insights.

The digital video vignettes are produced by AWA Transmedia Studios (Aroha Whanau Awhinatanga – The interviews have been conducted by rising NZ rap artist,Tipene Harmer (, and well-known Maori broadcaster Dale Husband. They are very relaxed but piquant conversations.

One especially beautiful and somewhat longer digital video vignette features Sheridan Waitai (Ngati Kuri, Te Rawara, Ngai Takoto and Tainui). Interviewed by Dale Husband, Sheridan draws on the stories of her youth in Te Hiku o te Ika and tells her grandmother’s account of the kuaka, the bar-tailed godwit. It is a timely story because this is the season that the kuaka gather in the Parengarenga Harbour for their annual migration to their nesting sites in the far reaches of the northern hemisphere.

In this story Sheridan beautifully recounts how the kuaka has left part of his heart in the sands of the Parengarenga Harbour and another with his whanau in the northern reaches of the world.

In the story Tane compensates for the kuaka’s heart with a stone that rises in his gullet to call him home to Aotearoa each spring. The moral of course is that kuaka’s demonstration that he still has a heart and can love is in his caring actions and looking after the young of the whanau.

This is one of the reasons that E Tu Whanau collectives have taken the kuaka as an iconic symbol of whanau behaviour. As part of Project Kuaka, E Tu Whanau members have recorded tribal leaders sharing various perspectives on the kuaka ( ). Project Kuaka looks to develop an annual festival to celebrate community leaders (kahukura) when the kuaka arrive back in Aotearoa in spring.

There is very much a northern feel to the video vignettes. Partly this is because Ngapuhi are the nation’s most populous iwi but also because the E Tu Whanau networks have been active at the Nga Puhi Festival and at Waitangi.

Finally there is one very youth focused digital video vignette featuring Tihei Harawira, Hone’s son, in a lyrical free style rap, rangatahi speaking to rangatahi.


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