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The Story Of Ruatepupuke - On Maori Television



The story of one of New Zealand's most magnificent meeting houses which still remains in foreign ownership is the focus of RUATEPUPUKE screening for the first time in Maori Television's New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday November 7 at 8.30 PM.

The hour-long film follows the people of a remote East Cape settlement through the emotion, laughter and drama of reuniting with their sacred wharenui in the USA - and then allowing it to remain a world away.

In April this year, a documentary crew from Media Five Limited followed the people of Tokomaru Bay and the country's oldest performing haka group, Te Hokowhitu A Tu, to Chicago to celebrate the meeting house's 125th birthday and got a front seat to the international negotiations.

RUATEPUPUKE explores how the meeting house came to be in the ownership of the Field Museum of Chicago - and the concerns, debate and fears of it remaining in the hands of another culture.

"Some said - €˜we want it back, bring it back, it's ours'. But this is 2007, not 207," says kaumatua (elder) Piripi Aspinall. "There is a kinship between us and the people over there and the young people are now accepting that the house stays in Chicago."

Chicago laid out the red carpet for the descendants with a special welcome from the city attended by international media and foreign dignitaries.

"The cynical journalist in me initially thought museum staff was at some level just going through the motions to keep the whanau happy," says director Kirsty Armstrong.

"But those people on the other side of the world - in a country that epitomises arrogance to many of us - have a genuine respect for things Maori and look towards our culture as an untapped source of knowledge and history."

Producer Maramena Roderick says this is not a tale of loss and protest, of stolen artifacts and accusations. "Instead, it is a remarkable testament to what can be achieved when two sides that are literally poles apart can reach understanding and agreement - a reminder for all New Zealand."

RUATEPUPUKE screens for the first time in Maori Television's New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday November 7 at 8.30 PM.



Year 2007
Censor General Exhibition (G)
Duration 60-minute documentary film
Language Maori and English languages


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