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New Initiative Focuses On The Future Of Māori, Asian And Pasifika Films In NZ

Twelve emerging screen producers of Māori, Pasifika and Pan-Asian heritage have been selected as the first cohort of a new screen development programme created to address the need for more culturally diverse producers in the NZ screen industry.

Ngā Aho Whakaari (Māori in Screen Production), PASC (Pan Asian Screen Collective) and key members of the Pasifika screen community collaborated to form MAP (Māori Asian Pasifika) Screen Development and created the MAP Screen Development: Producer Training course. The programme is funded by the NZ Film Commission and NZ On Air and is led by Sue Maslin and David Court from Australia’s prestigious Compton School.

Ngā Aho Whakaari’s Executive Director Hineani Melbourne (Tūhoe, Tainui) said:
“Ngā Aho Whakaari is dedicated to building capacity across the sector of film and television and is confident these candidates bring a depth knowledge in their respective skill sets, fresh perspectives and we believe great working relationships. It is our goal that this will ultimately result in great films and a strong screen industry.”

51 applications were received from Aotearoa and internationally. The 12 successful applicants are:

MĀORI

Angela Cudd
Jaimee Poipoi
Nathaniel Howe
Nicole Horan

PASIFIKA

Abba-Rose Dinah Vaiaoga-Ioasa
Halifonua (Nua) Finau
Vea Mafile'o
Maria Tanner

PAN-ASIAN

Hweiling Ow
Kim Webby
Michelle Ang
Pachali Brewster

The training course was planned pre-COVID 19 but the lockdown has meant the programme will now move online. In a series of workshops running from May until November, the producers will learn everything they need to know about creating a sustainable production business, developing a slate of projects, understanding their personal and professional potential, generating income and increasing their skills and knowledge about all aspects of the screen industry.

The course is culturally significant as the first of its kind in Aotearoa NZ, and shows the willingness of funders to unite and support the next wave of visual storytellers. Hineani Melbourne continues, “Programmes exist for writers and directors but producers are the ones who curate which stories get told. We have long needed more diverse producers in our industry enabling us to tell our own stories. While our main focus wasn’t on selecting female producers, we were pleased to select a high number of qualified women for this programme. Receiving resources for this course is a way for our funders and the industry to show that they believe in our communities and are investing in our future.”

Tongan creative Vea Mafile'o was in the USA, screening her first feature documentary film For My Father’s Kingdom when COVID-19 changed the world. She returned from San Francisco to the safety of NZ and applied for the training course as a way to increase her producing skills and knowledge. "I am super excited to do this course and feel so honoured to have been selected," she said. "I look forward to getting started and was happy to learn that I am one of two Tongan producers to be part of this first cohort. Both Nua (Halaifonua Finau) and I are proud to make work that shows our Tongan people on the big and small

Maria Tanner is the sole Cook Islands representative selected among the first cohort. “I am a Cook Islands woman and this punctuates everything I do, my practise included. Applying for this felt like the next natural step in my career. As an emerging Pasifika producer I've spent most of my time in the film space however I think it's equally important to not disregard the viable pathways that digital and television offer and I plan to use this time to explore and expand upon that. I am immensely humbled to be selected from what I knew would be a very competitive selection.”

The course culminates in an intensive two-day workshop in November focusing on marketing and pitching to funders, commissioners and platforms. There are high hopes that these producers will be empowered to tell stories enriched by their cultural experiences that will resonate with NZ and global audiences now and far into the future.

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