Totara log from the Ōtaki River to be carved for Māoriland Film Festival

  • Published Date 11 Mar 2020

Māoriland Film Festival will run from March 18-22 in Ōtaki, and this year the annual indigenous storytelling event will feature special carvings from a tōtara log pulled from the Ōtaki River.

One of the founders of Māoriland, Pat Hakaraia, says the festival was created to celebrate indigenous voices in film and to share the perspectives and stories of indigenous peoples.

"Each year we do something special for the community -  we have invited Te Matatoki, a group of about 15 carvers, who will use one of the six cuttings from the tōtara log to create something for the festival."

Greater Wellington Regional Council Flood Protection Field Supervisor for Kāpiti, Graham Winterburn, who offered the log to Pat for carving, had also provided a log last year which was carved and now sits in the Māoriland Hub.

"Pat asked us to keep an eye out for any logs that might be suitable for carving. Our tractor driver Lance spotted the log and found it was too big to move. So one of our contractors volunteered in with his bulldozer to drag it out to the road edge - it was a big team effort," Graham says.

Pat says the log was about 200 years old and had two branches which were each about 21 metres long.

"This is the biggest log we have ever seen come out of the Ōtaki River - for me to be able to take this and use it in Māoriland is something really special. It's an exceptionally good piece of wood, and it means a lot because the river is who we are," Pat says.

The film festival itself is now in its seventh year and is the largest indigenous film festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

"Attendance has grown from 3000 people in 2016 to 12,500 in 2019. Over five days filmgoers will have a choice of around 120 films, both short films and features, which have been submitted from all around the world," Pat says.

Rangatahi from across New Zealand play a key role within Māoriland. A film leadership and collaborative initiative called Through Our Lens offers opportunities for young filmmakers to grow and share their skills and create films with their peers both nationally and internationally in other indigenous nations.

"Our team now gets invited to nations all over the world to talk about filmmaking. We take rangatahi on these trips and so far this year have had one group travel to Taiwan and another to Finland," Pat says.

The films made on these trips will screen in the 'Through Our Lens' programme at this year's festival.

Find out more about the upcoming Māoriland Film Festival.

Updated February 24, 2022 at 1:35 PM

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