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National | Bay of Plenty

Film challenges the effects Tauranga industries have on environment

A new film, Taiao, has challenged viewers to be mindful of how industries in Tauranga have affected the environment.

Taiao is one of six sustainability-focused short films, premiering on Māori Television's website, and the Māori+ app this month. The film explores New Zealand's natural world and how the land is used by people.

Part of the film, co-directed and co-produced by Micah Winiata, follows the process of pine trees being cut down as well as kiwifruit production in the Bay of Plenty.

“I wanted to see how pine trees [are] in the forest and suddenly they're in China. So I wanted to explore that process also with kiwifruit, he says.

“So I guess the takeaway is basically a reflection of what your social conditioning is, whether you like the industry in Tauranga, whether you see it’s a waste of the whenua or many other things.”

Behind the scenes filming Taiao. Source: File

Rediscovering Māori identity

Winiata, of Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Porou, says the best part about making the film, was rediscovering a lot about Tauranga and his own identity.

“I wasn't raised being fluent in Māori at all, or connecting to my marae. So it was a big part of it was learning about that. It was connecting to the various parts of my pepeha and I think when you connect to those parts of your pepeha, it really balances your wairua. So for me, it was connecting to the marae, to the maunga, Mauao and to the awa.”

What makes the film so unique is that it cuts together like a music video, using only the soundscape of native taonga puoro, alongside electronic synths.

“One of the biggest creative perspectives I wanted to have as the director was that of a neutral stance, just observing things as they are instead of forcing audiences to feel about a particular issue, Winiata says.

“I think it came together in a really multicultural way. It kind of represents this interesting time we live inand how culture is rising up and then the industry is also taking over.”

Behind the scenes filming Taiao. Source: File

Winiata says he started making films when he was "quite young".

“My brother got us a normal laptop and it had a camera on it. So then we were making stop motion film back in the day.”

His filmmaking journey really kicked off when one of his teachers in Year 11 supported him.

“Being told that you're doing something amazing when you're that young really kind of gives you that confidence and that passion to pursue what you want to do.”

Winiata says he is working on developing his experience as a filmmaker.

“Especially, I want to connect with people who can enable me to make longer films like this. So the next project up is a longer version of this, with a unique twist but I'll save it for later.”

Someday Stories - Taiao

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