Indigenous | Deaf

Deaf filmmaker aspires to make TV series in sign language

A turi (deaf) filmmaker hopes to create a TV series entirely in New Zealand Sign Language to showcase the language to the world.  

Jared Flitcroft (Ngāti Maniapoto) enjoys telling stories from all kinds of people and perspectives but says stories from the Māori deaf community are imperative.

"Sign language and te reo Māori are both official languages. They're both important. We've seen with te reo Māori that it's on TV. We've seen the progress there but we haven't seen that with sign language."

He says Māori deaf are not visible in the media and that their stories need to be shared with the world because there are so many amazing people.

His films highlight the difficulties of being both Māori and deaf so that "turi Māori are able to pass on the kōrero from generation to generation.

Turi filmmaker is ready to make movies that need to be seen -and heard - to be believed. 

‘They can dream’

"We experience multiple barriers and so capturing those means that we're able to strengthen and grow and show the world and New Zealand who and what we are capable of."

Flitcroft's most recent short film Tama has won awards nationally and internationally. It centres on a young turi Māori boy who confronts his dismissive, drunk-driving father through haka and gains his respect, marking his transition from childhood into adulthood.

Despite his many successes, the filmmaker says he still deals with challenges navigating the film industry and engaging with other Māori filmmakers.

"I've got lots of powerful stories that I want to tell and I'd like organisations and government departments to fund that… Being able to get that access is a huge part of it."

"Sign language interpreters are a really important part of what I do. I've always wanted to join workshops and network in meetings with other Māori directors who are listening and I feel like I can't join in because I can't get the interpreters."

Flitcroft strives to empower other Māori deaf to follow their dreams as he has and he wants them to come with him on this journey.

"I want to show Māori deaf people they can do it as well, they can dream."