National | History

NZ Wars exhibition sees fresh take on country's colonial history

An exhibition offering a fresh take on the stories of Ngā Pakanga Nunui o Aotearoa - The New Zealand Wars, as told in film, opened yesterday at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, in Wellington.

The free exhibition, named He Riri Awatea: Filming the New Zealand Wars, highlights how the New Zealand Wars have been interpreted through time and various film, television, and digital storytelling formats over the past century.

The exhibition's curator, Annabel Cooper, talked to teaomā today, and says some of the films at the exhibition include Rewi's Last Stand by Rudall Hayward, inspired by the 1864 battle of Ōrākau, and the 1983 film Utu, where a Māori warrior seeks retribution for his village that is massacred by colonial troopers.

The five-part award-winning documentary series The New Zealand Wars will be on screen as well, written and presented by James Belich.

Another format includes music, where the exhibition will also have music videos of Ria Hall's They Come Marching and thrash reo Māori band Alien Weaponry's Raupatu.

It also includes portraits of Māori involved in the making of the films, like Don Selwyn “who was hugely important in mentoring Māori performers”, Cooper says.

“I can see Ramai Hayward or Raima Te Miha as she was originally the first Māori filmmaker, and also Merata Mita.

“There are so many portraits and we could have included so many more if we had room too.”