Indigenous | Documentary

21-year journey of three Māori in the 21st century shown in new doco series

A documentary series that followed three Māori born in 2000 who were revisited every seven years as they grew up and then finally at 21 aired on Whakaata Māori last night.

Whānau 2021 was the fourth instalment of the longitudinal series and is now available on MĀORI+.

Director Kay Elmers (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tamaterā) said the idea for Whānau 2021 wasn't just a look at the pēpi but rather a broader look at whānau, hapū and iwi that nurture them over those years.

“It was a response to a couple of things. There was the notion that had been around at the beginning of the 20th century of the sort-of-smoothing of the pillar of the dying race and the assimilation of Māori. We wanted to look at what Māori were doing at the next millennium, and also to provide an antidote to some pretty negative mainstream media representations of Māori that were prevalent at that time.

Three journeys in te ao Māori shared with the rest of the world. 

What came next

“It really has taken a village to raise this baby this time round so we’re really pleased that the next instalment is available now."

Having grown up with the show, associate producer, director of the rangatahi cuts in the project and daughter Parehuia Mackay (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) says Whānau 2021 was the right project to have her work and learn from her mother in production for the first time.

“It was mahi all the time but it was good to have that time and put our love into it because all these whānau are a part of our whānau,” Mackay said.

Elmers said it has been a privilege to see the project come to life, linking her life of having her own tamariki to the very project she worked on.

“I had two children when we conceived the project, I think Parehuia was four and I just had my second child.

“I was really privileged to learn from it and see their perspectives. I hope a little bit of their wisdom rubbed off on me and my parenting. I certainly learned a lot about their approach to always putting their kids first.”