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Canadian first nations people, Māori partnering on indigenous filmmaking

Canadian First Nations and Māori teamed up at the Women in Film and Television (WIFT NZ) summit.

Canadian first nations people and Māori are planning collaborations on indigenous films at the Women in Film and Television (WIFT NZ) summit.

The three-day summit has brought together 30 Canadian film professionals and 60 New Zealand filmmakers to discuss future partnerships.

Māori film maker Julian Arahanga (Ngāti Raukawa,Te Ati Haunui ā Pāpārangi) said it was exciting to collaborate and discuss some of the challenges each nation faced.

“This is just the start of a collaboration with some of our iwi from Kānata (Canada) but it is an exciting time. There are some amongst us who have already made some connections and that are a bit further along before us at Awa Films. This is the first step into co-production with Canada.”

He said Māori and the first nations people connected over their shared experiences and stories.

“I’ve been working on a project on the lost children of Aotearoa and there are similar stories around the residential schools in Canada. In Australia we have the stolen generation so through the periods of colonisation it is very similar.

“I think that somehow sharing and weaving those stories together will help in the healing.”

Residential schools in Canada were government-sponsored religious institutes used to assimilate indigenous children from the late 1800s to the 1970.

Indigenous film producer Paula Devonshire (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation) said the film Indian Horse was one of her most accomplished works.

“I think it did a lot of education for people in Canada and around the world because it talks about the young boy’s life through three different stages of his life. [It’s about] surviving the legacy of living in a residential school.

“What I would have done differently now 10 years later is to have an indigenous director but things were different 10 years ago.”

Devonshire said she is working with Māori film maker Kiel McNaughton and his wife Kelly Warkia on a new TV series set in Aotearoa with Canadian cast.

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