A Run Through
Growing up in a Māori environment, it was classic Māori films that dominated the screens in my Kura (alongside the best of kapa haka) and reverberated within the walls of my home. I can proudly exclaim that one of the biggest throwbacks for me and my whānau is none other than the classic opening scene of the film Boy brought to us by our strange and beloved Taika Waititi ebbing in the waves of Patea Māori club and cow pad perfume drowning the staple tangihanga gumboots.
Aotearoa cinema has produced some truly remarkable films over the years, and many of these movies have become classics in their own right. In this article, we will take a look at the iconic staples and nostalgic screenings of Aotearoa’s finest, including “Boy” and other standout films.
One such film is “Boy” by Taika Waititi, a heartwarming coming-of-age story that captures the spirit of New Zealand in the 1980s.
Released in 2010, “Boy” is a comedy-drama film set in rural New Zealand. The movie follows the story of an 11-year-old boy named Alamein, who lives with his grandmother and younger brother. When Alamein’s father and namesake, whom he idolizes, returns home after many years away, the boy is thrilled. However, he soon learns that his father is not the heroic figure he had imagined. The film explores themes of family, growing up, and the reality of life in rural New Zealand.
The film, whilst written and directed by Taika Waititi, also starred him in the movie as Alamein’s father. Waititi’s eccentric sense of humor (Māori ake nei) and unique storytelling style have made “Boy” a favorite among moviegoers around the world. The film was a critical and a commercial success and won several awards at international film festivals.
All in all, “Boy” is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that captures the spirit of Aotearoa in the 1980s and life in the wopwops within a Māori populated and village-like town.
“Whale Rider” is a 2002 film that tells the story of a young Māori girl named Pai, who dreams of becoming the chief of her tribe. However, her grandfather, who is the current chief, believes that only a male can lead the tribe. The film explores themes of gender roles, tradition, and the clash between modern and traditional ways of life.
The movie was directed by Niki Caro and stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai. Castle-Hughes was just 13 years old when the film was made and earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance. “Whale Rider” was a critical and commercial success and helped to put New Zealand cinema on the world stage.
Once Were Warriors
“Once Were Warriors” is a 1994 film that explores the lives of a Māori family living in urban New Zealand. The film follows the story of Beth, a mother of five, and her husband Jake, a violent and abusive man who is struggling with his own demons. The film explores themes of poverty, domestic violence, and the impact of colonisation on Māori culture.
The movie was directed by Lee Tamahori and stars Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison as Beth and Jake. “Once Were Warriors” was a controversial film that sparked debate about the portrayal of Māori culture in cinema. However, the movie was also a critical and commercial success that has become a classic of New Zealand cinema and burnt Jake Da Muss into the minds of our society.
In conclusion, New Zealand cinema has produced some truly remarkable films over the years, and “Boy,” “Whale Rider,” and “Once Were Warriors” are just a few examples of the country’s rich cinematic heritage. These movies capture the spirit of New Zealand in their own unique ways and have helped to establish the country as a major player in the world of cinema, as well as establish their own seat in the corner of the mind labeled nostalgia in every New Zealander.