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Inspiring Maori filmmakers feature in Pataka exhibition

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The influence a pair of trailblazing indigenous filmmakers has had on a generation of modern-day artists is the focus of a moving new exhibition coming to Pātaka Gallery + Museum.

Opening at Pātaka on 7 April, From the Shore, examines how filmmakers Barry Barclay and Merita Mita have shaped the art of six modern movie-makers.

Barclay and Mita are widely regarded as the first indigenous New Zealand filmmakers to create films by Māori, about Māori, and for Māori.

The pair were pioneers of advocating Māori rights on screen, passionately advancing the cause of indigenous New Zealanders both in front of and behind the camera.

Pātaka is the first stop for the exhibition, which is touring New Zealand, and is the brain-child of Ioana Gordon Smith, Curator at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery.

Their rich body of work is examined through the lens of the art of New Zealander Lisa Reihana, renowned Australian photographer and video artist Tracey Moffatt and artists Tanu Gago, Robert George, Nova Paul and Tuafale Tanoa’I, aka "Linda T".

Through the exhibition, the six artists look at the many different views on what it means to represent indigenous people, places and ideas on the big screen.

From the Shore takes its title from Barclay’s metaphor of indigenous cinema as "a camera on the shore" that looks at the issue of how New Zealand was colonised, and how that has affected Māori.

Pātaka Contemporary Art Curator Mark-Hutchins-Pond welcomed the mana of these artists, who had helped to define the genre of Māori cinema, to Porirua.

"We are delighted to be able to host an exhibition that pays tribute to such important figures in the world of indigenous and New Zealand filmmaking.

"Barclay and Mita were the first Māori directors of a feature film and their ground-breaking work inspired the next generation of artists, six of whom have contributed work to this exhibition.

The exhibition’s curator, Ioana Gordon-Smith, wants the exhibition to inform and challenge visitors about how Māori artists might use film to represent their whakapapa on screen, and encourage them to look at their own feelings on this important area of cinema."

Gordon-Smith said the rich body of work the pair had left behind provided a highly relevant and constant source of reference for today’s film artists.

All six artists featured in From the Shore have worked in either documentary filmmaking or cinema, but each have their own unique style and approach to representing indigenous people on screen.

The exhibition runs until 21 July.

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