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The New Zealand Film Commission has just announced its Te Rautaki Māori strategy and that’s a great achievement, even though it comes 15 years after New Zealand On Air’s—better late than never.
It’s no secret that Māori films are New Zealand’s most successful both domestically and internationally. Pākēha producers certainly cottoned onto this a long time ago—John Barnett with Whale Rider, Robin Scholes with Once Were Warriors, and more recently Matthew Metcalfe with The Dead Lands.
There are a number of new initiatives to help drive the strategy with an ongoing fund of up to $2.5 million in investment for dramatic feature films made in Te Reo Māori, by Māori filmmakers; a Te Reo development fund; devolved funding supporting internships, mentoring and professional placements for Māori filmmakers; and rangatahi development in the form of wananga, workshops and programmes for young Māori creatives.
Additionally, a one-off $2 million investment for dramatic features in any genre where the director and at least one other key creative is Māori, which some critics might say is there to allow pākēha to keep dipping their toes in the Māori pie.
Criticism aside, Te Rautaki is a significant stake in the ground by the Film Commission that goes along with the changes they propose internally to address representation, protocols and capacity and capability.
Te Rautaki is warmly welcomed by my colleagues at Ngā Aho Whakaari who I’ve been speaking to. And by DEGNZ.
NZFC must also be complimented for continuing to address gender inequity with the announcement of the 125 Fund.
The fund is open to dramatic features in any genre and is offering an investment of $1.25 million each for up to two projects where the director and at least one other key creative is a woman. Critics would also undoubtedly say that this keeps men in the game, too.
With the Budget soon to be announced by the Government, we can only hope that additional funding will be allocated to NZFC as well as to NZ On Air and Radio NZ. Rather than cutting into the essentially static funding the Film Commish has been operating on in the last few years (Screen Production Grant aside), it would be nice to know that these dedicated initiatives are being resourced with new funds rather than taking from existing.
Congratulations New Zealand Film Commission on these efforts! We look forward to the films that will come from them.