by Kyna Morgan
In July 2012, I attended a film festival on Waiheke Island outside of Auckland, New Zealand. Invited by a colleague who worked for a big film organization at the time and helped organize the event, this was the first ever festival of films made by Maori women. Named the Whiti Whitiāhua Wāhine: Māori Women's Film Festival, it was part of the nationwide Matariki Festival which ran for several weeks. Several of the filmmakers attended and introduced their work, among them Kararaina Rangihau who is devoted to making films in the Maori language. On the ferry leaving the island for Auckland, I was able to catch a few minutes with her so she could talk about her film, Taku Rakāu e, which explores the story behind a well-known waiata (a Maori song that preserves the wisdom and knowledge of ancestors). Rangihau's film was produced by the late Merata Mita, the legendary and extraordinarily influential filmmaker. Mita was one of the earliest Maori women filmmakers and helped to influence many filmmakers both within and outside of New Zealand.