Recalling Tūrangawaewae: Pōwhiri in New Zealand Feature Film
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Like a number of fundamental Māori rituals and practices, pōwhiri have appeared in New Zealand fiction feature film since its beginnings in the silent era. Pōwhiri are multisensory, kinesthetic experiences that, for most Māori, recall one’s tūrangawaewae – where he or she stands and belongs – because in general, the predominant experience of pōwhiri is at home, amongst one’s own community. This article critically analyses pōwhiri as it has been constructed in New Zealand feature film history. It has a historical overview of pōwhiri and then focuses on Tearepa Kahi’s Mt. Zion (2013). The analysis considers commonly portrayed elements of pōwhiri, and how the ‘real’ influences the ‘reel,’ and perhaps vice-versa. How might the way pōwhiri have been imagined and presented in feature film be seen to reflect and perhaps even shift, change or challenge ideas about what it means to belong as Māori to Aotearoa now in the twenty-first century?