Recalling Tūrangawaewae: Pōwhiri in New Zealand Feature Film

Wilson, J
Item type
Journal Article
Degree name
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga

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?

Pöwhiri; Ritual; Film; Fiction; Performance; Wero
MAI Journal 2017: Volume 6 Issue 2
Rights statement
MAI Journal is an open access journal that publishes multidisciplinary peer-reviewed articles that critically analyse and address indigenous and Pacific issues in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.