To the outside world, New Zealand is often personified by its breathtakingly beautiful natural features; conjured up so majestically by Peter Jackson in his Lord of the Rings films. However, in contrast to its Antipodean neighbour, very little of Kiwi society is ever shown outside of its borders. This is especially the case when it comes to the Māoris pople. In 1994, Once Were Warriors shone a light on a troubled and vastly under-represented community. Waru goes a step further.
To be a Māori in modern New Zealand means you’re often stigmatised, belittled and marginalised. The voice of women in this extremely macho and patriarchal indigenous community is far too seldom heard. In Waru, eight female Māori film-makers make eight short connected films centred on a single event. The funeral of a young boy who died at the hands of his caregiver. These vignettes interlink to form one continuous narrative focusing on women connected to the child.
Waru is a powerful piece of dramatic film-making which sheds light on the female Māori perspective through the subject of child abuse. Undoubtedly, some segments are more powerful than others but they join together to form a rounded picture of modern life within the community. Whilst there are obviously severe problems which affect the Māori, this is often due to the fact that they’re disproportionally much more likely to suffer socio-economic inequalities. Waru goes a long way in highlighting their plight.
Waru is in cinemas from 7 November.