Film and television industry veteran Hineani Melbourne is laying down a wero (challenge) for state funders to do more to support the Māori screen industry so that its potential is fully realised.
In her recent He Waka Hiringa (Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge) presentation in Hamilton, Hineani argues there has been a minimalist approach from the Government to funding Māori productions to meet “cultural and legal obligations”.
But this, she says, had led to an unsustainable Māori screen industry in its current form.
Hineani (Tūhoe, Tainui) says her project hasn’t looked specifically at why this underfunding has occurred but “I personally would say it is institutional racism”.
She notes Māori TV was only set up after agitation at Privy Council level but that true levels of funding for the service have never really increased over the years.
She argues that with “attitudinal changes and sustainable funding the Māori screen industry can become [a more] important part of the New Zealand screen industry, and create markets both nationally and internationally”.
Hineani’s view is based on more than 40 years experience in film and television, both here and overseas.
Māori have little representation on crown bodies allocating locally sourced funding for projects in New Zealand, she adds.
“If I was a business and seven of the 10 items I produced sold well – such as Māori-themed films – it would make business sense to to invest more in these areas and to help empower Māori in the industry.”
Hineani feels Māori stories help provide a strong point of difference. “That’s why Māori films do so well internationally. People want to see something unique. Indigenous storytellers hold the future.”