Cul­tural gate­ways

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

CRE­ATIVE me­dia projects be­tween New Zealand and Tai­wan could be on the cards af­ter a cul­tural ex­change be­tween both na­tions.

Six Maori De­vel­op­ment stu­dents from AUT have just re­turned from Tai­wan, where they learned about its indige­nous peo­ple.

The stu­dents are ma­jor­ing in Maori me­dia stud­ies.

The trip was a once-in-al­ife­time op­por­tu­nity for Eru Paranihi from New Wind­sor that opened his mind to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of fu­ture travel or even cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tions.

The ex­change came about af­ter the stu­dents met filmmaker Tony Coolidge, who is also the di­rec­tor of the Tap Root Cul­tural Ex­change Pro­gramme, at the Wairoa Maori Film Fes­ti­val in 2012.

Mr Coolidge is Amer­i­can Tai­wanese and dis­cov­ered as an adult he was of indige­nous ex­trac­tion. He be­gan ex­plor­ing his her­itage through writ­ing and film.

He was so im­pressed with the AUT stu­dents he in­vited them to Tai­wan. Dur­ing the 15-day visit the stu­dents met with indige­nous elders and vis­ited the coun­try’s na­tional indige­nous univer­sity.

Mr Paranihi, 26, says he was blown away by the ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘Over­all it was a cul­tural ex­change, two dif­fer­ent cul­tures min­gling and meet­ing each other.

‘‘It was the indige­nous peo­ple of this county, the Maori, meet­ing up with indige­nous Tai­wanese to share our cul­tures.’’

While he was there he learned of the po­ten­tial for joint me­dia projects.

‘‘One of the coolest things for a me­dia stu­dent was for fu­ture co-op­er­a­tive projects,’’ he says.

‘‘There is a trade agree­ment be­tween New Zealand and Tai­wan and that in­cludes me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions, so if it’s a planned co- op­er­a­tion be­tween indige­nous Tai­wanese and Maori then not only can they ap­ply for fund­ing from their sources but they can ap­ply for fund­ing from here, and like­wise we can ap­ply over there – pro­vided it’s a co­op­er­a­tive.’’

A film chart­ing the jour­ney of an indige­nous Tai­wanese per­son com­ing to New Zealand is one idea he has for a co-pro­duc­tion.

An­other high­light was meet­ing an el­derly woman with whom he was able to forge a con­nec­tion de­spite not shar­ing a lan­guage.

The 97-year-old spoke only her indige­nous lan­guage and a smat­ter­ing of Ja­panese so con­ver­sa­tion had to be re­layed through her Chi­nese-speak­ing son and a trans­la­tor.

‘‘From the whole trip this was the per­son who will stay with me for­ever.

‘‘The per­son I will re­mem­ber the most is her. She just had a beau­ti­ful soul.

‘‘It was a priv­i­lege to meet her.’’

The pair bonded by shar­ing some sweets and were able to com­mu­ni­cate on their own through body lan­guage.

‘‘I was just my cheeky self with her and she was laugh­ing,’’ Mr Paranihi says.

From a me­dia per­spec­tive he says there are things both coun­tries can learn from each other.

‘‘With their indige­nous me­dia it’s just re­cently got up and run­ning, where we have TVNZ that plays some Maori pro­grammes and Maori Tele­vi­sion.

‘‘They are just their feet.

‘‘But they have more pro­gram­ming catered to­wards their elders which is some­thing we could do, but in say­ing that they could prob­a­bly cater more to their youth be­cause that’s who you want to tar­get to re­vi­talise your lan­guage.

‘‘They are the next gen­er­a­tion who are go­ing to use the lan­guage.

‘‘I think their big­gest chal­lenge is it’s a lot harder for them to have their voices heard than for Maori to be heard. But they are get­ting there.’’

find­ing

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