Local film-makers create Waru
New Zealand has the worst rate of child abuse in the developed world, and a film aiming to open discussions around these appalling statistics features filmmakers from the Far North.
weaves eight short films into one, sharing the perspectives of eight characters dealing with the loss of Waru, a small boy, at the hands of his caregiver. Casey Kaa, from Matauri Bay, wrote and directed one of the ten-minute sequences for the film which shares the story of Waru’s teacher Anahera, and how she deals with the loss of him.
Production company Brown Sugar Apple Grunt hired a collective of nine wahine (women) Ma¯ori film-makers to create the film in 2016.
‘‘There was a set of nonnegotiables,’’ Kaa says.
The story had to be around child abuse, each sequence had to centre around the same story, each film had to be a continuous shot, it had to be written and directed by a Ma¯ori woman and feature a Ma¯ori lead actress, Kaa says.
The sequences also had to be shot in one day and from 10am to 10.10am. The result was the 88-minute film, which has been selected to play at several international film festivals.
‘‘ was in response to the alarming child abuse rates in New Zealand and wanting to be a champion for change for tamariki [children],’’ Kaa says.
The New Zealand Film Commission had also conducted research which showed a lack of content by Ma¯ori women (the last feature film by Ma¯ori women was made in 1988) so was an opportunity to connect Ma¯ori women into the conversation, Kaa says.
‘‘We hope that we open dialogue, we hope that the dialogue instigates change, that the change moves towards healing. There’s a theme throughout the film that small acts of kindness and reaching out can have a great effect on protecting more of our children.’’
Fellow makers of Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene and Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu are from the Hokianga.
premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival in August and has since played at the Toronto International Film Festival.
will screen at the Hokianga Film Festival on October 20, and the Cathay Cinema in Kerikeri from November 23.
Matauri Bay film-maker Casey Kaa on the set of Waru.