Since late last year, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has worked with Downtown City Mission (DCM) Wellington to provide monthly programme screenings. DCM works with those affected by homelessness, provides them with services and assists with finding sustainable living arrangements. “We call the people we work with taumai,” they say, “meaning ‘to settle’.”
Once a month Ngā Taonga staff have walked the few blocks from our office to DCM with a short film, television programme or compilation to share with the taumai. Titles have included This Way of Life, Mt Zion, Papakāinga: Te Whanganui ā-Tara, and Waitangi: What Really Happened.
Lawrence Wharerau, the Kaitoko Kaupapa Torotoronga ā-Iwi Matua – Senior Outreach Curator Māori Specialist, has been primarily tasked with selecting and presenting these programmes.
“Taking and sharing films with the homeless community in Wellington is both interesting and challenging,” he says. “Interesting when you see the level of engagement in the documentaries and films we share with them. Challenging in selecting content that engages the taumai and generates conversation amongst them.”
Conversation does flow, though – people recognise familiar faces or places. “A few of them would say ‘that’s my iwi!’ or ‘there’s my aunty’,” reflects Wharerau.
Ngā Taonga was pleased to be recognised as the DCM Supporter of the Week in June. As Wharerau notes, “the responses and feedback from management and their clientele is consistently positive and valued.”