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DocEdge: Ngā Taonga Double Feature - Wellington

Bastion Point Day 507

As a part of the DocEdge Film Festival Ngā Taonga presents a double feature of two recently-preserved and digitally-restored documentaries of national historical importance.

Te Matakite o Aotearoa / The Maori Land March

Directed by Geoff Steven

He pakipūmeka mo te hīkoi maimai Kapo Wairua Muriwhenua tae atu ki Te Whanganui-ā-Tara. Ko te ūpoko mo tēnei hīkoi ko Whina Cooper. Ka timata tēnei hīkoi hei te rā tekau mā toru o Māhuru 1975.

An observational account of Te Rōpū o Te Matakite (‘Those with Foresight’) protest march from Te Hāpua Marae in the Far North to the gates of Parliament in Wellington. Dame Whina Cooper was the charismatic leader whose cry “Not One More Acre” inspired the 1975 hīkoi sometimes referred to as the Māori Land March.

Fifty marchers left Te Hāpua on 14 September for the 1000-km walk to Wellington. Led by 79-year-old Cooper, the hīkoi quickly grew in strength. As it approached towns and cities, local people joined to offer moral support. The marchers stopped overnight at different maraes, on which Cooper led discussions about the purpose of the march. About 5000 marchers arrived at Parliament and presented a petition signed by 60,000 people to Prime Minister Bill Rowling.

This early Geoff Steven documentary includes interviews with many on the march, including Eva Rickard, Tama Poata and Cooper herself. There is stirring evidence of Cooper’s oratory skills.

The small film crew captured the behind-the-scenes organisation of the coalition of Māori groups required and the spiritual significance of the journey protesting alienation of Māori land. The intricately carved pou whenua that was held upright throughout the journey became symbolic of the perpetual nature of the land protests – a fight that will not cease: “Where one dies there will always be one to replace”.

Bastion Point: Day 507

A film by Merata Mita, Leon Narbey and Gerd Pohlmann. Courtesy of the Hawke Whānau Trust

I noho a Ngāti Whātua me ngā tangata tautoko i a rātou, ki runga ki te whenua e kiia nei ko Takaparawhau, arā Bastion Point, mā ngā rā 507.

Ka whiua atu e te kawanatanga he tokomaha pirihimana kia riro atu te tangata whenua. He whawhai rongonui tēnei nā Ngāti Whātua kia whakahokia ō rātou whenua kāinga, nā rātou i tū kaha, ka tere tautoko ētehi atu o ngā iwi ki a rātou. Nā wai rā ka hokia tērā wā kainga ki te iwi.

A landmark depiction of the eviction of protestors from Takaparawhau (Bastion Point).

From 5 January 1977 until 25 May 1978, Ngāti Whātua reclaimed the land, building living areas and planting crops. On the 507th day, 222 protestors, who were engaged in non-violent resistance, were arrested by 600 police and army officers.

Many Aucklanders were shocked to hear on the radio news that morning that Prime Minister Robert Muldoon had reportedly sent tanks (in fact army trucks) down the motorway towards Takaparawhau / Bastion Point to support the police in their raid. The government had been planning to sell the confiscated Māori land, the most valuable real estate in Tāmaki Makarau, to the highest-bidding developers for them to build and profit from high-cost housing for the wealthy.

The occupation was one of the most significant events in modern-day Māori protest.

“It has a partisan viewpoint, is short on commentary, and emphasises the overkill aspect of the combined police / military operation. It is a style of documentary that I have never deviated from because it best expresses a Māori approach to filmmaking.” – Merata Mita.

This screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Sharon Hawke (Ngati Whātua) and Lawrence Wharerau (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision).