Stories of Us - Ngā Wai e Rua

This 45-minute documentary shares some of our country's unique stories through its audiovisual treasures.

Please note: The footage and commentary within the film reflects the time in which it was taken.

During 2019 New Zealand commemorated the 250th anniversary of the first onshore encounters between Māori and non-Māori, and the feats of Pacific navigators and explorers who reached and settled in Aotearoa New Zealand many years earlier.

The film compilation Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us, a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, came about because we saw the Tuia 250 commemoration as an opportunity to share some of our country’s unique stories through the audiovisual treasures cared for by Ngā Taonga dating right back to 1900. These range from important national events to everyday happenings, and all add to the story of who we are and where we’ve come from.

Distilling these audiovisual treasures down to a 45-minute programme was an enjoyable challenge. We wanted the items we selected to evoke a strong sense of the shared stories and rich dual histories of Aotearoa, and we hope Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us does that for you.

Programme details

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has a role to collect, care for and share the audiovisual taonga of Aotearoa. All of the material included in Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us has been reviewed and cleared by the depositor, copyright holder and iwi as kaitiaki.

The material is presented in a chronological order, from some of the first recorded footage in Aotearoa New Zealand, to material that has been published in more recent times.

Notes on each excerpt used in the full compilation are provided here for further information and to help you understand the material in its historical context. Teachers interested in learning how to use the collection material to bring New Zealand’s histories to life, can email us at

Please note that some of the material included in Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us has not been fully preserved. Ngā Taonga is always grateful for any donations that can help save more of our audiovisual heritage.

Discussion points

With nearly 50 items Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us is a snapshot of our nation’s histories in film. We hope these snippets excite your interest in learning more about our nation’s histories and help you to have some honest conversations about Māori and European settlement of Aotearoa.

Ngā Wai e Rua: Stories of Us is not a documentary, nor is it a comprehensive collection of footage of relevant events in our history – recording equipment was only introduced in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1885, and not all events that are considered significant now were recorded at the time. We expect this will get you thinking about how our histories have been recorded, and some discussion points have been included below – although we hope you will have more of your own.

  • Who was behind the lens?
  • How does the filmmaker influence the stories they tell?
  • What motivates the filmmaker?
  • How/why are New Zealanders portrayed in this footage?
  • How do we perceive this footage today?
  • What stories and people were less likely to be filmed?

About Tuia Mātauranga

The Tuia Mātauranga education programme supports teaching and learning, highlighting local people, places, and events that have helped shape Aotearoa New Zealand histories. The programme is aimed at inspiring children and young people to explore their own stories of who they are and where they come from, to strengthen the knoweldge of their whakapapa and identity.

Find out more at

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