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‘The Convert’ to inspire young Māori into the film industry

Te Ahikaa Trotman

The latest reo Māori project, The Convert, will launch on the big screen on March 19.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Te Kohe Tuhaka is one of the four producers of The Convert as well as one of its stars and says it was enjoyable to see the fruits of their labour hit the big screen.

The story sees Guy Pearce portray a lay preacher who arrives at a British settlement in 1830s New Zealand.

His violent past is soon drawn into question and his faith put to the test as he finds himself caught in the middle of a bloody war between Māori tribes.

It was produced by Tuhaka, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum and Robin Scholes and directed by Lee Tamahori.

Photo/New Zaland Film Commission

Tuhaka says Monday night’s Auckland premiere was heartwarming to witness.

But he says he can’t remember how many kaupapa reo Māori he had had a hand in.

“You can’t tell someone who loves his reo not to do kaupapa reo.”

“If the reo is a principle of a project, then of course my heart is going to be in it. That’s not to say I can’t do anything else but I’d rather it be in the reo.”

Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga NZ Film Commission is facing a major restructure after funding cuts and up to 21 staff are to lose their roles because of it but Tuhaka is determined about finding a solution.

“I need to remove my producer hat and look at the bigger picture. It’s hard enough to create new projects here but now, with this added pressure, we need to find a solution.”

Tuhaka believes this film will be good for Māori in the film industry because it’s who Māori are as people.

“I believe Ngāi Māori should be in support of this film because we know that that’s us standing amidst the fire, and I want all of us to come together and take a closer look at your history and try to understand who you are as New Zealanders.”

Te Kohe Tuhaka in The Dead Lands. Photo/Supplied

“I’m a father myself, with three sons. I’m in this industry to be able to show our future generations faces that look like their own, so here we are as te ao Māori saying ‘Come into our world of movies because this is what we do, our ability to entertain people, to talk to people.”

“I believe Māori will prosper in this industry because this is us.”

Hero Image: Photo/New Zaland Film Commission

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