Talking In: Maori English as Index for Maori identity in Film

Warden, Allura, Linguistics, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Lefkowitz, Daniel, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

New Zealand cinema often represented Maori people as an exotic background to a paradisaical country while Pakeha were represented as heroic protagonists helping bring progress to a backwards nation. Until recently the national film industry was almost entirely Pakeha run. Consequently, there was a dearth of Maori presence in all industry positions. However, since the Maori cultural revolution there has been progress in Maori cinematic presence which has spurred the creation of Maori-produced media. Their presence has slowly put cinematic representation into Maori hands. Language is especially important in these productions as the Maori language has declined and Maori English has gained new importance as a cultural identity marker. In this study, I examine language use in two Maori directed films, Ngati (1987) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), to understand how diverse Maori identities and dominant messages are supported. I achieve this by using Third and Fourth cinema theories. Film analyses of these two films have not included language and I hope to fill this literature gap. In conclusion, this study hopes to add a new perspective in the film analyses of Ngati (1987) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016).

MA (Master of Arts)
Maori English, Film Analysis, Maori Identity, Fourth Cinema Theory
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