Maori on the Silver Screen

The Evolution of Indigenous Feature Filmmaking in Aotearoa/New Zealand

  • Emiel Martens
    University of Amsterdam


This article examines the evolution of Maori filmmaking since the 1980s and explores this Indigenous cinema in the context of developments in the New Zealand film industry. With Barry Barclay’s idea of ‘Fourth Cinema’ in mind, it focuses on the predominantly statefunded production of Maori feature films. The article is divided in three parts. The first part traces the beginnings of Maori cinema back to the 1970s and introduces the first three feature films directed by Maori filmmakers: Ngati (Barry Barclay, 1987), Mauri (Merata Mita, 1988), and Te Rua (Barry Barclay, 1991). The second part discusses the mainstream success of Once Were Warriors (Lee Tamahori, 1994) and the film’s paradoxical contribution to Maori cinema in the 1990s. The third and final part explores the intensified course of state-funded Maori filmmaking since the 2000s and addresses some of the opportunities and challenges facing Indigenous New Zealand cinema in the current environment of institutional and commercial globalisation.

Published: 2012-01-01
Pages:2 to 30
Section: Articles
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How to Cite
Martens, E. (2012). Maori on the Silver Screen: The Evolution of Indigenous Feature Filmmaking in Aotearoa/New Zealand. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, 5(1), 2-30.