At the screening of Whetū Marama - Bright Star. From left: Byron Brown, Ian Karika, Aotearoa New Zealand film director - Te Arepa Kahi, Master Carver - Mike Tavioni, and Tiana Haxton. MELINA ETCHES/23071603
In honour of Matariki Day and the inaugural visit by the Aotearoa New Zealand Minister of Māori Development, Willie Jackson, the High Commission of New Zealand hosted a reception and screening of Whetū Marama - Bright Star, over the weekend.
Whetū Mārama-Bright Star tells the story of Sir
Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi, also known as Hek Busby, and his significance to Te
Ao Māori in rekindling and reclaiming the lost art of traditional Māori
voyaging by the stars.
Busby sailed the vast Pacific using the rediscovery of
traditional knowledge navigating by the stars.
The film is directed and produced by Toby Mills and
Aileen O'Sullivan who spent 15 years developing the documentary alongside
Busby, who died in 2019.
Mills attended the screening at the Empire Theatre, he said the film is “a reconnection
of us being together as celestial navigators canoe builders…”
Ben Ponia, Pa Marie Ariki, Ake Lewis and Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rebecca Tavioni. MELINA ETCHES/23071605
“Polynesian voyagers are amazing how they’ve
reconnected us all now we know now that we are sailing in the footpaths of our
ancestors, there is some real power for our tamariki for our young ones to have
a real solid foundation in their identity and know who they are and where they
come from,” said Mills.
Aotearoa New Zealand High Commissioner Tui Dewes welcomed
guests to the screening which was selected to be the centrepiece of the
Matariki Korikori film festival “highlighting and strengthening our Māori to
Matariki is a time for remembering those who have
passed on, celebrating the present and looking to the future, is the Māori name
for a cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades.
New Zealand High Commissioner Tui Dewes and Aotearoa New Zealand Film Director - Toby Mills. MELINA ETCHES/23071606
Aotearoa officially marked Matariki as a public
holiday for the second time this year.
Jackson engaged effortlessly with his improvised and
humorous banter which had the audience in fits of laughter.
Pius Mau Piailug, (1932-2010)master navigator from
Satawal, Yap State, taught Aotearoa, Hawaiians, Cook Islanders and other
Polynesians the arts of navigating without instruments features in the film,
alongside Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator and CEO of Polynesian Voyaging
Society, as well as the Cook Islands master navigator Peia Patai.