Maori movie opens human rights week

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights yesterday, Samoa screened the film Waru at the Apollo theatre last night. 

Waru is a film directed by eight Maori women and comprises eight different life changing stories surrounding the death of a boy at the hands of his family. 

“So it’s eight single stories all at 10 o’clock in the morning on the third day of the funeral, and the only thing that intertwines the story is it talks about social issues around women and how we have to basically survive,” Paula Whetu Jones, one of the women directors, also a producer and writer said. 

Paula said the film was made two years ago in Auckland, New Zealand, and this is its first time to be screened in Samoa. 

“The stories are all based on true accounts. They’re all part of our realities as women, and women filmmakers and mothers. 

“We got sent to an island where we sat there for a couple of days, we had our scripts, and on the third day they brought in actors. It was a pretty fast process. 

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“It was supposed to be for the web. We were guns for hire, so they put out a callout for Maori women directors and writers, and they received 50 applications.”

Paula said Waru is the first film in 30 years that’s been made by Maori women. 

“My story is about the girl who confronts the community about knowing her killed Waru,” she told the Samoa Observer.  

“I already had my story because over the years of making documentaries I had come across a lot of young girls who had been abused and ignored. And so the story that I wrote is that she confronts the uncle who was abusing her and the community for knowing about waru and not doing anything.”

It took six months to film the movie from beginning to end, which was really quick, she said. 

“My story was what I wanted to tell for a very long time. It is about Mere and she is a girl who does not belong to anybody, and the community she’s in. 

“She used to be looked after by her Nan, but she passed away, and so she was just passed around from person to person, and abused. People knew, and of course she didn’t really belong to anybody. She had to look after the kids, so Waru was one of the kids she looked after. 

“Mere was looking after another little boy, his name is Rua, and he wanted to go in and see his friend Waru and she takes them and her nan comes to her, and just with the corner of her eyes she sees one of her uncles with a little girl, and she just makes the decision to confront him, and she does in front of everybody. The kicker is he doesn’t speak Maori, and she speaks Maori, so she calls him out and the community.”

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