10 Jul 2015

Native American actors welcomed with Powhiri

6:28 am on 10 July 2015

Two well-known Native American actors have arrived in Aotearoa to help Māori learn more about their culture.

Saginaw Grant is welcomed to Wellington.

Saginaw Grant is welcomed to Wellington. Photo: RNZ/ Adriana Webber

The respected actor and indigenous cultures advocate, Saginaw Grant, along with actor and model Rick Mora, were greeted with a pōwhiri at Wellington Airport yesterday.

It is thought to be the first delegation of Native American people to visit the country since 1990.

Dressed in their full Native American tribal regalia, the pair were greeted by representatives of Ngāti Pōneke.

Saginaw Grant said it was an honour to receive such a welcome.

He said the two culture share many similarities, including the value of respecting their elders.

"They made an effort today, not only to greet us but to honour us by letting us come here. They told us, make yourself at home, whatever you have to say we'll listen. People have to listen to what our elders tell them."

Rick Mora, one of the stars of the teen-cult film series Twilight, said he was taken aback by the welcome and the reverence accorded Saginaw Grant.

"It brings a warmth to my heart to see my elder honoured the way he is meant to be honoured."

The actors will host a series of talks at the upcoming Armageddon Expo about their ancestry, or whakapapa, and the importance of maintaining traditional cultures.

They will also discuss personal stories about their journey to Hollywood, spirituality, purpose, and caring for the environment.

Saginaw Grant

Photo: RNZ/ Adriana Webber

Saginaw Grant, is of Sac and Fox Nation origin, and is a respected elder, traditional dancer, speaker and actor.

He has an extensive list of film and television credits to his name and has appeared in films and television shows such as Community, Breaking Bad, The Lone Ranger, American Horror Story and the World's Fastest Indian.

Mr Grant recently led a walk-out of actors from an Adam Sandler movie, The Ridiculous Six, after finding the script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and misrepresented their culture.