11 Aug 2017

Loading Docs: He Kākano Ahau – From The Spaces In Between

10:52 am on 11 August 2017

A courageous takatāpui (Māori LGBTQI) activist is fighting for true diversity in our Gay Pride celebrations.


He Kākano Ahau has been released as part of Loading Docs - a launchpad for short New Zealand documentaries.


Tell me about the film ... 

It's basically trying to give a different view of the LGBQT community and the way we celebrate pride. It is trying to do that by introducing us to takatāpui, which is a Māori word that is being reclaimed and being used as a blanket term for Māori who are LGBQT in many different ways. It's mainly about my friend Kassie who identifies with takatāpui, and she - along with a lot of people - feel alienated with our pride celebrations.

The film is trying to say that some of us feel alienated from that pride space, so if we don’t fit there, where do we fit? And Kassie is introducing us to what is to be takatāpui. Te Whanawhana - a great takatāpui kapa haka group - is the core of the film.

The final question of the film is, if they will take part in the parade, what does it mean for them to be in this quite white celebration?

How did you find working in both a Māori and a Pākehā world?

Very cool, very different and I think it changed my team's film practice quite drastically. It made our team interesting because I’m Pākehā and the producer and director of photography are both takatāpui women.

Traditional Pākehā film-making means you take a release form saying that you have the right to film people and do whatever you want. Te Whanawhana were not having a fuck with that, so we had to come to their practice and would need to be a part of that, learn the songs for a few hours and sit down for tea afterwards. We would be asked what we can bring to the group. Jamie and I joined the group and over a few months of going to the practices we only filmed a few times, it was mostly us just getting to know the group.

Do you think working in Māori protocols has given you something personal to take away?

Yeah, it has changed the way I want to be approaching my practice completely. It has made me think differently about the reason for making documentaries. I think the people who are onscreen and whose stories are being told should have more say than I should, that is something I’ve slowly come to understand. These are other people’s lives who are being represented and we should establish that from day one.

- Interview with Chev Hassett.