Te ao Māori lens key to media major

08 Feb, 2022

Telling authentic Māori narratives, from the heart, is the goal for Zayne Collier (Ngāti Porou me Te Rarawa) and two years into the Māori Media major at AUT he has already created his own short films and apps.

One of Zayne’s apps, created as part of the Digital Media course option, was designed to identify native plants and whether they are edible, non-edible or medicinal, so users can refer to it when they come across native plants around New Zealand.

Lecturer Dr Stanley Frielick who teaches the Digital Media courses – where students develop their own apps, eBooks or digital projects – says the focus is on ‘critical making’.

“Understanding the nature and role of digital media in society, and its influence, is just as vital as learning how to make good content.”

The films Zayne created as part of the Kaupapa Māori for Screens, Writing Māori Shorts and Kaupapa Māori Film Project courses covered two very different topics: ‘Manu Learns to Fly’ was about a Māori adolescent who becomes fixated on ‘popping manus’ (doing dive bombs in the water) to win an international competition, while ‘Te Utu’ was a story of vengeance and complicated family bonds set in the early 1500s, with the lead character Taiao named after Zayne’s marae in the Far North.

Zayne says as well as enjoying the courses and content in the Māori media degree, he has really appreciated the support and teaching approach from the lecturers at AUT’s Te Ara Poutama, including Dr Robert Pouwhare.

“The teaching style and the whole degree programme is grounded in te ao Māori (the Māori lens or world view),” says Zayne.

“Post-degree I want to make movies that tell Māori narratives, both contemporary and traditional. Whether I’m a writer, director, producer – I don’t mind, as long as I can tell our stories, ka ngata tōku ngākau.”

Programme leader Dr Maureen Sinton says the goal of the Māori Media major is to produce media practitioners with a breadth of understanding of tikanga, kaupapa, mātauranga Māori, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to empower graduates to apply this knowledge in all facets of the media.

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