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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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NT: Te Ara Tauira

Film is a unique way to express our history and whakapapa as polynesian navigators of the Pacific. Tupaia’s Endeavour (2017) directed by Lala Rolls, leaves one amazed and overwhelmed at the experiences of the Tahitian navigator, Tupaia.

However, one thing I found quite challenging in this three-part series documentary, was being exposed to the alarming truth I heard in the evidence provided by the interviews.  The interviewees share unbelievable stories about their knowledge of the arrival of Captain Cook and our very own tipuna, Tupaia, which unfolds the layers of truth of this history. Watching the series involved a process of coming to terms with the disheartening feeling that many of my tipuna were mistreated by Captain Cook and his men on his arrival to Aotearoa.

Watching the film meant knowing that things could have been drastically different if Tupaia had first interacted with our Māori people before they came face to face with Cook’s men. It meant recognising the hope that there could have been an alternative life for Māori, and emphasising the pain that I share with my ancestors and how they were affected by Cook’s arrival.

What I enjoyed in this documentary was the way that Rolls shot the entire series from both a Māori perspective as well as a Tahitian perspective. Allowing both interviewers to contribute to the narrative of the documentary as well as letting them represent their ethnic/national backgrounds, lets viewers to see the story through the point of view of a native of the Pacific Ocean.

The series finds meaning in the unanswered questions that have been a burden on Māori and Tahitian people for decades, by gathering together the verbal knowledge of their arrival from locals and rangatira of the Taputapuatea and Gisborne regions. The documentary reflects my ancestral history and my identity as a Māori, and provides me with the knowledge that enhances my understanding of the history of my whakapapa.

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