Edit: The Lawnmower Men of Kapu will be screening as part of the Matariki Films on Marae. It will screened alongside Mt Zion and three other Maori shorts at Piritahi Marae, AUT Marae, Manurewa Marae and Hoani Waititi Marae during July. Find more information here.
On Sunday I went to the Nga Whanaunga Maori Pasifika Shorts Screening that was on as part of the festival.
Nga Whanaunga means relatedness and connectedness. It’s associated with family and kinship. The films selected for this screening were therefore chosen by Leo Koziol of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival with that in mind. Seven shorts were shown, these being Tatau, The Dump, Baby Steps, Whakatiki, Nine of Hearts, Snow in Paradise and The Lawnmower Men of Kapu. It was a pretty impressive showing and I really enjoyed it, but what I was really there for was The Lawnmower Men of Kapu.
Directed by my aunt Libby Hakaraia and produced by her partner Tainui Stephens, The Lawnmower Men of Kapu is pretty close to home. Well, it is home. Set at Tainui Marae in Otaki it’s about family and pulling your weight. The uncles haven’t been doing that, leaving all the work to the aunties. While the uncles are played by Rawiri Paratene, Sonny Arahanga and Rob Mokaraka the rest of the cast were pure whanau, with my great aunts and cousin Atawhai making up the core cast. Littered throughout the piece are shots of cousins, my grandfather, you get the picture.
It was a bizarre thing, watching my aunties and co up on the big screen. It was even funnier that it was about marae politics, but it was pretty good, and I don’t think I’m entirely biased here. Not only did the rest of the crowd seem to enjoy it, but it also won the People’s Choice Award at Wairoa Film Festival.
I think that what was so great about The Lawnmower Men of Kapu, but also all of the films showing in Nga Whanaunga was that you could really connect with them. I’m not really a person for short films/ stories etc – I want the full story, but these shorts were so familiar that it didn’t leave you hanging so much. They’re stories that you can relate to because they could be you, or your cousin, your uncle, etc. They’re real New Zealand stories.