Play

00:00

/

00:00

Full screen
Video quality

Low 0 MB

High 0 MB

HD 0 MB

Captions
Volume
Volume
Hero image for Te Matakite o Aotearoa - The Māori Land March

Te Matakite o Aotearoa - The Māori Land March

Television (Full Length) – 1975

The Making of Te Matakite o Aotearoa

The 1970s were exciting and changing times. We had recovered from the 60s, and we baby boomers were flexing our muscles both culturally and politically. As the song said, “...the times they are a-changin'…”

I was a young filmmaker, heading up a filmmakers' co-operative: Alternative Cinema.

Being around the edge of the political scene that was active in Auckland at that time, I learned of plans by a group of Northern Māori to undertake a protest march from Te Hapua in the far north to Poneke (Wellington), to protest the alienation of Māori land. It was to be led by a matriarch and female leader of Ngāpuhi, Dame Whina Cooper. 

This seemed to me an ideal opportunity to have a shot at making an observational type documentary, and at the same time help spread the message of the march to a wide audience.

I met with Whina and some of the march organisers, and explained my aims and filmmaking philosophy. It was basically to capture what happens when it happens, and attempt to portray the spirit and atmosphere of the undertaking as well as explain its underlying reasons and message. Eventually, I was given permission for my crew (as yet to be found) and I to travel with the marchers, as part of the core group. There were to be no other film people allowed to travel the whole distance, or to be given such close and intimate access.

The next challenge was to raise the money to make the film, as it was to be well beyond the hand to mouth productions I'd previously been involved in. I approached the newly established TV2 network; being set up in some old side streets in Auckland, the channel was in charge of its own programming. Eventually they agreed to help support the film, in return for New Zealand screening rights. It was to be the first ever NZ documentary to be shown on TV2.

The arrangement with TV2 was that they would supply the camera equipment and film and processing, but more importantly they would allow a good friend of mine and great cameraman, Leon Narbey to travel with us the whole march and be the main cinematographer. Leon was then a staff cameraman at TV2's Christchurch offices. 

Phil Dadson was another friend and member of the Auckland co-op. We had worked on short films together; he became the documentary's sound recorder. The final member of our small team was an Australian filmmaker who was reting a basement room in the co-op's building, and surviving by making candles there to sell at the local hippie market. Gil had travelled on the protest boat Fri to Mururoa, when it sailed to confront the French over the Pacific H Bomb tests. He was to be the camera assistant and general hand on the road. 

With the crew in place, we still had to fund the daily shooting expenses and the numerous post-production charges which making a documentary that was contracted to be delivered for screening in prime time entailed. I didn’t want to be associated with an unfinished programme.

Using contacts in some of the numerous political groups that were active at the time, I managed to scrape together enough funding to cover the basic budget we had. Anti-racism church groups, the Polynesian Panther Party and Ngā Tamatoa all helped get the film off the ground. 

The great fear of making a documentary on an open-ended event such as a march that was planned to take at least a month to complete was we didn’t know what we would have to film, and what was going to be important. We had limited film stock, and lacked the freedom of today’s “when in doubt, shoot it” digital environment. 

Also there was the background fear of what we'd get to film, and whether we'd get footage that made a good documentary, suitable for a TV audience. We didn’t know what might happen when we hit the road. Would anyone come? Would the march reach its destination as sore feet and the endless miles took their toll? I didn’t intend to use any narration to tell the audience what they were seeing, wanting to rely on what actually happened in front of the camera. It is a risky style for covering an open ended event (its interesting to note in hindsight that the completed hour-long film was made on a ratio of just 4:1 — ie we only shot just over four hours of total film time on an event that took so many weeks to unfold!)

After buying a secondhand Holden station wagon to use as a crew car and packing our few bags of gear, the four of us turned up in Te Hapua to start on our long journey south. We were to spend the next month eating and sleeping on marae down the length of the North Island, spending time with some remarkable and dedicated people; sharing their passion, humour and the kaupapa of the march. It was a remarkable journey, both personally and professionally and it would eventually lead to a finished documentary, Te Matakite O Aotearoa

The story of a group of people with dedication, determination and dignity took their message to the country; a group of people who marched into history.

- Geoff Steven founded filmmaker's co-operative Alternative Cinema in 1972. He went on to direct documentaries on China, tattooing and Centrepoint, plus features Skin Deep and Strata. After time as a programme commissioner at TV3 and TVNZ, Steven now leads Our Place - World Heritage, a photographic databank of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.     

If you liked this, you might also like...

Collection
Collection image for The Matariki Collection

The Matariki Collection

A selection of iconic Māori TV, film and music video for...

Thumbnail image for Bastion Point - The Untold Story

Bastion Point - The Untold Story

Chroncile of the Māori Land March, another key moment of...

Thumbnail image for Patu!

Patu!

Another documentary chronicling protest

Thumbnail image for Koha - Whina Cooper (part one)

Koha - Whina Cooper (part one)

Koha profile of Dame Whina Cooper

Thumbnail image for Land of a Thousand Lovers

Land of a Thousand Lovers

Another documentary about Māori land rights

Thumbnail image for Death of the Land

Death of the Land

The first TV drama written by a Māori, inspired by Te...

Thumbnail image for Tangata Whenua - Waikato

Tangata Whenua - Waikato

Documentary touching on land rights issues

Thumbnail image for Centrepoint: A Spiritual Growth Community

Centrepoint: A Spiritual Growth Community

Also directed by Geoff Steven

Thumbnail image for Children of the Revolution

Children of the Revolution

More interviews with 70s protesters

Thumbnail image for The Making of The Governor

The Making of The Governor

The land march features in this making of film

Thumbnail image for Hone Tuwhare

Hone Tuwhare

Documentary on Hone Tuwhare, whose poems plays over the...

Thumbnail image for The Bridge

The Bridge

This documentary also features the Māori land march

Thumbnail image for Marae - 2008 Māori Election Special

Marae - 2008 Māori Election Special

Long-running Māori current affairs show

Thumbnail image for Haka - A Musical and a History

Haka - A Musical and a History

A documentary on haka made by Geoff Steven

Thumbnail image for Hokonui Todd

Hokonui Todd

Documentary on an advocate for African indigenous justice

Thumbnail image for Illustrious Energy

Illustrious Energy

Also shot by Leon Narbey

Thumbnail image for Ngā Tohu: Signatures

Ngā Tohu: Signatures

Award-winning TV drama about land rights

Thumbnail image for Two Rivers Meet / Te Tutakinga O Nga Awa E Rua

Two Rivers Meet / Te Tutakinga O Nga Awa E Rua

Documentary on Māori poetry

Thumbnail image for Strata

Strata

A film directed by Geoff Stevens

Thumbnail image for Ngā Tamatoa: 40 Years On

Ngā Tamatoa: 40 Years On

Features 1970s protest group Ngā Tamatoa

Thumbnail image for 50 Years of New Zealand Television: 2 - The Whole World's Watching

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 2 - The Whole World's Watching

The land march is in this documentary about protest

Thumbnail image for Koha - Mauri

Koha - Mauri

Protester Eva Rickard acted in this

Thumbnail image for Te Ao Kapurangi (Warrior Woman)

Te Ao Kapurangi (Warrior Woman)

Land rights protester Tama Poata directed this short

Thumbnail image for Loading Docs 2019 - Mana Wahine

Loading Docs 2019 - Mana Wahine

Short documentary about a protest leader at Ihumātao

Thumbnail image for Radicals

Radicals

Documentary on Māori protest

Thumbnail image for Tagata Tangata 4 - Tangata Whenua / People of the Land (Episode Four)

Tagata Tangata 4 - Tangata Whenua / People of the Land (Episode Four)

More on land rights in NZ and across Polynesia