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Tupaia film ‘a sort of rolling wananga’

Uawa’s Hauiti Marae will this Sunday host the first screening of Lala Rolls’ feature film Tupaia’s Endeavour.

Tahitian ancestor Tupaia was a land, ocean and star navigator, a high priest, an artist and a key communicator between the crew of the Endeavour ship and Uawa locals during the ship’s visit to Opoutama (Cook’s Cove) in 1769.

Film producer and director Lala Rolls is bringing the film to the place where the relationship between Tupaia and the people of Uawa began, for a private, invitation-only screening at 4pm.

The screening will be attended by many film participants, including Tahitian waka voyagers, Michel Tuffery, Dame Anne Salmond, Te Ha trustee Anne McGuire, Wayne Ngata and local residents.

The film is a Pacific first-contact story, told from a Pacific point of view.

Ms Rolls said it was more than just a film.

“It is an oral history collection and a sort of rolling wananga.

“We have travelled and shared stories, explored history with our participants and shared rough cuts between 2011 and now. We can really proudly say that these conversations have sparked a lot of the change we see unfolding with Tuia 250 today.”

She wanted to emphasise that this first participant screening was to share their discoveries with the participant knowledge holders and the waka voyagers.

“We are thrilled if people want to talk about the film; but we ask that they keep some of the newer surprises quiet just a little longer.”

The film will be launched to the public next year.

Marae helper Wayne Ngata said Sunday would be about “balancing the stories that are told about this ship called Endeavour and the Maori story”.

It was also about Tupaia’s story “which has not been highlighted that much in history”.

“Yet from our point of view he was a key part of that voyage in terms of them finding their way here and him becoming the intermediary — certainly in Uawa here.

“But it didn’t happen in Turanga, they didn’t use him, and we pay for that dearly.

“He spent time with our people and he conversed with knowledgeable people.”

Asked about Tahitian and Maori languages, Mr Ngata said they were of the same family, “that’s a linguistic fact”.

“The languages are very similar, we have similar whakapapa. We come from the same stock.”