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A Tatau Korero – Our Stories

The stories of 20 Tairawhiti people were celebrated last night by interviewees, their whanau and supporters of the A Tatau Korero film series.

Their korero, captured by producer/directors David Jones and Lewis Whaitiri with the Gisborne Herald video production team, showcases the “rich tapestry of history, connections and values that make up the community” 250 years after the first encounters between Maori and Europeans.

A Tatau Korero (Our Stories) is a collaboration between Te Ha Trust (via its Tuia 250 ki Turanga programme) and The Gisborne Herald. It involves three-minute-long interviews of Tairawhiti people that have been woven together to “give insight into the many facets of the community, some issues facing the community, relationships, projects and overall a sense of identity against the national backdrop”.

The project’s focus was on finding out who the people in Te Tairawhiti are 250 years on from the arrival of Lieutenant James Cook and his crew on the Endeavour, and what are the things that make up the community — including insights, reflections, views and opinions.

“From Te Kaha in the north, to Te Wairoa in the south, Te Tairawhiti is full of people doing interesting and exceptional things in their respective areas,” Mr Jones said.

Each interview was applauded by the audience of about 170 people at Lawson Field Theatre, with some stories receiving cheers of support, some prompting tears and others creating fits of laughter.

“Stories provide a lens by which we can see a perspective and a world,” Mr Jones said.

“We all live in this community but the viewpoints and perspectives are all different and this is reflected in the different spaces, groups and interactions we have with each other.

“This project provides the opportunity to explore the different worlds we are a part of here in Te Tairawhiti.”

The producers, along with The Gisborne Herald video production team of Ben Cowper and Jon Rush, knew there were many more stories, people and groups doing amazing things in the community.

“We consider this the tip of the iceberg in terms of our stories. There are plenty more unsung heroes that we weren’t able to include due to the number of interviews we could conduct,” Mr Jones said.

“The key to this is the diverse range of stories and viewpoints. We looked to interview people from various backgrounds (ethnic and professional), age, gender and geography.”

Mr Rush said, “telling the stories of Tairawhiti people in a positive way on a challenging topic” made it a “super special project” to work on.

“Whether it is in the arts, visual story telling, sports or farming, everyone has a story and these stories only enrich an understanding of who our community is and the uniqueness of what makes Te Tairawhiti great,” Mr Jones said.

The project was co-funded by New Zealand on Air and Eastland Community Trust, with further support from Te Ha Trust and The Gisborne Herald.

The interviews will be made available to the public over the next four weeks, with five interviews released each Monday (starting September 16) on the New Zealand Herald and The Gisborne Herald websites, and on various social media platforms.

TAKING FLIGHT: A Tatau Korero (Our Stories), a film series featuring interviews with 20 Tairawhiti people, unveiling some of the history, connections and values that make up the community, was launched last night at the Lawson Field Theatre. The project was co-funded by New Zealand on Air and Eastland Community Trust, with further support from Te Haa Trust and The Gisborne Herald. Pictured are producers and documentary directors, Lewis Whaitiri and David Jones, two of the 20 interviewees Jill Chrisp and Pene Walsh, and Gisborne Herald cameraman Ben Cowper. Absent is Gisborne Herald film editor Jon Rush. Picture by Paul Rickard