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An Autumn Multi-Tweet & Two-Question Day

my garden 
It's harvest time. I'm also pruning fruit trees, sanding window frames, sewing clothes. And fulfilling some obligations. Overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I gave away my tickets to Alison Bechdel's events at Writers Week. (Knowing that she provides some wonderful online clips helped me make the decision.) Need to stay very quiet for a bit.

But today was special. Surprises. Too many awesome moments to tweet.

And when I wrote the day in tweet-size I found I had to add two questions that are not tweet-size.

1. EARLY. Woke from extraordinary dream. Ate a big breakfast in bed, read the paper and went back to sleep.

2. 10.30 Up, quick shower & to desk to start to assess stranger's script. Forgot what fun it can be. What Will Happen Next? followed me to

3. Happy Lunch With Beloved Family. They delight me. Filled with gratitude for their generosity. Then quick walk up Cuba Street to

4. Rendez-Vous with Visiting Beloved Director at Cuba Lighthouse. Rich heart-&-mind experience, with ticket in hand for Stories We Tell.

5. It too has all the brilliance, warmth & courage I could hope for. I love the space & the respect Sarah Polley gives to the participants & to the narrative.

6. Home via Moore Wilson's (turbot) and Commonsense Organics (brown rice). In Tory Street I see a kind-of-familiar couple.

7. Alison Bechdel's head-down. Her gorgeous girl friend & I exchange warm smiles & little waves. Lose last regret that I gave away my tix. #ttrtpt

8. As I walk past the monastery, the sound of the sea, the late sun and the rich smell of dak reinforce my feeling that it's a party day.

Lorde & Taylor Swift
9. After dinner, I read what Lorde says in answer to questions about her relationship with Taylor Swift. Feel much love & respect for her, another stranger.

10. Think about the other woman writer for whom I feel similar love and respect: Patricia Grace.

11. See that the New Zealand Film Commission has announced a new initiative–
He Ara (Māori and Pasifika film pathways).

He Ara is aimed at assisting established New Zealand writers, producers and directors of Māori and/or Pasifika heritage to express authentic Māori and Pasifika film perspectives in creating distinctive feature film drama or documentary projects, shaped through their chosen development framework.
And the combination of a beautiful, satisfying day and these experiences encourages me to ask these questions.

Q1. How did Patricia Grace's major essay Inherited responsibilities; On matters of national significance – He kōrero end up in the second, free online, eBook-only volume of the literary journal Pacific Highways 43?

According to the online blurb, Pacific Highways 43
...explores New Zealand's position as a hub between the Pacific, Tasman and Southern oceans, and examines the exchange of people and culture, points of resistance and overlap.
It's therefore ironic that of the twenty-one essays published in the more prestigious print version only one's by a Māori writer. Another of the twenty-one, by a pakeha writer, Ian Wedde, is about Ralph Hotere's tangi.

This says to me that the editors are more interested to explore the exchange of people and culture as demonstrated in a pakeha writer's essay about the funeral of a Māori artist to whom he was close, in some ways 'family', than they are to explore the exchange of people and culture as demonstrated by an internationally celebrated Māori writer's essay about matters of national significance, as they affect her family.

I believe that Ian Wedde and other writers represented in the print volume of Pacific Highways may be deeply embarrassed by this 'point of resistance' to such a distinguished indigenous voice (and perhaps embarrassed to observe that other distinguished indigenous voices are missing from both print and online volumes). I believe that the writers may even be collectively mortified by this serious editorial blunder, this lack of respect towards New Zealand's only-ever winner of the prestigious Neustadt Prize, a woman whose every public word – spoken or written – is a taonga, for all of us.

And I believe that many of the writers – including Ian Wedde – would gladly have relinquished their spaces in the print volume to ensure that Patricia Grace's essay took its rightful place, as its last words.

It's possible of course that Patricia asked that her essay be printed in eBook form to make it more accessible. But the online extract from Ian Wedde's essay is followed by 'A full text version of this article will become available during the life of this edition', so it would certainly have been possible to place Inherited responsibilities; On matters of national significance – He kōrero online at a later date, too. It's also possible that Patricia Grace's essay arrived a little late.  I don't know. But if it was a little late, why not wait for it? It would have been worth it. It would have been the right thing to do. Readers – and the other writers – would have understood.

Q2. The New Zealand Film Commission has just announced a new initiative, He Ara – Māori and Pasifika film pathways–
He Ara is aimed at assisting established New Zealand writers, producers and directors of Māori and/or Pasifika heritage to express authentic Māori and Pasifika film perspectives in creating distinctive feature film drama or documentary projects, shaped through their chosen development framework.
Will this help Māori and Pasifika women make their features? The last New Zealand Film Commission-funded feature that a Māori woman wrote and directed was Merata Mita's Mauri in 1988.

I started to keep records in 2003. The only indie feature a Māori woman has written and directed since is Marama Killen's self-funded Kaikahu Road (2011). I don't think it ever reached theatres. In contrast, six Māori men have between them written and directed eight theatrical features, with Film Commission support for all but Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's What We Do In The Shadows. (There may be more.) Another Māori man has directed four television movies and one feature. In that time, Briar Grace-Smith has written two theatrical features and one telemovie. Riwia Brown has written a telemovie and Katie Wolfe has directed one. Add up the Film Commission investment in features by Māori men and in features by Māori women and the imbalance would be huge.

In the same period, Sima Urale has directed one feature but no Pasifika woman has written and directed a feature as far as I know. One Pasifika man has written and directed two theatrical features, directed one more and co-directed another. Another has written and directed a theatrical feature. Another has co-written two.

There are now many Māori and Pasifika women who have made successful short films. I bet they're ready to write and direct features. Fingers crossed that they will benefit from He Ara, equally with men. 


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