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Te Rua

Te Rua (Barry Barclay, 1991) wr. Barry Barclay, prod. John O'Shea, dp Rory O'Shea, Warrick Attewell; Wi Kuki Kaa, Nissie Herewini, Tilly Reedy; NZ, colour, PG, 105 min.

Te Rua is a NZ/German copro about some sacred Maori carvings which have been sequestered in Germany. It is not very well integrated, and the acting, especially that of the Germans (speaking English to each other) is not good. It was a long struggle to remember the other film on a related theme, also about carvings being returned to the marae: The Man Who Lost His Head (Terry Johnson, 2007). But the later film is a romcom (English, tho mostly shot in NZ) with Martin Clunes, while the earlier is a drama.

The idea of “housing” the carvings is vital to the film. “Te Rua” means “the storehouse” and is the location for the carvings in the Uritoto following their original theft. What Te Rua reveals is that such a location is as inappropriate for the works as the basement of the Berlin museum, and that—to be living, working elements of culture—the carvings require to be placed in a social context where they are understood. A similar idea of how images of Maori should be treated is undoubtedly behind Barclay’s argument in 'Housing Our Image Destiny' [Illusions, 7, Nov 1991: 39-42]. Ian Conrich & Stuart Murray eds 2007, New Zealand Filmmakers, Wayne State UP: 101.

Garry Gillard | New: 18 September, 2012 | Now: 30 June, 2020