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Tupaia story important to region’s history

In the News - 29th July 2017 The Gisborne Herald
dt.common.streams.StreamServer Caption: TUPAIA’S STORY: Artist Michel Tuffery (left) and historian Paul Tapsell (fourth right) look on as actor Kirk Torrance endures the application by air-brush of a tatau for his role as Tahitian navigator Tupaia in Lala Rolls’ documentary Tupaia’s Endeavour. Picture supplied

The extraordinary story of Ra’iatean high priest navigator Tupaia, who sailed from Tahiti with James Cook and the Endeavour on a voyage of discovery, will start screening on Māori Television tomorrow afternoon.

Tupaia’s Endeavour by Wellington film maker Lala Rolls tells the story of the man regarded as key to Cook’s survival in his encounters with Polynesians of Tahiti and Aotearoa.

Rolls’ original intention was to create a feature-length documentary for Māori Television. The depth of subject matter, interviews and discoveries expanded the film and delayed its television broadcast. In the interim, a special ‘Tairāwhiti cut’ was created with the support of Te Hā 1769 Sestercentennial Trust and premiered at Gisborne’s War Memorial Theatre in October 2016. Rolls then edited her original film back to three hour-long episodes.

Te Hā Trust chairman Richard Brooking says the Tupaia story is a significant part of the region’s history.

“Our kaupapa is to encourage dialogue about our dual history and shared future. Tupaia had a crucial role in building relationships with tangata whenua. History could have been quite different without his ability to communicate here in 1769. His important story adds to the richness of our dual heritage. We encourage everyone to watch it and learn about our history.”

The documentary features numerous interviews with Gisborne people including Te Hā trustee Anne McGuire, Wayne Ngata and Victor Walker, all of Uawa; Nick and Barney Tupara of Ngati Oneone; Jody Wyllie of Rongowhakaata; navigator Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp; and Dame Anne Salmond. Many more took part in re-enactments of ritual challenges and deaths. Nick Tupara re-enacts the part of Te Maro, the Ngati Oneone man shot on the beach on the morning of 8 October 1769. Actor Kirk Torrance plays the part of Tupaia.

The film team visited Tahiti, Gisborne, Uawa-Tolaga Bay, Wellington and London’s British Museum and British Library alongside artist Michel Tuffery’s personal voyage of discovery.

Mr Brooking said the trust acknowledged Lala Rolls’ generosity in enabling Te Hā access to her film as a not-for-profit educational resource.

“She has also been particularly generous with her time and resources in working alongside Peter and Ellen Jarratts’ Create and Educate to create a digital resource for this region.”  

The ‘Tairāwhiti cut’ documentary is expected to be shown at district schools, marae and other community locations during Te Hā commemorations this coming October.

The documentary screens at 3pm on Māori Television and will become available on its OnDemand service.

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