This Thursday, 3 March, Māoriland, the home of the largest Indigenous Film Festival in the Southern Hemisphere will launch a Boosted crowdfunding campaign to produce the short film ‘He Karu, He Taringa’ written and directed by 23 year old rangatahi filmmaker Tahuaroa Ohia (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi).
‘He Karu, He Taringa’ is inspired by Tahuaroa’s own journey through life with autism. In Tahuaroa’s own words, “People need to start treating takiwātanga as a gift, not a disease.”
Over the next 30 days, Tahuaroa aims to raise $7,500 to pay for cast, crew and film equipment; as well as funding for a film screening/speaker tour around Aotearoa to spread awareness about takiwātanga (autism).
‘He Karu, He Taringa’ meaning ‘Eyes and Ears’, refers to the unique way that children with autism hear and see the world. This film follows the story of Ben, a young boy with autism, and his mother who struggles to navigate the health and education system to find support for Ben.
“This story is important because it is an experience that me and my whānau have been through. It took 6 months of me and my mother being shoved away by doctors and other health professionals before we finally found out my diagnosis,” said Tahuaroa.
With this film, Tahuaroa aims to educate Māori, other Indigenous whānau, as well as other families out there who need help understanding what autism is. For those who have tamariki with autism, he wants to provide parents information and handy tools to help them on their children’s journey through takiwātanga.
Tahuaroa is a graduate of Māoriland’s M.A.T.C.H Animation Intensifier Programme at the Māoriland Hub in Ōtaki. Following the six-week course, he now works at Māoriland as a rangatahi filmmaker.
“The doctor told my mother I wouldn’t accomplish any of the goals I had, and they were wrong. I’ve accomplished my goals so far and now I’m living an independent life as a creative artist” said Tahuaroa.
Tahuaroa is already gaining significant support, reaching $3,077 in Seed Donations prior to launch. It is a testament to the power of his story and the community who has supported him in his life so far.
“Here at Māoriland, we believe in giving rangatahi the tools and then getting out of the way. Their voices and stories can change our world. With Boosted, we’re able to rally whānau, friends – but also the wider community to support the creative aspirations of our rangatahi” said Māoriland Kaiwhakahau Hōtaka, Madeleine Hakaraia de Young. Boosted is New Zealand’s only crowdfunding platform dedicated to getting homegrown art off the ground.
‘He Karu, He Taringa’ is currently in pre-production, with filming taking place in April 2022. Tahuaroa aspires to premiere his film at Māoriland Film Festival in June/July 2022.