Merimeri Penfold: Short Trailer for “He Wawata Whaea: The dream of an Elder”

A video trailer for a documentary by Director Horrocks who pays tribute to Merimeri Penfold, our remarkable whaea who defends the language and culture of New Zealand’s indigenous people. A champion of Te Reo (the Maori language), a leader in her community and nationally, a composer of songs and poems, she was the first teacher of spoken Maori.

Known as a generous, creative influence in many areas of the arts like weaving, creating haka and waiata (songs) and writing fiction, she even translated Shakespeare’s love sonnets into Maori. Witi Ihimaera remarks: “Shakespeare has always been one of those colonising tropes brought here to New Zealand along with the Bible. But through Merimeri’s translations I began to see that we can put the moko [tattoo] of the Maori on to Shakespeare!”

The life of this lively, engaging woman provides a rich perspective on the history of the Maori people in New Zealand over the last century. As she re-visits communities where she lived and worked, Merimeri discusses her dreams for the future of Maori language and culture.