For a young Maori girl it’s the first day at school, first day without the security of her parents. Raised with Maori culture as her basis she is about to enter a foreign environment with little or understanding of their culture nor they of hers. The anxiety of surviving or being accepted in this foreign world is so high that she suffers withdrawal. For someone so young she is aware of adult things such as poverty and stress. She understands her family’s lack of material wealth and the economic limitations they live within. Her father is a hard working man who provides as best as he can for his family but money is always tight. Employed as a railway worker he and his family live in a railway cottage in a railway community. He has been raised in the old ways of Maori culture and raises his children accordingly. This family is not wealthy but they have something more valuable than money, they have love for each other and a love for their culture and its stories.
Every culture has its stories and its heroes. In recent years Maori culture has also had its share of anti-heroes on the big screen and none more so than Jake the mus in Once Were Warriors. Whilst this film reflected the very real pressures on Maori families who have lost their cultural connections, the alcoholism, violence and child abuse it is not the experience of all families.
The portrayal of a strong Maori father in the media is a rarity. Hawaikii is based on a true story and for many Maori and non-Maori this portrayal of a proud father who cherishes his wife and children will resonate.