LIKEMINDS 16 New Zealand Film Commission – He Aurei herenga tāngata

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    LIKEMINDS, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Noel Blackwell, Damian Alexander, Nicki Chapman, Anne Macindoe, Natasha Peter, Ilai Amar, Amy Tasker, Amy Galvin, Heleana McNaught, Eraia Kiel, Stacy Gordine
  • Client
    New Zealand Film Commission

A unique offer of partnership from Aotearoa New Zealand.

When tasked with helping the New Zealand Film Commission create a gift for some of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers and executives to consider New Zealand for their next production, the challenge was clear - we had to engage these storytellers with a totally captivating and unique story.

From there the job really directed itself along with the incredible expertise of our friends and co-creative directors from The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), Tumu Whakarae (General Manager) Eraia Kiel and Tohunga Whakairo (Master Carver) Stacy Gordine.

We worked to a simple idea - present a true offer of partnership from Aotearoa, in a way that no other film nation could. An offer from deep within our culture, that promotes uniqueness of place and the warmth of our people. The thought of carving 15 bespoke Pounamu Aurei materialised from the various wānanga we had - a special gift for 15 special film leaders, and a way to perpetuate a significant object from Māori culture and activate its mauri out in the world in this kaupapa.

In Māori tradition, the aurei is used to fasten a cloak securely together and here it speaks to the strong bonds the partnership will create in bringing the different sides together.

“The rei or whale tooth represents things like leadership and journeys over water. Wearing an Aurei is like being wrapped up in the love of your supporting people” explains Stacy.

They speak to the establishment of a special connection that comes from making your stories here with us. A promise of care, to know that our people and country will embrace you. These unadorned Aurei were gifted alongside a letter offering further embellishment once they had journeyed here and worked with us.

“It is an invitation to bring this stone back to its home as part of a movie or a project; we could then take their experiences and carve some surface work that reflects their individual journey. It becomes a vehicle through time - a link to the past, to the present and on into the future. So to be part of that story, it's humbling for us as carvers of these objects. They become taonga that have the essence of Pounamu, the essence of the maker and over time will take on the essence of the wearer” says Stacy.

This was important to us for two reasons: it respected the Mana of the individual by acknowledging that gifting is the very start of the journey and it ensures that no two Aurei will ever be alike, creating ongoing carving opportunities at NZMACI to further develop these beautiful pieces in conversation in the future.

This project created many special connections for The New Zealand Film Commission and ongoing opportunities for the wider film industry. A true taonga that places Māori culture at the heart of how we can do business offshore and shares the beauty of how we see the world from Aotearoa.