Transcript: Witi Ihimaera | Feb 07, 1989

(violin music plays)

In animation, a marble entrance with two columns floating on misty mountains opens up to reveal a small bookshelf. Book covers from the collection flash by, including Cat’s eye by Margaret Atwood and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
The title of the show appears as a book cover with a picture of the marble entrance: “Authors at Harbourfront.”

The Narrator says THE FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS AT
TORONTO'S HARBOURFRONT IS ONE
OF THE WORLD'S FOREMOST
LITERARY EVENTS.
NOW ENTERING ITS TENTH YEAR,
THE FESTIVAL ANNUALLY ATTRACTS
50 OF THE WORLD'S BEST AUTHORS
TO THE STAGE, TO READ FROM
THEIR WORKS AND PARTICIPATE
IN INTERVIEWS AND DISCUSSIONS
WITH THEIR PEERS.

The screen turns as if it were a book page and a male narrator speaks as clips of different authors speaking at Harbourfront flash by.

The Narrator continues WITI IHIMAERA IS
DEVOTED TO THE CONCERNS
OF HIS PEOPLE,
THE MAORIS.
HE IS A JOURNALIST,
SHORT-STORY WRITER, EDITOR,
AND OPERA LIBRETTIST.
HE CURRENTLY SERVES IN
THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE
AS A COUNSELLOR OF THE NEW
ZEALAND EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON.
IN 1986, IHIMAERA WON THE
WATTIE BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD
FOR “THE MATRIARCH,”
DETAILING FOUR GENERATIONS
OF IHIMAERA FAMILY.
IN 1987, HE RELEASED
“THE WHALE RIDER.”

The author’s two books appear one next to the other. A caption reads “Witi Ihimaera. New Zealand.” On the top left corner of the screen, a paused clip featuring Witi zooms out.

Witi Ihimaera sits on a chair. He’s in his forties, clean-shaven with black hair. He’s wearing a white shirt.

Witi says AND I AM MAORI AND
THEN THERE IS THE REST.
BECAUSE OF THAT, I HAVE
ALWAYS FELT A MINORITY.
THE MAORI PEOPLE IN NEW
ZEALAND ARE 300,000.
THE WORLD IS MILLIONS
AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE,
BUT WE FEEL THAT WE HAVE
AS MUCH RIGHT TO ESTABLISH
OUR SENSE OF CULTURE AND
THAT IT IS A DISTINGUISHED
AND AS IMPORTANT AS
THAT OF GREEK CULTURE,
OF FRENCH CULTURE, OF
ENGLISH AND GERMAN CULTURE,
AS WELL, AND THAT
IS FROM WHERE I COME.
[speaking Maori language]

A male host says PLEASE WELCOME FROM NEW
ZEALAND, WITI IHIMAERA.
[applause]

Witi comes to the stage. He sings in Maori language and dances moving his arms and stomping his feet. When he finishes, he speaks in Maori language.

Witi says I EXTEND THE GREETINGS OF
THE MAORI PEOPLE OF
NEW ZEALAND TO THIS
HALL AND TO THE TANTUA
AND INUA OF THIS LAND.
TO THE MANY DISTINGUISHED
GUESTS AND WRITERS
PAST AND PRESENT AND TO
ALL OF OUR ANCESTORS.
I ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THE
NEW ZEALAND WRITERS
WHO HAVE STOOD HERE
BEFORE ME, KERI HULME,
KARL STEAD, JANET FRAME,
ANNE WITTE, AMONG MANY.
AND THE LITERARY
FRATERNITY OF WHICH
I AM PRIVILEGED
TO BELONG.
IN THE MIDDLE OF LAST
CENTURY IN NEW ZEALAND,
THE MAORI PEOPLE WERE AT WAR
WITH THE EUROPEAN SETTLERS,
OR THE PAKEHA
AS THEY ARE KNOWN.
AS A RESULT OF THAT WAR,
MUCH MAORI LAND
WAS CONFISCATED AND A
PROCESS OF EUROPEANIZATION
OF THE MAORI POPULATION
BEGAN TO TAKE PLACE.
MANY OF THE MAORI
PEOPLE ACCEPTED THIS,
BUT SOME DID NOT.
AMONG THOSE WHO DID
NOT WERE THE RINGATU,
A WARRIOR PEOPLE, WHO SAW A
PARALLEL BETWEEN WHAT
WAS HAPPENING TO THEM AND
THE OLD TESTAMENT STORY
OF THE ISRAELITES AND SLAVERY
UNTO PHARAOH AND IN EGYPT.
THE RINGATU SAW THEMSELVES
AS BEING IN BONDAGE
TO THE PAKEHA, AND EACH
GENERATION TAUGHT THE NEXT
NEVER TO FORGET THEIR
RESPONSIBILITY
TO FIGHT PHARAOH AND
FREE THE PEOPLE.
THIS IS WHAT “THE
MATRIARCH” IS ABOUT.
IS IT ABOUT A
RINGATU PRIESTESS,
A CHARISMATIC LEADER, WHO
THROUGHOUT MOST OF
THE BOOK IS TRAINING HER
GRANDSON TO TAKE OVER
FROM HER IN THESE MODERN TIMES,
AND TO CONTINUE THAT FIGHT.
HER GRANDSON'S NAME IS
TAMATEA AND THE MATRIARCH
TEACHES TAMATEA BY
SHOWING HIM JUST WHAT
HAS HAPPENED, THE
ALIENATION THAT OCCURS
WHEN ALL MINORITIES
LOSE THEIR SOVEREIGNTY.
HER TEACHING IS SOMETIMES
HARSH, SOMETIMES PLAYFUL,
SOMETIMES UNFAIR, OFTEN BY
EXAMPLE AND BY PARABLE,
BUT IT IS ALWAYS
PASSIONATE.
IT IS ALWAYS COMMITTED,
AND AT THE END OF IT,
IN A SCARED PLACE
HIGH IN THE MOUNTAINS,
ATTENDED BY THE GODS
AND BY THE ELEMENTS
COMES THE MATRIARCH'S
GREAT KARAKIA,
HER PRAYER AND HER
BENEDICTION UPON
HER GRANDSON TAMATEA.
HER MOKOPUNA, THE ONE
WHO MUST FIGHT ON.

(classical music plays)

Back in the interview, Witi says IN OUR CULTURE, THE MAORI
LANGUAGE IS A SACRED
LANGUAGE AND IT IS USED
IN A SACRED MANNER.
ENGLISH IS A PROFANE
LANGUAGE FOR US,
AND SO WE ARE ABLE
TO USE IT IN A WAY
THAT IS NON-TRADITIONAL
AND NON-SACRED,
WHICH AGAIN IS A REALLY
GOOD EXCUSE FOR ME
TO WRITE IN ENGLISH.
[chuckling]

A close-up shot features a woman laughing in the audience.

Witi continues I JOINED THE
DIPLOMATIC SERVICE,
NOT TO BE LIKE EVERYBODY
ELSE, BUT TO BE DIFFERENT.
I FELT THAT THE REASON WHY
I WAS THERE WAS BECAUSE
I WAS MAORI AND THAT
IF I DID NOT PRESENT
A MAORI VIEWPOINT IN
THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE,
THEN I MAY AS WELL BE A
EUROPEAN, WHICH I'M NOT.

On the stage, Witi reads AND SO I BEGIN YOUR
JOURNEY, GRANDSON,
AT THE TIME OF
YOUR AWAKENING,
BY PUSHING YOU OUT
INTO THE UNIVERSE.
THIS THE PEOPLE
DID IN HAWAIKI,
OUR ANCESTRAL HOME,
WHEN THE WAKA TAUA,
CANOE, VOYAGED
TO THIS LAND?
AND THIS, THE
MOTHER OF MOSES DID,
WHEN SHE PLACED HER SCARED
SON INTO A TINY WOVEN VESSEL
AND CONSIGNED HIM
TO THE NILE SO THAT
HE COULD ESCAPE THE
FURY OF PHARAOH.
AND THE CHILD WAS GUIDED
TO THE DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH
AND LIVED IN
PHARAOH'S PALACE,
AND FROM THERE HE GREW
INTO MANHOOD UNTIL
THE TIME CAME WHEN HE
SAID UNTO PHARAOH,
E HOA, LET MY PEOPLE GO.
AND IN OUR OWN COUNTRY,
THESE WERE THE WORDS
SAID BY YOUR
ANCESTORS ALSO.
BY TE KOOTI, THE REBEL
LEADER, AND BY WI PERE,
WHO TRIED IN THE
PARLIAMENT OF THE PAKEHA.
AND THESE WERE THE WORDS
WHICH HAVE COME DOWN TO ME,
AND WHICH I NOW PASS
ON TO YOU, MY GRANDSON.
MY GRANDSON, THESE
INSTRUCTIONS WHICH
I NOW GIVE YOU ARE LIKE
THE SACRED KUMARA,
THE SWEET POTATO, WHICH
YOUR ANCESTOR POURANGAHUA
CARRIED FROM HAWAIKI
TO THIS COUNTRY.
YOUR ANCESTOR HAD TO DO
THIS BECAUSE THE PRECIOUS
SEED HAD BEEN DISCHARGED
OVERBOARD WHEN THE HOROUTA
CANOE WAS WRECKED AT THE
MOUTH OF THE OHIWA RIVER.
MANY KETE OF THE SEED
KUMARA WERE THROWN OVERBOARD
AND IT WAS BECAUSE OF
THIS THAT POURANGAHUA
RETURNED TO HAWAIKI.
THERE HE LANDED
AT PARINUITERA,
WHERE HE WENT TO
SEE HIS UNCLE.
UNCLE, HE SAID, I
HAVE COME TO TAKE
THE SWEET POTATO TO MY
LAND TO THE SOUTH.
SO HIS UNCLE PROVIDED
POURANGAHUA WITH THE KUMARA.
THEN POURANGAHUA
SAID AGAIN, UNCLE,
NOW THAT I HAVE
THE KUMARA,
I MUST RETURN QUICKLY
TO AOTEAROA FOR,
WHEN I LEFT THERE, THE
KOWHAI TREES WERE ALREADY
BEGINNING TO BUD, AND THE
PLANTING SEASON IS NEAR.
SO IT WAS THAT RUAKAPANGA
ALLOWED HIS NEPHEW
TO RETURN TO AOTEAROA, ACROSS
THE GREAT SEA OF KIWA,
ON THE BACKS OF HIS
TWO PET GIANT BIRDS.
THEIR NAMES WERE HORA
NGARANGI AND TEU NGARANGI,
AND RUAKAPANAGA
LOVED THEM VERY MUCH.
AND RUAKAPANGA TOLD POURANGAHUA
THAT HE COULD FLY BACK
ON THE BIRDS, BUT
ONLY ON CONDITION THAT
THEY WERE NOT FLOWN
ANYWHERE NEAR
MOUNT HIKURANGI,
BECAUSE A TANIWHA,
A MONSTER DWELT THERE.
HE WAS NOT TO TOUCH OR
PULL THEIR FEATHERS,
AND THEY WERE TO BE FED
AND GIVEN WATER BEFORE
HE SENT THEM
BACK TO HAWAIKI.
POURANGAHUA AGREED AND, ASTRIDE
THE TWO BIRDS, HE SET OFF.
AND IN ONE HAND HE HELD
THE KUMARA SEEDS
AND TWO BASKETS NAMED
HOUTAKERENUKU AND
HOUTAKERERANGI, AND IN THE
OTHER HAND HE HELD
TWO DIGGING STICKS NAMED
MAMAERANGI AND MAMAENUKU.
AUE, HE FORGOT HIS
PROMISES TO HIS UNCLE
AND FLEW RIGHT
OVER HIKURANGI.
THE TANIWHA ATTACKED THE
GIANT BIRDS AND THERE
WAS A GREAT BATTLE
FROM WHICH THE BIRDS
SUFFERED A GREAT DEAL.
THEN, POURANGAHUA, AS
HE WAS APPROACHING HIS
HOMELAND, HE MADE THE TWO
BIRDS CIRCLE AND CIRCLE
AND THEN HE PLUCKED
OUT THEIR FEATHERS
TO HASTEN THEIR DESCENT.
ONE OF THE FEATHERS
FLOATED DOWN INTO THE SEA
AND SANK ONTO A REEF
BECOMING A MAKAURI TREE
WHICH GREW AND BLOOMED
UNDER THE OCEAN.
NATURALLY THE PEOPLE
REJOICED AT POURANGAHUA'S
RETURN AND THEY CELEBRATED
THE BRINGING OF KUMARA SEED,
AND MADE READY
TO PLANT THE SEED.
BUT FOR THE TWO
GIANT BIRDS,
THERE WERE NO REJOICING
CELEBRATIONS.
POURANGAHUA FORGOT TO FEED
THEM AND GIVE THEM WATER,
SO THAT IN THE MORNING,
THEY WEPT WITH ONE ANOTHER.
THEY WERE TIRED FROM THE
JANUARY FROM THE BATTLE
WITH THE TANIWHA
AT HIRUANGI,
AND FROM THE LOSS
OF THEIR FEATHERS.

The audience listens carefully.

Witi continues THEY KNEW THAT THEY WOULD
NOT HAVE THE STRENGTH
TO RETURN TO THEIR MASTER IN
THEIR HOMELAND OF HAWAIKI.
AND IT IS SAID THAT THEIR
TEARS FORMED A PATTERN
WHICH WAS SO BEAUTIFUL
THAT IT BECAME USED IN ALL
THE TUKUTUKU WORK, ALL THE
WEAVINGS IN ALL THE NOBLE
MAORI HOUSES IN AOTEAROA.
AND THE NAME OF THE
PATTERN, ROIMATA TOROA,
OR THE TEARS OF
THE ALBATROSS,
COMMEMORATES THE
GRIEF OF THE BIRDS.
AND INDEED,
TIRED AND HUNGRY,
THEY FLEW TOO CLOSE
TO HIKURANGI AND
WERE DEVOURED
BY THE TANIWHA.
ARA, AND ALL THIS, AND
THE STORY OF THE EVENTUAL
PLANTING OF THE KUMARA IS
REMEMBERED IN THIS CHANT.
E MOKOPUNA, LISTEN
TO THIS CHANT,
AND LET IT BE THE FIRST OF
THE BLESSINGS AS YOU
GO FORTH ON THAT UNENDING
JOURNEY CALLED LIFE.
[singing Maori chant]
AH, YES, CLEAR INDEED
WAS THE MATRIARCH.
SHE EMBARKED ME UPON A
LUMINOUS VOYAGE AND
NOW SHE PREPARED TO LAUNCH
ME INTO THIS WORLD.

(violin music plays)

Back on the interview, Witi says THE ABILITY TO SPEAK IS AN
ABILITY WHICH WAS GIVEN
ALL OF US BY GOD, AND
THAT IS WHAT WE BELIEVE.
IT IS A SACRED LANGUAGE.
AND THE MAORI LANGUAGE
WAS GIVEN TO US BY GOD.
PERHAPS GOD GAVE OTHER
PEOPLE OTHER LANGUAGES,
BUT WE HAVE ALWAYS
REGARDED OUR LANGUAGE
AS BEING - WELL, WE HAVE
GIVEN A PARTICULAR
SACRED CONNOTATION.
AND THAT MEANS THAT WE
ONLY REALLY USE IT
IN VERY TRADITIONAL WAYS OR
IN GREETINGS LIKE THE ONE
THAT I HAVE JUST
GIVEN HERE TODAY.
IN MANY WAYS THE MAORI
PEOPLE FELT THAT THEY WERE
RATHER LIKE ISRAELITES
ENSLAVED INTO EGYPT
WHEN WE WERE COLONIZED
AND, AGAIN,
I THINK THAT'S GIVE US
ANOTHER LAYER...
IN TERMS OF THE MINORITY
FEELING THAT WE HAVE.
WE HAVE TAKEN A GREAT
DEAL OF REFERENCE FROM
THE BIBLE, ESPECIALLY
THE OLD TESTAMENT.
I BELIEVE THAT ANYBODY WHO
WRITES - WRITING IS A
POLITICAL ACT, WHETHER
OR NOT THE WRITING ITSELF
IS ON A POLITICAL
SUBJECT OR NOT.
IN NEW ZEALAND, I GUESS
THAT WE LOOK AT A PERSON'S
WHOLE ACHIEVEMENT, NOT
JUST THEIR ACHIEVEMENT
AS A WRITER; SO IF YOU GET
INVOLVED IN OTHER THINGS
IN NEW ZEALAND, THEN
THAT IS ALSO A PART
OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENT.
SO I DON'T CONSIDER
MYSELF, FOR INSTANCE,
TO BE A WRITER OR EVEN A
DIPLOMAT OR ALL OF THOSE
THINGS THAT YOU SAID.
I KEPT ON THINKING, OH, IS
HE TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE
OVER HERE SOMEWHERE.
IN MAORI, WE HAVE A
PHRASE WHICH SAYS,
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
THING IN THE WORLD,
AND THE ANSWER
IS, IT IS MAN.
IT IS MAN.
IT IS MAN, OR
IT IS WOMAN.
IT IS WOMAN.
IT IS WOMAN.
SO THE WHOLE ACHIEVEMENT
OF THE PERSON
IS IMPORTANT, BUT, YES,
I GUESS THAT AS A WRITER
AND AS A PERSON, MY
WHOLE DIRECTION,
JUST AS IT IS WITH YOU
TWO, IS A POLITICAL ONE.
AND MY
WRITING, I BELIEVE,
HAS GOT A POLITICAL
PURPOSE AND THAT IS TO
INTERPRET TO THE PAKEHA
IN POWER THE NEEDS
OF THE MAORI MINORITY
IN NEW ZEALAND.

Standing on the stage, Witi reads MY GRANDSON, YOU WILL
NEED ALL THE POWERS OF
THE INTELLECT, THE
SPIRIT, THE HEART,
AND THE MEMORY TO GUIDE
YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY,
AND YOU WILL NEED TO BE
AT ONE WITH YOUR WORLD,
FOR THIS IS A WORLD
MADE BY GODS AND MAN,
AND THERE ARE FORCES OF
BOTH WITH MAY AID YOU.
LEARN ABOUT THEM AND
UNDERSTAND THEM SO THAT
WHEN YOUR SAILS UNFURL,
YOU WILL RIDE WITH THE WINDS
AND BE SUPPORTED BY
THE ELECTRIC CURRENTS
OF THE UNIVERSE.
LET NO BALEFUL FORCES
PREVENT YOU FROM REACHING
THE UNENDING DESTINATION
WHICH AWAITS US ALL.
E MOKOPUNA, I NOW CONSIGN
YOU ON THE LONGEST JOURNEY
FOR WHAT USE IS THE SACRED
KUMARA IF THE LAND IS GONE
AND THERE IS NO
SOIL TO PLANT IT IN?
GO INTO THE WORLD
OF THE WHITE MAN.
SAY TO HIM, AS MOSES
DID, LET MY PEOPLE GO.
SAY TO HIM, AGAIN, TAKE
NO MORE OF OUR LAND
AND LET US GO INTO OUR
OWN LAND OF CANAAN.
SHE WAS STANDING AT THE
PILLARS OF THE SKY.
HER FACE WAS LUMINOUS
WITH GRIEF AND ANGER.
SHE CONJURED UP CREATURES
OF LIGHT AND CREATURES
OF DARKNESS TO
ATTEND HER WORDS.
A MAELSTROM OF
LIGHT AND DARK.
THEN SWIFTLY SHE
TURNED UPON ME.
THIS IS YOUR LAND, SHE
SAID, AND YOUR TASK.
YOU HAVE HEARD THE
GROANS OF THE MAORI.
GO NOW.
I WAS ONLY FIVE
YEARS OLD.
THE YEAR WAS 1949.
PASS INTO LIFE,
GRANDSON.
AND THAT YEAR, I BEGAN
TO BATTLE THE WHITE MAN.
[applause]

Sitting, Witi says WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME
POSITION IF WE TALK ABOUT
BOMB THROWING AND
STONE THROWING.
I GUESS WHAT WE ARE TRYING
TO DO IS TO NEGOTIATE
AT A VERY, VERY
ACADEMIC AND VERY,
VERY POLITICAL LEVEL
CALMLY AND WE'RE
ABLE TO TALK TO
ONE ANOTHER.
THAT'S ONE OF THE GOOD THINGS
ABOUT LIVING IN NEW ZEALAND,
THAT WE DO HAVE A
MAJORITY WHICH BELIEVES
IN A DIFFERENT SORT OF
FUTURE FOR NEW ZEALAND.
I'M NOT TOO SURE IF THAT'S
THE SAME FOR YOUR COUNTRY.
I THINK IT IS PROBABLY
OKAY FOR CANADA.
WE'RE TRYING, NOT TO
ESTABLISH A BI-CULTURAL
SOCIETY, BUT ONE THAT
MIRRORS BOTH MAORI
AND PAKEHA CONCERNS, A
KIND OF COUNTRY THAT WILL
ENCOURAGE THE GROWTH OF
TWO TYPES OF SOVEREIGNTY
IN THE ONE NEW ZEALAND.
THE GOOD THING ABOUT BEING
MAORI IN THIS AGE IS THAT
WE HAVE NOW GONE FROM
BEING A NOBLE SAVAGE
INTO BEING AN EDUCATED
SAVAGE, AND IN OUR COUNTRY,
EDUCATION, I THINK,
WILL BE THE SALVATION
OF THE MAORI PEOPLE.
WE HAVE NOW EDUCATED
OURSELVES TO THE POSITION
THAT WE CAN NOW START
USING THOSE KEYS WHICH
OTHER PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS
HAD TO BEGIN TO CHANGE
LEGISLATION AND TO
ESTABLISH A GREATER SENSE
OF MAORI IDENTITY WITHIN
THE SUPERSTRUCTURE
OF NEW ZEALAND.
THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE IN
NEW ZEALAND WHO KNOW
HOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH
AND FRENCH THAN
THERE ARE WHO KNOW
HOW TO SPEAK MAORI.
AND IN FACT ENGLISH
IS THE MAJOR LANGUAGE,
THE DOMINANT POWER
LANGUAGE OF THE PACIFIC.
THERE ARE NO PACIFIC
ISLAND COUNTRIES
THAT CAN CLAIM THAT THEIR
INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE
IS THE DOMINANT LANGUAGE.
WE HAVE ALL BE
COLONIZED IN THAT SENSE
BY THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH
AND GERMAN LANGUAGES.
SO I, IN FACT, WRITE
IN THE LANGUAGE
OF THE MAORI PEOPLE,
WHICH IS ENGLISH.
[laughter]
NEW ZEALAND IS A VERY,
VERY MILITANTLY FEMINIST
COUNTRY AND I THINK THAT
IF THERE WERE SOME
NEW ZEALAND FEMINISTS HERE,
WHAT THEY WOULD DO IS THAT
THEY WOULD THEN SAY, OKAY,
WE'RE GOING TO GO OFF
AND HAVE A DISCUSSION
LIKE THIS OURSELVES.
AND PERHAPS THAT'S
SOMETHING THAT SHOULD
HAPPEN AT THIS
CONFERENCE.

On stage, Witi says I ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE
THE WRITING FRATERNITY
TO WHOM I AM
PRIVILEGED TO BELONG.
IN NEW ZEALAND THE MAJOR
FIGURE IN OUR LITERATURE
IS KATHERINE MANSFIELD AND
NEXT MONTH WE CELEBRATE
HER BIRTH'S CENTENARY.
KATHERINE MANSFIELD
CREATED A NEW ZEALAND
HEROINE NAMED KEZIA, THE
PRODUCT OF AN ENGLISH
FAMILY BORN INTO
NEW ZEALAND,
AND EARLIER THIS YEAR I
ATTEMPTED TO CREATE
A CONTEMPORARY KEZIA,
ONE WHO HAS INHERITED
BOTH ENGLISH AND
MAORI ANCESTRY,
AS MY OWN DAUGHTERS HAVE.
HERE ARE TWO GLIMPSES
OF A CONTEMPORARY KEZIA.
THE FIRST GLIMPSE IS
SOMEWHAT FRIVOLOUS AND
PORTRAYS A YOUNG GIRL
WHO LIVES IN A VERY
MODERN EUROPEAN WORLD.
THE SECOND GLIMPSE IS
MORE SERIOUS AS HER MAORI
FATHER TRIES TO TEACH HER,
AS ALL TRIBAL MAORI PEOPLE
STILL DO, ABOUT
RESPONSIBILITY AND
TO NEVER FORGET THE
SACRIFICES THAT HER FAMILY
HAVE MADE SO THAT SHE
MIGHT INHERIT THE WORLD.
THE NAME OF THIS
CONTEMPORARY KEZIA IS KATARINA.
He reads OF COURSE, LOOKING
AT HER NOW,
ONE COULDN'T POSSIBLY
IMAGINE THAT KATARINA
HAD ONCE HAD A PASSION
FOR ELEPHANTS.
HERE SHE SAT WAITING AT
AUCKLAND AIRPORT WITH HER FATHER
FOR THE FLIGHT TO
TAURANGA TO BE CALLED.
AT THE OTHER END,
KURO AND NANNY
WOULD BE WAITING.
KATARINA'S FATHER
HADN'T THOUGHT ABOUT
THE ELEPHANTS FOR
QUITE SOME TIME.
GARRICK HAD OFFERED TO
DRIVE HIM AND KATARINA
TO THE AIRPORT AND
PERHAPS IT WAS THE FLASH
OF A PINK-AND-GREEN HOUSE
THAT REMINDED HIM.
CAN YOU REMEMBER THAT
PINK-AND-GREEN ELEPHANT
YOU HAD WHEN YOU WERE
A BABY, HE ASKED?
KATARINA WRINKLED
HER EYES,
THOUGHT FOR A MOMENT,
PUSHED A STRAY LOCK
OF HAIR BACK, AND
EVENTUALLY NODDED.
BUT IT WAS BLUE,
SHE SAID.
HER FATHER WAS
STARTLED.
ARE YOU SURE?
I CAN REMEMBER CLEARLY THE
DAY JOCELINE GAVE IT TO YOU.
IT WAS A STUFFED
ELEPHANT SEWN WITH CLOTH
SHE'D KEPT JUST
FOR THE OCCASION.
IT HAD A PINK TRUNK AND
GREEN FLORAL BODY AND
A TAIL AND - KATARINA
INTERRUPTED HIM AGAIN.
IT DIDN'T HAVE A TAIL, SHE
SAID, AND IT WAS BLUE.
He turns the page and continues WELL, THAT HAD REALLY
ROCKED KATARINA'S FATHER
BACK ON HIS HEELS.
GARRICK HAD THOUGHT THAT
FATHER AND DAUGHTER
WERE HAVING AN ARGUMENT.
AFTER ALL, KATARINA AT 12
YEARS OF AGE WAS GOING
THROUGH THAT
DIFFICULT STAGE,
THE CONVENIENT EXPLANATION
USED BY PARENTS
TO EXCUSE THEIR OWN
PARENTAL DEFICIENCIES.
SHE CERTAINLY HAD GROWN
ALARMINGLY SINCE THE LAST
TIME GARRICK HAD SEEN
HER, SPROUTING UP,
OUT AND SIDEWAYS,
AND THERE SHE WAS,
READY TO START HIGH
SCHOOL AND POISED
ON THE EDGE
OF WOMANHOOD.
SHE WAS ATTRACTIVE LIKE
HER ENGLISH MOTHER,
THANK GOD, BUT
UNFORTUNATELY JUST
AS DECISIVE AND, WHERE
MEMORY WAS CONCERNED,
AS UNFAIRLY ACCURATE.
NEVERTHELESS, ON THE CAR,
GARRICK HEARD KATARINA'S FATHER
TRYING TO ALIGN HER
MEMORY WITH HIS.
KATARINA, SWEET,
HER FATHER SAID,
SMILING WITH HIS TEETH,
ARE YOU SURE THE ELEPHANT
DIDN'T HAVE A TAIL?
I CAN REMEMBER QUITE
CLEARLY HOW YOU USED
TO CARRY IT, EITHER BY
ITS TRUNK OR ITS TAIL.
YOU THOUGHT THAT
ELEPHANTS HAD TWO TAILS,
ONE AT EITHER END, AND HER
FATHER HAD SMILED AT THE MEMORY.
NO, DADDY, THE UNGRATEFUL
CHILD HAD SAID.
THERE WAS NO TAIL.
IF I DIDN'T CARRY
IT BY ITS TAIL,
I CARRIED IT
BY ITS EARS.
THEY WERE BIG - PAUSE

AND THEY WERE BLUE -
ANOTHER PAUSE - JUST
LIKE THE REST OF IT.
GARRICK HAD DECIDED TO
CONCENTRATE ON THE DRIVING.
KATARINA'S FATHER HAD
DRUMMED HIS FINGERS
ON HIS BRIEFCASE.
KATARINA, SWEET,
HE HAD SAID KINDLY,
DON'T CONTRADICT
YOUR FATHER.
KATARINA WAS A LOVELY
NATURED GIRL AND HAD
ALWAYS BEEN SO, GIVE OR
TAKE THE OCCASIONAL
MOMENT OF WILLFULNESS.
LOOKING AT HER NOW IN
THE TERMINAL BUILDING,
HER FATHER COULD
NOT BELIEVE THAT
THIS WAS THE SAME BUOYANT,
APRICOT-COLOURED CHILD
WHO HAD ONCE HAD A
PINK-AND-GREEN ELEPHANT.
WHY, IT EVEN LOOKED LIKE
SHE HAD ADOPTED THE SAME
COLOUR SCHEME FOR LIFE.
SHE WAS WEARING A GREEN
TOP PRINTED WITH BLACK
DESIGNS -
ELEPHANTS, PERHAPS?
AND FADED PINK JEANS.
THE BOARDING
CALL WAS DELAYED.
KATARINA TOOK OUT A
PAPERBACK AND BURIED
HER NOSE IN IT,
INTENTLY AND FIRMLY.
WELL, HER FATHER SAID,
ABOUT THE ELEPHANT,
AND KATARINA ROLLED
HER EYES AND MUTTERED
SOMETHING HORRIBLE
UNDER HER BREATH.
YOU WENT ABSOLUTELY OVERBOARD
ON ELEPHANTS AFTER THAT.
THE MOBILES THAT WE HUNG
IN YOUR BEDROOM
HAD TO BE ELEPHANTS.
EVERY COLOURING BOOK
HAD TO BE OF ELEPHANTS.
WE TOOK YOU TO
AIDA
BECAUSE THERE WAS
AN ELEPHANT IN THE
TRIUMPHAL SCENE.
YOU NEVER LIKED DOLLS
AT ALL, JUST ELEPHANTS.
KATARINA SIGHED.
DADDY, SHE SAID, I
HAD LOTS OF DOLLS.
HER FATHER GAVE HER A
WARM HUG AND SAID,
SWEET, DON'T INTERRUPT
DADDY, OKAY?
WE EVEN TOOK YOU TO SEE
DUMBO
AT LEAST SIX TIMES.
HER FATHER ROARED WITH
LAUGHTER AT THAT ONE.
IT WAS
FANTASIA,
KATARINA MUTTERED,
AND YOU WANTED TO GO BECAUSE
YOU LIKED FLYING HORSES.
THEN YOUR SISTER
AMELIA WAS BORN,
KATARINA'S FATHER SAID,
AND SHE CAUGHT
THE ELEPHANT BUG AS WELL.
CAN YOU REMEMBER?
KATARINA GLARED AT HER
FATHER AND, NO, SHE SAID,
I HAD ONE BLUE ELEPHANT,
NOT A HERD, DADDY,
AND AMELIA HAD A BIG
BROWN TEDDY BEAR
WHICH JINGLED WHEN
YOU SHOOK IT.
PAUSE.
BOTH OF WHICH ARE SITTING ON
TOP OF THE WARDROBE AT HOME.
A SLIGHT IMPERIOUS SMILE

IF YOU WANT TO CHECK.
AND SHE HAD THE
EFFRONTERY TO PAT HIM
UNDERSTANDINGLY,
WICKED CHILD.
BUT KATARINA'S FATHER
WENT ON REGARDLESS BEING
IN THE GRIP OF THE
SENTIMENTAL MEMORIES.
WELL, HE EXCLAIMED, THE
LOVE OF ELEPHANTS REACHED
TO THE POINT WHERE YOUR
MOTHER AND I DECIDED
WE SHOULD TAKE YOU BOTH
TO SEE ONE AT THE ZOO.
KATARINA NODDED.
YES, THAT'S WHEN WE WENT
TO WELLINGTON ON HOLIDAY.
SO, SHE DID
REMEMBER SOMETHING.
WE TOLD YOU A WEEK
BEFOREHAND AND YOU BOTH
COULDN'T WAIT, JUST COULD
NOT WAIT FOR THE DAY.
WHEN ARE WE GOING TO
SEE THE HIPPOLUMP,
AMELIA WOULD ASK.
OH, YOU WERE
BOTH SO EXCITED.
KATARINA PUT
HER BOOK ASIDE.
OBVIOUSLY HER FATHER WAS
GOING TO FOLLOW THIS ONE
THROUGH TO THE BITTER END
WHETHER SHE LIKED IT OR NOT.
SO WHEN THE DAY CAME
WE PILED YOU BOTH INTO
THE CAR AND OFF WE WENT.
WE SAW THE RHINOCEROS,
THE EMUS, THE SNAKES,
THE KOOKABURRAS.
KATARINA INTERRUPTED.
THERE WAS NO
SNAKES, DADDY,
AND THE KOOKABURRAS
WERE COCKATOOS.
HER FATHER WAVED HER
OBJECTIONS ASIDE
AS MERE PEDANTRY.
KATARINA, DEAR, HE SAID
STRONGLY, I WAS THERE.
AND THERE WERE ALSO
HORSES, GIRAFFES, LIONS.
KATARINA BIT BACK
ON HER TONGUE.
AND WE LEFT THE
ELEPHANT 'TIL LAST.
THE BOARDING
CALL WAS MADE.
KATARINA SPRANG UP.
BUT HER FATHER
CALLED HER BACK.
SHE WASN'T GOING TO
GET AWAY THAT EASILY.
HIS EYES GREW
MOIST AND GLAZED,
AND YOU AND YOUR SISTER
JUST STOOD THERE HOLDING
YOUR STUFFED ELEPHANTS,
HE EMPHASIZED,
AND YOUR EYES WERE SO WIDE
AND YOUR MOUTHS DROPPED OPEN
LIKE THIS - AND HE WAS WITHOUT
SHAME DEMONSTRATING IN PUBLIC.
IT'S TIME TO GO NOW,
DADDY, KATARINA SAID.
IN A SECOND, SWEET,
HER FATHER ANSWERED.
AND THEN HER FATHER SAID,
YOU STARTED TO CRY
THESE BIG, BIG TEARS.
AMELIA STARTED
TO CRY, ALSO.
YOUR MOTHER AND I
COULDN'T UNDERSTAND WHY,
AND I ASKED YOU,
WHY ARE YOU CRYING?
DON'T YOU LIKE
THE ELEPHANT?
AND YOU RUBBED YOUR LITTLE
EYES AND SAID, NO, DADDY,
THIS ELEPHANT'S TOO BIG
AND IT'S NOT - KATARINA
MOUTHED THE WORD BLUE, TO
HERSELF - PINK AND GREEN.
THE LOUDSPEAKER
CRACKLED AGAIN.
KATARINA STOOD UP AGAIN
AND SMILED THAT, YES,
DADDY, ANYTHING YOU SAY,
DADDY, BUT CAN WE GO NOW?
SMILE.
HER FATHER STOOD
UP WITH HER.
TOGETHER THEY
WALKED TO THE PLANE.
THE HOSTESS WELCOMED THEM
AND FATHER AND DAUGHTER
STRAPPED THEMSELVES DOWN.
KATARINA TOOK UP
HER BOOK AGAIN,
BUT SHE COULD SEE
THAT HER FATHER
WAS STILL IN THAT
SENTIMENTAL MOOD.
YES, DADDY, SHE SAID,
AS THE PLANE TOOK OFF,
I DO REMEMBER GOING
TO SEE THE ELEPHANT.
AND AS THE PLANE SOARED
OUT INTO OVER AUCKLAND
ON ITS WAY TO KURO AND NANNY,
KATARINA'S MIDDLE-AGED
FATHER SIGHS TO HIMSELF,
AT LEAST, THANK GOD,
HE HAD GOTTEN
ONE THING RIGHT.
[applause]
Witi says THANK YOU FOR
LISTENING ME TO.

He sings and then speaks in Maori.
[applause]

(classical music plays)

The end credits roll.

Produced and Directed by Tracey Fisher.

Executive Producer, Michael Vaughan.

A Production of TV Ontario.

Copyright The Ontario Educational Communications Authority 1988.

Watch: Witi Ihimaera