Originally a popular French animated feature film called Astro Kid, the hero of Tama Kaiātea is a boy called Wiremu. Wiremu gets separated from his parents when their space ship is destroyed, and he ends up on a strange planet. While he awaits rescue he is protected by his survival robot Paki. Together they encounter dangers and make friendships as they explore their new home. This is a thoughtful and fun-filled movie. It's an engaging film for small children, but will charm the whole family.
Tama Kaiātea was produced by Māoriland Productions at their He Paki Taketake studio in Ōtaki. The script was translated into Māori by local teachers and linguists Clayton Cook, Te Kiwa Goddard and Hēni Jacob. Libby Hakaraia produced the film, and Tainui Stephens cast and directed the voice actors.
Tainui Stephens says the recent success of Lion King Reo Māori shows a demand for screen stories in the Maori language - for children as much as for adults.
Stephens was clear about the types of voices the team wanted for Tama Kaiātea.
"The actors needed to feel comfortable in the Maori language and be able to respond to direction.The sound of each individual voice also had to evoke the personality of the character."
He Paki Taketake studios are staffed by rangatahi who have been trained by the Māoriland Charitable Trust as part of its rangatahi development strategy. The aim is to upskill young Māori and get them entry into the film and digital creative industries. The sound engineer for the film is Maaka Gair-Houia, and the production assistant is Ōriwa Hakaraia.
The production of Tama Kaiātea was supported with Innovation Funding from Te Mangai Pāho. The focus of He Paki Taketake is to reversion films in te reo by using the Māori language skills of the local community. Ōtaki is the home of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, NZ’s first Māori university. The Wānanga is a result of a long term vision set in place by the elders of the Āti Awa, Raukawa and Toa Rangatira iwi (known as the ART Confederation) to revitalise te reo Māori amongst their people.
Although most of the voice actors for the film were found in Ōtaki, the hero Wiremu is performed by 9 year old William Lockwood (Ngāti Pikiao) a student at Rotorua Primary School. Te Puaheiri Snowden (Te Māhurehure, Ngāti Kuta-Patukeha) plays Wiremu's father. He lives in the Waikato and is a host for the popular reo Māori podcast Taringa.
Ōtaki provided all the other voices including Te Ākauroa Jacob who plays the super capable robot Paki, and Ariah Kapa who plays Wiremu's Mum. Local musicians and staunch reo advocates Angie Stretch and Turanga Mahutonga provided the reo Māori waiata that feature in the soundtrack.
He Paki Taketake was proud to once again make use of Kiwa Digital’s VoiceQ software for the reversioning into the Māori language. This internationally acclaimed software package enables translations to be done on-line and immediately available in-studio for the voice artist to record.
Tainui Stephens says to expect many more projects to come out of He Paki Taketake studios.
“When the Māori language is used well in any form of storytelling, an attractive and welcoming indigenous personality shines through. Tama Kaiātea has given a playful Māori character to a film that will keep the little ones glued to the screen. It's a fun filled entertaining story for any lovers of te reo Māori”.
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