Private Project

He Pounamu Ko Āu

He Pounamu Ko Āu (I am Pounamu) is a kaupapa Māori experimental short film that explores wahine Māori identity. The film unfolds through moving image, pounamu pūrākau (storytelling), mōteatea (sung Māori poetry), and ambient sound. Created for healing and artistically expressing a story of overcoming the adversity of colonisation and the reconnection to indigenous woman's identity. Drawing on maternal whakapapa (genealogy) to celebrate intergenerational wāhine talent.

He Pounamu Ko Āu traverses the application of a mana wāhine Māori paradigm and brings forth knowledge from whakapapa, whakawhanaungatanga (establishing relationships with people, place, and ancestors) and wairuatanga (the peculiar spirituality of people and places). This short film applies a conceptual identity framework of a pounamu pūrākau methodology developed by Dr Alvina Jean Edwards, which unpacks the questions "ko wai āu? No whea āu? Who am I? Where do I come from?".

Tia Barrett takes this conceptual identity framework and moulds it to fit the medium of film and mōteatea. Therefore, allowing the audience to engage with a uniquely indigenous take on what it is to see through the lens of pounamu. Filmed entirely in Te Waipounamu (South Island of New Zealand), He Pounamu Ko Āu activates a distinctive film-making process that evokes healing and connection.

  • Tia Barrett
  • Tia Barrett
  • Tia Barrett
  • Tia Barrett
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    I am the Pounamu
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Art, Environmental, Sovereignty, Maori
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    4,700 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
    New Zealand
  • Country of Filming:
    New Zealand
  • Language:
    English, Maori
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon 5D, M50 and Go Pro
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • St Paul's Gallery. Auckland University of Technology
    New Zealand
    September 5, 2022
    Postgraduate Toi Māia Award.
  • Māoriland Film Festival
    New Zealand
    March 16, 2023
    New Zealand Premiere
  • CoCA - Centre of Contemporary Art Toi Moroki
    New Zealand
    June 23, 2023
Distribution Information
  • Tia Barrett
    Country: New Zealand
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Tia Barrett

I am an emerging Māori moving image practitioner and photographer. My current art practice is firmly grounded in celebrating my wahine Māori identity and deepening my connection to my whenua me o ngā tūpuna (land and my ancestors) through a lens-based practice.

I am a 2023 New Zealand Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Springboard recipient.

A finalist and highly commended in the 2023 Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Awards.

I am a recent first-class honours, Master of Visual Arts graduate from Auckland University of Technology. My thesis 'He Pounamu Ko Aū: Celebrating my mana wahine Māori narrative' was a creative outcome of my MVA. I also hold a Graduate-Diploma in Communication from Massey University, an Honours degree in Media Arts from Wintec and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in screen and media from the University of Waikato.

In 2011, I directed, wrote, and produced a short film called Wild Sunday which was an official selection in the Wairoa Māori Film Festival.

In 2015, I was producer, writer and cultural advisor on short film Mrs Mokemoke. We successfully got into the Wairoa Māori Film Festival and New Zealand International film festival. As well as many other international film festivals. This film is now archived on NZ on Screen.

February 2021, I had my first collab exhibition at Never Project Space Gallery in Hamilton, NZ. I worked alongside established Waikato-based artist Zena Elliott. Our show was called Neon Flux. The kaupapa of the show was about telling the pūrākau of Mokohuruhuru (glowworms) through whakairo, moving image, sound and neon colour.

July 2022, I had my first solo exhibition Ōpukutahi at Never Project Space. Where I shared a glimpse into a part of my MVA research. I specifically focused on telling the pūrākau of my tūpuna whenua (ancestral land) - Ōpukutahi which is located in the Akaroa Harbour, Banks Peninsula, NZ.

September 2022, I had my final MVA exhibition He Pounamu Ko Āu held at St Paul's Gallery, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ.

February 2023, I showed again as a collab with Zena Elliott at Depot Artspace, Devonport, Auckland, NZ. Our show was called Muramura of Protest. We explored notions of gender roles in society, colonisation, identity and the whare tangata through whakairo, painting, moving image, karakia and taonga pūoro. Muramura of Protest was also a part of the Auckland Pride Festival 2023.

I am currently a finalist in the Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Awards. Exhibition opening happening May, 2023. I have an exhibition end of June 2023 called Whakaahua: Now I sit as Pounamu on Papatūānuku coming up at Wormhole Gallery, Edgecumbe, NZ. Finally, I am in a online and in-person group art show called Toi o Tau Hou 2023 in Hamilton, New Zealand and my solo exhibition in Mid-June 2023 at The Centre of Contemporary Art Toi Moroki, Christchurch, NZ.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I am now ready to share He Pounamu Ko Āu with the world. This film is a deeply personal journey of healing for me. I hope it inspires others to come back to their creative craft to find solace and compassion for themselves.