NZFC mourns passing of Barry Barclay

20 02 2008

“Kua hinga te Totara o te wao nui a Tane”

A Totara in the great forest of Tane has fallen

It is with great sadness that the New Zealand Film Commission receives news of the passing of film maker Barry Barclay.

Commission Chief Executive, Dr Ruth Harley, says Barry Barclay holds an honoured place in the development of New Zealand’s film culture.

“Barry Barclay’s film Ngati was the first New Zealand feature film to be written and directed by a Maori and it went on to win many awards, screening at Cannes and other major festivals,” Dr Harley said.

“That in its turn opened up a new pathway for New Zealand cinema with a focus on indigenous voices and stories that had previously been unheard,” she says.

Following the success of Ngati (1987) Barry Barclay went on to direct Te Rua (1991) and the docu-drama Feathers of Peace (2001) which centered on the Moriori of the Chatham Islands.

Dr Harley also pointed to Barry Barclay’s major role as a passionate advocate of indigenous voices telling their own stories.

“Barry was very clear about his goals for Maori cinema and his challenges to the system were important in provoking movements which benefited indigenous voices as well as adding to the taonga of New Zealand cinema in general,” Dr Harley says.

Dr Harley drew particular attention to Te Paepae Ataata, a new initiative for Maori filmmakers, which he was instrumental in getting off the ground.

“While Barry’s voice was strong in its challenges to the shortcomings he saw in the establishment, it was also strong in advocating positive ways forward and his critique has brought forth fruits which I expect to be even more numerous in the future,” Dr Harley says.

“His legacy will be not only in his films and creative work but also in his outstanding contribution to the development of New Zealand film though encouragement of new thought and his support for developing filmmakers.”

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