Mary lives in middle class suburban New Zealand. After briefly befriending a young Māori boy at her school, she becomes curious about his culture and its relevance to her. But when he turns his curiosity onto her, it soon becomes clear that Mary is not quite ready to embrace her own roots.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES - Ainsley Gardiner
The word ‘mokopuna’ has two meanings in the Māori language. Firstly, it is the physical reflection of your face, secondly it is the word for grandchild or descendent. It suggests that we are a physical reflection of those who have gone before us. The question at the heart of this story is captured in its dual meaning. How does one connect to all that have been before, how does one know who one is, and what it means to be that, when the face reflected in the mirror does not clearly show that? It is a story of literal reflections and my own emotional reflection to a time of my life when I first, and quietly, became aware of this curiosity in myself. It is about that time of life when children cease to simply be, and start to question what it means to be. For Mary she does not consciously realise that her curiosity about Sam is about self-exploration. It is simply the first, non-momentous step in a life long journey to discover what it means to be Māori, to be Mary, and simply to be.
Mokopuna is a small and explicit story about the question of identity. I hope it is a film that will resonate with indigenous cultures around the world. Who are we? What does that mean? How do we fit in? But it is also a film that presents the same question to a non-indigenous, non-minority audience, searching for identity is a journey we all go on. I hope this film encourages an audience to keep searching.