Wilderpeople adventures

So a couple of weeks ago this amazing thing happened where my fiancé, who is something of a clever clogs, won a competition via Air New Zealand for tickets to the red carpet premiere of Taika Waititi’s latest film “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. I was pretty durn excited about it, I can tell you.

It’s not often I get a free trip up to the big smoke. It’s even less frequent that I get to rub shoulders* with “the beautiful people” of the entertainment industry while I’m there. Also, I’d seen the trailers for “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and was genuinely excited about seeing the film. I’ve enjoyed all of Taika Waititi’s directorial efforts, most especially Boy, which did this weird thing to me, where I thought I was totally fine, and then 10 minutes after the movie finished I started bawling my eyes out on Moorhouse Ave. Generally, I hold it against people who make me cry in public, but in this case I’m prepared to be forgiving.

Anyway, because I have watched too many teen prom movies I went completely nuts on the premiere pre-planning getting a haircut AND a manicure AND a new dress. While this would have been more or less standard party prep when I was in my twenties, I am now the mother of a two year old and go to the hairdresser approximately twice a year or when I start getting mistaken for Captain Caveman, whichever is sooner. Naturally (or rather preternaturally) the aforementioned toddler woke me up at 4:45am the morning of the movie premiere.

Honestly, his ability to sense when I’m planning an evening out and to ensure I’m as exhausted as possible for it is uncanny. So we just had to get him to his grandmother’s house, get to the airport, fly to Auckland, get a bus to the hotel, get glamorous, find our way to Sylvia Park Mall, hob-nob, watch movie, get back to our inner city hotel, sleep, be checked out by 11am and fly home again… This was all rather daunting and I think it shows in my “airport shuttle selfie” of that morning.

But you know what? What with all the excitement, it wasn’t too bad. Sure, I used half a tube of concealer trying to hide my eyebags, but so what? This was possibly the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me on a Wednesday. *double checks what day of the week child was born on*

No, yeah. Definitely the most exciting Wednesday in living memory.

So I have never been to a movie premiere before and didn’t know quite what to expect. First off I was surprised to see that the red carpet was actually green, but given the wilderness theme, maybe I shouldn’t have been. Also, because I have never been to Sylvia Park Mall before (a day of firsts!), we had no idea where we were supposed to be going, or what was open on a Wednesday at 6:30pm which is how we ended up eating Subway for dinner in our best clothes instead of parking up at one of the nice bars there or at the very least, Wagamama.**

So that’s a lesson learned.

So basically we just hung around trying to look fabulous until the red green carpet officially opened. For me this fabulousness took the form of NOT screaming and fainting when I saw Tim Finn, and putting my sunglasses on so as to a) appear more famous and b) take some of the pressure off my frankly overworked concealer.

We could tell that the green carpet had “opened” when the velvet rope barrier came down and some people started walking up it. The fiancé showed a nice girl in an “on brand” bush shirt our invitation and then there we were, walking down 15 or so metres of carpet. To my disappointment we were not blinded by flash bulbs, and my strut down the carpet was accompanied by a dog. A dog was walking the not-exactly-red carpet with me. I bet it hadn’t even had it’s nails done. To be fair, the dog was technically a cast member, but still, that’s not a “who wore it better” competition I want to be in, you know?

The carpet opened out into a circular courtyard area but veered off to the left, and this was where all the lights and cameras and media gather and where people have their “red” carpet interviews. The rest of us just sort of mill around in the background star-spotting, drinking free beer, and taking stupid selfies, like this one…

Fortunately my friend Endangered Species Ambassador and all around cool chick, Nicola Toki was there so we had someone we actually knew to talk to a bit. But mostly it was just a case of craning my neck to see famous people, none of whom I had the nerve to talk to. Definitely lot of awkwardly cradling a beer and not talking to people. So pretty much every party I ever managed to be invited to in my teens. Here’s my list of all the famous folk I saw that night in no particular order –   

  • Neil Finn
  • Tim Finn
  • Tom Scott
  • Samuel F Scott
  • Kidzone Morgan (I don’t know what her last name is but my kid LOVES her)
  • Assorted Shortland Streeters (I recognise their faces from promos but I have no idea who they are)
  • Anika Moa
  • Jaquie Brown
  • David Farrier
  • Vincent Ward
  • Marama Davidson
  • Oscar Kightley
  • Teuila Blakely
  • Tammy Davis
  • Stan Walker
  • Sam Neill
  • Taika Waititi (obvs)
  • Mihingarangi Forbes
  • Ian Mune
  • Rima Te Wiata
  • Rachel House
  • Julian Dennison
  • Cory Gonzalez-Macuer
  • Jerome Kaino & Jerome Kaino’s delicious looking bubba

    Oh, and this lovely man.

John Campbell is the only legitimately famous person in New Zealand (that I’m not related to) that I know I can greet with a hug without it being weird. We chatted a bit and I made my “I can completely understand what this person is saying in te reo Maori” face during the speech of the dude who introduced Taika Waititi because I thought he might be looking. Sorry John, I pretty much only understood every 6th or 7th word. Aroha mai.

And then we drank some more beer (FREE!) and went inside to see the movie, which was a blessing because by this stage I’d been standing in 3 inch heels on a concrete floor for over an hour. I like to think that it was in the spirit of the movie for me to watch it barefoot, yeah?

As for the film, well it was bloody brilliant. Heartwarming in some places, sad in others, outrageously over the top sometimes, yes but always with that eye for the quirky and awkward that Taika Waititi has. I can’t recommend it enough (you can read my review over on the Christchurch City Libraries blog if you’re interested).

And then a couple of days later I realised something else about the film that I really liked…there were a lot of brown people in it. And not Brown People with capital letters but just people who incidentally happen to be brown and are in the film. This is a distinction that may not have occurred to you before but a lot of the time when you seen brown people in movies, in particular Maori people, their maoriness is kind of instrumental to the plot of the film or the point of them being there. It’s a movie about two warring Maori tribes or a new person coming into or returning to A Maori Community. Scenes take place in a wharenui, on a marae. There is talk of The Iwi or My People or Our Ancestors.

There’s actually nothing wrong with that kind of film. I don’t want to give you the impression that there is. Those are definitely stories that should be told. I guess, they just don’t speak much to my experience of being an urban, somewhat disconnected from my iwi, Maori. What I like about Taika Waititi’s films is the way I can see Maori faces on screen, and they’re just there, as main characters, supporting characters, just part of the scenery and diversity of Aotearoa. Placed there without comment as if it were completely normal for them to be there (which it is – but that’s not something that movies have historically been very clever about).

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “skuxx” used in a film before and that made me actually really happy. And I’m about 20 years too old to get away with using that word in any context other than advanced irony.

So yeah, great movie. Good times. Thanks Air New Zealand and the Wilderpeople crew for a mad 24 hours.

*I would have accepted a shoulder rub from you, Tammy Davis, if you’d offered. Just putting that out there.

**But not actually Wagamama because I’m still pissed off that they never came back to Christchurch after their Oxford Tce restaurant shut because of the earthquakes. It’s been five years, guys. What the hell?

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