'Ngati' director was 63

Prominent Maori filmmaker Barry Barclay has died after suffering a stroke. He was 63.

Barclay was the first Maori to direct a New Zealand feature film, “Ngati,” which won best film at Italy’s Taormina Film Festival in 1987 and screened at the Cannes Film Festival. He wrote and directed “Te Rua,” a fictional story about a group of Maori who set off for Berlin to reclaim tribal carvings held in a museum.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dr Ruth Harley said Barclay holds an honored place in New Zealand film. 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 his support for developing filmmakers, she said.

Larry Parr, a Maori film producer and program director at Maori Television, said Barclay was a major advocate for indigenous film and television notably in the 1970s, when he directed a landmark series of television documentaries titled “Tangata Whenua.”

Born in 1944 Barclay joined John O’Shea’s Pacific Films as a director of trade films, television commercials and documentaries.

Documentaries of that period include “All That We Need,” an energy conservation doc that opened the 1973 Tehran Film Festival, and “Indira Ghandi,” a profile of the Prime Minister. Barclay also wrote and directed “The Neglected Miracle,” a political documentary on the ownership of plant genetic resources, shot over two years in eight countries. His most recent film is “The Feathers of Peace,” a drama-docu based on the Moriori people of Rekohu (the Chatham Islands).

Parr, who is program director for Maori, said Barclay was a strong advocate for the sector, and that his legacy was the development of the Maori TV channel and the fact that the Maori — who were largely absent from New Zealand film and TV — are now featured in large numbers.

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