In The Dark Horse, Ka Kite Bro, Yellow Brick Road and Boy we are shown young Maori boys being affected by the many societal and cultural issues that are prominent in New Zealand. Issues such as racism, dysfunctional fathers, cultural ignorance and gang life all make appearances in these texts. All of these issues bring a negative impact to the young Maori boys lives and they will have to fight through the issues to gain a better and healthier life.
In the 2010 film “Boy” by Taika Waititi, Two main features are living in poverty and dysfunctional fathers. Boy lives in a small rural town mostly occupied by Maori’s. Because of the economic problems is the town it is ruined by poverty. Boys father, Alamein, comes back into town to get some money, Alamein tries to parent Boy but lack the parental instincts to actually assist Boy. Alamein also brings along his ‘gang’ the crazy horses. Alamein also drinks without any concern for Boy or any other of the kids. All of these issues build up and obviously would negatively affect any child suffering from such a dysfunctional father, as they are your role models when are younger, always wishing to be like your dad is such a common idea for young boys. In the end Boy confronts his father saying “I don’t remember you! You weren’t there! you weren’t there when he was born! you weren’t there when she’s died! where were you?” and he realizes that he doesn’t have to stare down the barrel of a gun called time and let himself turn into his father but he could be better, and with the help of his Nan and other more positive role models he will be.
In Ka Kite bro, a short story by Willie Davis, Tama is left shaken after the death of his dear friend Darryl. Tama tries to pay his respects in a traditional Maori way. When he tries to do this all he is met with is harsh cultural ignorance from pakehas that fail to understand what he is doing. The school’s principal attempts to help Tama feel better by stuttering through “Kia Kaha” a Maori phrase meaning “Stay Strong”. Tama is told countless times to stop his silly Maori ways but he resists the people ignorance and continues his efforts to pay his respects in the only way he knows how. In the end, Tama is able to speak to Darryl at his funeral. he say “all i wanted was to see you and say goodbye the only way i knew how. well it’s more like see ya later then goodbye aye bro”. Tama has done all he can to say goodbye to Darryl and he understands that he can rest now.
In ‘The Dark Horse’ a film directed by James Napier Robertson, we see throughout the film the growth of the protagonists, genesis, nephew, Mana. Mana is brought up in a gang life culture, being the taught the ways of someone in the vagrants. This obviously affects Mana negativity, as he was mentally and physically scarred. Mana if forced to participate in the initiation of the ‘ vagrants’. Mana is fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to escape the gang life through a chess club ran by his uncle. Unlike a lot of young Maori boys, Mana is able to escape the violent gang life, in which he has already gone through physical and mental abuse, parental neglect for and also an unhealthy environment for a maturing teen to live in. Mana’s uncle speaks of the abuse Mana asking “How many times have you been pissed on? How many times before you stop crying? This goes to show the torture Mana has gone through being a vagrant. Mana has been alienated into thinking that all he could be is a vagrant and that it is his destiny, he says “That’s where I belong.” in reference to the vagrants, this shows how manipulated he has been, But even to today Maori boys are still entering gangs and allowing themselves to be subjective to such primitive ways.
In the short story ‘Yellow brick road’ by Witi Ihimaera, we are shown a rural Maori family moving to Wellington through the eyes of a Maori boy called Matiu. In this text we encounter the issue of racism, we see this when as the family has stopped on the side of the road and Matui runs into the road in front of a car, the drive argues with Matuis dad and says “Oh what’s the use. You Maoris are all the same. Dumb bloody horis.”. Matui is still a child and does not understand the significance of the word ‘Hori’. Another issue this texts faces is the urbanization of Maoris who are moving from their rural gated communities to a big busy city such as Auckland, Wellington or Gisborne. At the beginning on the text, Matui is excited and thrilled about moving to a big new city but in the end the realization of how different it will catch up to him as he gets closer to his new home. This is a common experience for past Maoris who are coming into the new urbanized cities.
New Zealand has a lot of societal and cultural issues, more than we would like to admit. It’s hard to give an exact solution to these problems because it seems like no matter what we do racism, dysfunctional fathers, gang life and cultural ignorance will always be present in our lives. Although there are things we can do to lessen the frequency and break the cycle, such as being more understanding of other people’s culture and race. However, gang life and dysfunctional parents will always be an issue as it is less of a societal issue and more of an interpersonal one, this means that we will always have issues hidden from the public eye in New Zealand, but we as a community can try our best to teach our youth not to follow the paved path into violence and corrupt family life but to lead a path less traveled and live better lives than those in the past.