Advertisement

The Past Awaits: Migrant Histories and Multidirectional Memory in the Cinema of Vincent Ward

  • Allen Meek
Chapter

Abstract

Michael Rothberg has argued for a model of “multidirectional memory” in which the histories of slavery, the Holocaust, and colonialism enter into dialogue and make possible new forms of political solidarity. The films of Vincent Ward provide a useful example for considering Rothberg’s arguments in the New Zealand context. As a Pākehā New Zealander, he has directly confronted the violence of the colonial past. In Rain of the Children (2008), Ward returned to uncover the history of persecution and exile that shaped the lives of Puhi and her son Niki, the subjects of his first film In Spring One Plants Alone (1981). The destruction by colonial forces of Rua Kenana’s isolated community at Maungapohatu in 1916 and its impact on the lives of those who survived the raid is embodied in Puhi’s and Niki’s social marginality in the 1980s. In his two autobiographical books about his films, Edge of the Earth (1990) and The Past Awaits (2010), Ward explains how his emotional attachment to Puhi is related to his own family history, which includes his mother’s experience as a Jewish refugee. Ward’s films and books reveal an attempt by a Pākehā film-maker to define an identity through the traumatic history of Māori, but in a “multidirectional” sense linking it to other histories of catastrophe such as the Holocaust. This essay considers the ways that Ward’s attempt to articulate a post-colonial, post-Holocaust identity is bound to a narrative of colonial trauma.

Keywords

Vincent Ward Colonial trauma Multidirectional memory New Zealand film Film Cinema Māori Migrant Settler Native 

References

  1. Babington, B. (2007). A history of the New Zealand fiction feature film. Manchester UP.Google Scholar
  2. Bhabha, H. (1983). The other question. Screen, 24(6), 0001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binney, J. (2009). Encircled lands: Te Urewera, 1820–1921. Wellington: Bridget Williams.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Conrich, I. (2005). Kiwi Gothic: New Zealand’s cinema of a perilous paradise. In S. Schneider & T. Williams (Eds.), Horror international (pp. 114–127). Detroit: Wayne State UP.Google Scholar
  5. Conrich, I. (2012). “New Zealand Gothic.” In D. Punter (Ed.), A new companion to the Gothic (pp. 393–408). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Devadas, V. (2013). Governing indigenous sovereignty: Biopolitics and the “terror raids” in New Zealand. In B. Hokowhitu & V. Devadas (Eds.), The fourth eye: Māori media in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 3–24). Minneapolis, London: U Minnesota P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fisher, K. & Hokowhitu, B. (2013). Viewing against the grain: Postcolonial remediation in Rain of the Children. B. Hokowhitu & V. Devadas (Eds.), The fourth eye: Māori media in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 60–75). Minneapolis, London: U Minnesota P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McNaughton, H. (1998). Mapping as disturbance: First-World iconography at the border. In L. Dale & S. Ryan (Eds.), The Body in the library (pp. 105–120). Amsterdam, Atlanta GA: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  9. Macassey, O. (2011). Cross-currents: River Queen’s national and trans-national heritages. In A. Fox, B. Grant, & H. Radner (Eds.), New Zealand cinema: Interpreting the past (pp. 119–133). Bristol, UK; Chicago, USA: Intellect.Google Scholar
  10. Meek, A. (2013). Postcolonial trauma: Child abuse, genocide, and journalism in New Zealand. In B. Hokowhitu & V. Devadas (Eds.), The fourth eye: Māori media in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 25–41). Minneapolis, London: U Minnesota P.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meek, A. (2016). Biopolitical media: Catastrophe, immunity and bare life. New York & London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Mita, M. (1996). The soul and the image. In J. Dennis & J. Bieringa (Eds.), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand (2nd ed., pp. 36–54). Wellington: Victoria UP.Google Scholar
  13. Naficy, H. (2001). An accented cinema: Exilic and diasporic filmmaking. Princeton UP: Princeton & Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Rothberg, M. (2009). Multidirectional memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the age of decolonization. Stanford: Stanford UP.Google Scholar
  15. Ward, V. (1990). Edge of the earth: Stories and images from the Antipodes. Auckland: Heinemann Reed.Google Scholar
  16. Ward, V. (1996). Perimeters. Dennis J. & J. Bieringa (Eds.), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand (2nd ed., pp. 89–90). Wellington: Victoria UP.Google Scholar
  17. Ward, V. (2010). Vincent Ward: The past awaits: People, images, film. Nelson: Craig Patton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations