Indigenous Beats: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

by Katie McCleary (Staff Columnist)

“Indigenous Beats” is a new column dedicated to the circulation and discussion of indigenous news cuz #NativeErasure. Raised on the Crow Rez in Montana I come from Apsáalooke and Chippewa-Cree families. Check back for that aunty quality gossip, reviews of indigenous arts, and coverage of issues that affect indigenous communities. I’ll be there for you when mainstream media isn’t.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople: Indigenous laughter and resilience

At the suggestion of another Native, I ventured into Bow Tie Cinema to watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I knew only that the the movie is written, directed, and produced by Taika Waititi, who is Māori of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.

Based on Wild Pork and Watercress by New Zealand author Barry Crump, the story follows a young city kid, Ricky, sent to live with a quirky couple in the country by child welfare services. What ensues is a hilarious story of the boy’s fight against the government for a family and what he perceives as freedom.

Indigenous humor is considered by many indigenous peoples to be culturally distinct and a powerful way of healing. Watititi doesn’t disappoint, slipping in jokes and absurd scenarios to balance out serious moments. However, Watititi doesn’t shy away from confronting political issues. The movie sparks discussions on child education, along with government protection and oversight.

The cast works spectacularly together, and the two main actors have a chemistry that makes the film all the more heartwarming. An added plus is the stunning overview shots of the New Zealand countryside. I left Bow Tie Cinema feeling filled with laughter and inspired by Ricky’s resilience.