Re-reading Works on Poverty Seminar: Reframing the Narrative through Cinema, Kath Akuhata-Brown, 3 May 2024

Re-reading Works on Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand

In collaboration with the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies and the Adam Art Gallery, this series takes a fresh look at some major Aotearoa cultural works on poverty. Across six weeks historians, curators, researchers, writers, and performers ‘re-read’ books, plays, novels, songs, and academic analyses from across the 20th century shedding light on the historic trajectories of poverty in our country. In looking back this series invites an evaluation of our contemporary situation, providing context for current issues such as inequality, our low wage economy, beneficiary shaming, gendered poverty and the long-lasting effects of colonisation.

Seminar 3 – Kath Akuhata-Brown, Washday: A short Film.  Reframing the Narrative through Cinema

Friday 3 May at 3.00pm
Murphy Lecture Theatre MYLT102

Kelburn Parade
Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington

The film is a response to the book Washday at the Pa written by Ans Westra and featuring her iconic photography.  When the book was published in 1964 and distributed to New Zealand schools it became the focus of Māori protest.  A few months after the release of the book, and after pressure from Māori, in particular the Māori Women’s Welfare League, the book was recalled.  Though photographed in Ruatoria on the East Coast, the book tells the story of a day in the life of a family from Whanganui.   Over the following decades much has been written and filmed about the book and the controversy.   

Washday:  Whai turns his car into a water pump while his young daughter, Hine, becomes a force of nature. The film brings together simple rituals of daily life in a small Māori family binding them together with the land, water, air and the constant spiritual presence of our gods and ancestors.


Kath Akuhata-Brown 

Ko Hikurangi te maunga, ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Ngati Porou te iwi.  Ko Te Aitanga a Mate me Te Whānau a Hinerupe, Te Whanau a Tuwhakairiora ōku hapu. 

Kath is a writer and director.  Since very young Kath has attempted to show the world as she sees it.  Discovering the tools and language to articulate this has been a challenging journey.  Kath is a graduate of the Binger Film School at the Amsterdam School of the Arts in the Netherlands.  She has written and directed television documentaries, docudrama and drama over a career spanning 30 years.  She has been a Development and Script advisor and assessor as well as a board member on various industry guilds.  Her first feature film Kōkā is due for release in 2025.