Archives For Storytelling

Natasha Bishop, winner of last year’s Outlook for Someday sustainability film challenge, and David Jacobs, from The Outlook for Someday, tell us about Arboraceous, the power of storytelling, and the latest exciting development that sees them heading to Japan next month.

David and Natasha at last year's Someday Awards.

David and Natasha at last year’s Someday Awards


Arboraceous winning the DOC Big Picture Award and being chosen as The Body Shop Standout Winner in The Outlook for Someday last year came as a genuine surprise for me! It was great receiving a lot of positive feedback on my animation, and getting the honour of presenting it at DOC’s end-of-year event at their head office.

Making Arboraceous was an opportunity to send a clear message about sustainability through storytelling, which is what The Outlook for Someday film challenge is all about.

Screen shot from the film Arboraceous. Shows man sitting under an apple tree.

Arboraceous: Sustainability through storytelling


Yes that’s exactly what The Outlook for Someday is about. People have always told stories about what’s going on for them – it’s a fundamental part of what it is to be human. These days we don’t tell our stories with pictures on stone cave walls – we have moving images and sound and a global cave wall called the Internet. And what’s going on for us more than anything these days is the question of how we can sustain ourselves and our planet.

So with The Outlook for Someday we aim to help grow a generation of sustainability storytellers. That’s Natasha’s generation – and films like Arboraceous make my job very satisfying. With the film she conveys a profound truth with sweet simplicity.


The moral of Arboraceous is about renewing what we already have on our earth, instead of going off and trying to find a new planet. In making the film I set myself clear boundaries – I wanted to tell an in-depth story without using dialogue or text. So I told my story using colour, expression and symbols.

Illustration of rocket taking off.

There’s only one planet Earth


And in a simple, compelling way the film gets across the absolute key to sustainability as I see it. That we are all connected – to nature and to each other.

Illustration showing a round earth with houses and people around its circumference.

We are all connected – to nature and to each other


I guess that’s why the Department of Conservation has been really supportive and enthusiastic about my animation from the start.

And since The Outlook for Someday win, Arboraceous has been nominated for the Japan Wildlife Film Festival in August this year. As the youngest film-maker to have a film nominated in the JWFF’s 20 years of running, this is a big experience for me! I’m really thankful for all of DOC’s support, and to Air New Zealand for sponsoring my flight to Japan.


Yes big partnery thanks DOC and also to Air New Zealand for Natasha’s flight. I’m really proud of what Natasha has achieved. And I’m excited to be going to Japan to support her and to represent New Zealand as a nation with an emerging generation of young people who tell stunning sustainability stories.

Watch Arboraceous

Arboraceous from The Outlook for Someday on Vimeo.

Follow the journey to Japan on Twitter:

– The Outlook for Someday @tofsfilm

– Natasha Bishop @Maki_Tak

– #Arboraceous

The Department of Conservation is a partner of The Outlook for Someday sustainability film challenge for young people and also sponsors the Big Picture Award. Read about past winners and learn how to enter the 2013 challenge on the DOC website. The 2013 entry deadline is 13 September.

It’s Māori Language Week—Te Wiki o Te Reo Māoria perfect time for us to enjoy a kōrero about te reo with Joe Harawira, DOC’s Kaihautu – Te Putahitanga (Manager- Strategic Partnerships).

Language is central to the cultural identity of both the individual and the community to which he or she belongs. Not only does a language express the realities of a particular group, but it also marks one’s membership of that group, both from within (since the language is shared) and without (since it highlights one’s differences).

Joe Harawira at the Maori Market in 2011.

Joe story telling at the Māori Market in 2011

If a language is lost, the cultural identity of the group is considerably weakened, which in turn alters the very nature of the society of which that group is part. In light of this, it may be considered important to retain and promote the Māori language, in order, amongst other things, to develop a diverse and harmonious society.

Ko Te Reo Te Hā Te Mauri O Te Māoritanga.
Language is the very life-breath of being Māori.

Te Taura Whiri I te reo
Māori Language Commission

In 1987, the Māori language became an official language of New Zealand along with English and, more recently, Sign Language (2006).

The Māori language is a very important part of who I am as New Zealander. Having travelled the world over the past 35 years as a storyteller, I am constantly asked by the audiences I perform to, to tell the story in my language, the Māori language.

All languages have a wairua, a spirit. The Māori language seems to be one of those languages that people can hear, can feel, can know, can understand. Even though the language is foreign to the ear, and the people I met on my travels are first time listeners of the Māori language.

I first of all tell the story in te reo Māori and then retell it in English, with a translator from that country retelling it in German, Dutch, French, Hungarian and so on. In fact, when in Paris last January, I told a story in te reo Māori and a young Māori university student who had been through the Kura Kaupapa Māori immersion schooling system translated straight into French for the children gathered. It was a fantastic experience.

Joe Harawira storytelling in the Outback (Kakadu).

Joe storytelling in the Outback (Kakadu)

The Māori language has a spirit of its own and in order to maintain the integrity of the spirit, correct pronunciation is required. To mispronounce a word is to alter its story and its spirit. All names, including place names, have a whakapapa, a story.

An example of people altering words is the use of Paraparam for Paraparaumu. I am not sure what the story is behind Paraparam, other than people having trouble pronouncing the word or just plain laziness. I could be facetious and say that the story behind Paraparam is that it is about someone pushing a pram down the street. Paraparaumu alludes to the plentiful food resources of the area, evident in the leftovers found in the food pits. The literal translation of parapara is scraps and umu is cooking pit or oven.

I make this point, more so, to share the importance of maintaining the integrity and the spirit of the language through correct pronunciation, as the correct pronunciation of Māori names and words has a bearing on its meaning. I wish not to labour the point of the importance of language to a culture, other than to say that we all are connected, physically, spiritually and mentally to the natural world, in our own ways, through our deep sense of manaaki (caring) and tiaki (nurturing).

The Māori language is a simple language. It is made up of vowels and consonants. An understanding of the pronunciation of those vowels and consonants will go a long way to giving the language the mana that it deserves. I congratulate those that see value in learning the Māori language as an addition to the tool and skill sets that you already possess.

Kia kaha.