Her short film Te Ao o te Tuturuatu received the Best Young Film-maker Award. The short film is a five-minute animated story of the endangered Tuturuatu (Shore Plover/Dotterel) and its habitat and survival in New Zealand.
At 12 years of age, Tomairangi is the youngest film-maker ever to have a short film selected in the 25-year history of the festival, which is the most prestigious of its kind in the Asia Pacific region. This year it selected 48 films to screen in competition out of 1853 entries from 112 countries.
As well as writing, directing and animating her film entirely by herself when she was 11, Tomairangi also narrated it in te reo Maori.
“The sympathy, deep feeling and love that 11-year-old Maori girl Tomairangi Harvey feels for the shore dotterel overflows from her animated film and was clearly conveyed to us,” the festival judges said.
“With thousands of years of protecting and living with nature behind them, the Maori people truly have traditions and a history to be proud of.
“Please keep sending your wonderful messages to the world.”
Te Ao o te Tuturuatu was made for New Zealand’s sustainability film challenge for young people, The Outlook for Someday. It won the Whakatipuranga Award in 2014 for covering a Maori indigenous perspective on sustainability.
Tomairangi Harvey is Moriori, Ngati Mutunga, Tuhoe and Ngai Tahu. She lives in New Brighton, Christchurch.
“I like the idea of showing people through film, the world, the truth,” Tomairangi said. “Te reo Maori is a way for me to show people through my own eyes.
“Being nominated for the festival didn’t seem real. Then winning an award was scary and exciting. It was scary being in a strange place and having to get up in front of everyone but exciting to get lots of people saying how much they liked what I did.”
Tomairangi travelled to Japan for the festival with her mother and David Jacobs, who is director of The Outlook for Someday.
“Tomairangi’s project is a beautiful expression of Aotearoa New Zealand,” Mr Jacobs said. “It is a film with great soul. It speaks authentically of our people and our land and in the language that we are working to regrow.”
About The Outlook for Someday:
Now in its ninth year, The Outlook for Someday is New Zealand’s sustainability film project for young people. Through an annual film challenge and a national series of sustainability film-making workshops the project helps grow a generation of sustainability storytellers.
Each year there are 20 winning short films in the film challenge, which asks anyone up to the age of 24 to make a short sustainability-related film of any genre, filmed with any camera and any length up to five minutes.
The entry deadline for 2015 is September 11.
At The Someday Awards red-carpet ceremony in December each winning film-maker receives a commitment that their project will be entered into at least one international film festival the following year.