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Your cultural connection

Aotearoa New Zealand is proudly multicultural, with over a third of the population born overseas Auckland being home to the largest Polynesian population in the world.

However, it is the indigenous people or tangata whenua (people of the land) known as Māori who hold mana motuhake (inalienable rights), especially when it comes to connection with the land.


Screen Auckland - Cultural Connection - Hero banner

Tuia ki runga 
Tuia ki raro  
Tuia ki waho 
Tuia ki roto 
Nō ngā hau e whā o Tāmaki Makaurau 
E tautoko ana a Tātaki ki 
Tāmaki Mākaurau Herenga Waka
Tāmaki Mākaurau Herenga Tāngata
Haumi-ē hui-ē (Tāiki-ē) 

Connect us to those who have gone before us 
Connect us to this land we are on
Connect us to the natural environment around us 
Connect us internally 
to the far corners of our home – Auckland 
so that we – Tātaki – shall help our city to be 
A place to unite nationalities 
A place to unite people 
Unite us in readiness for the purpose that we have come together (we are united) 


These words are known as a karakia or spiritual alignment, acknowledging those who have come before us, as well as our connections and our intent in our work. Karakia are commonly used in te ao Māori (the Māori world) and are part of a wider scope of tikanga (protocol) and tradition when engaging in cultural practices.

The Indigenous Tribes of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Māori people settled the Auckland isthmus around 1350, calling it Tāmaki or Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning "Tāmaki desired by many", in reference to the desirability of its natural resources and geography.   

Man and woman hongi with Auckland City in background
Our past and future

From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā (fortified villages). At the peak of prosperity in 1750, the population numbered tens of thousands. It was pre-European New Zealand's most wealthy and populous area.  

The signing of the declaration of independence in 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, enshrined these rights in law. While the partnership between Māori and Pakehā has often had difficulties, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Screen Auckland are committed to upholding honourable and respectful relationships, especially when it comes to the care and protection of the land and people. 

Today, Auckland Council recognise 19 mana whenua groups. Many of these groups have overlapping interests in certain areas. 

The legal term for Māori groups as they relate to engagement with Auckland Council is ‘Mana Whenua’ (Spiritual and Cultural Authorities of the Land), whereas in conversation, most groups prefer to be referred to as ‘iwi’ (tribes) and ‘hapū’ (sub-tribes).

Screen Auckland’s role

Screen Auckland’s role is to connect film productions to relevant iwi and hapū groups, and advise on protocols, culturally sensitive areas, likely costs and timeframes to receive permission to film on iwi land, as well as the best approach to get the best outcomes, and build meaningful and ongoing relationships.  

It is important to note that Screen Auckland’s role, is that of a connector and advisor rather than that of a negotiator when it comes to additional costs and time frames that may arise from cultural assessments and operations carried out by iwi.  

Iwi engagement

Iwi engagement is an essential step in the permit process, when it comes to filming on location in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

Some filming applications may be deemed inappropriate for some designated locations, or there may be additional requirements to meet. Therefore early and comprehensive consultation with relevant mana whenua groups is the best way to reduce the risk of unexpected replanning of your shoot. 

We strongly recommend consultation with relevant iwi groups before filming begins. We also recommend that production companies and location managers familiarise themselves with the guides and resources available, in particular the mana whenua consultation tool when determining which tribe(s) to consult with.  

More information

More information on ngā iwi me ngā hapū ō Tāmaki Makaurau (The indigenous tribes of Auckland) as well as best practice for cultural engagement can be found on the Taki app, here on Google Play and in the Apple App Store.

You can also find a more detailed guide on working with Māori, from the New Zealand Film Commission here. 

Introduction to concepts and vocabulary

If you are new to Aotearoa New Zealand, you will find that Māori words are commonplace in many communications. We have listed some frequently used filming and location kupu (words) below – but you can find more in Te Aka Māori Dictionary here. 

Using Māori words contributes significantly to building respectful and meaningful relationships – he taonga te reo! (The language is a treasure). 


For the naming of roles within the film and television industry, Māori Television has helpfully compiled this glossary. 

For commonplace day to day words used in everyday conversation, specifically with regards to locations, Screen Auckland has compiled a list below.  

Ara - path

Awa - river

Hapū - sub tribe

Iwi - tribe

Kai - food

Kaitiaki - guardian (cultural or environmental)  

Karakia - a prayer or incantation to acknowledge the spiritual energies present

Mahi - work

Mana - prestige or cultural esteem

Mana whenua - group acknowledged by Auckland Council as having special cultural interests in particular locations in the Auckland region

Maunga - mountain

Moana - ocean

Ngahere – forest

Pōwhiri – a larger more formal welcome for larger groups following traditional protocols

Rakau - tree

Rangatahi – youth / young people (colloquial)

Rohe - area

Tikanga – correct set of traditional protocols to adhere to

Urupa - Cemetery

Waka - vehicle

Waahi tapu – sacred place

Whakapapa – ancestral line

Whakatau – a smaller welcome where there is a settling of spiritual energy

Whare - house

Wharepaku - toilet

Whenua - land 

Kei te hiahia kōrero atu anō?

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