Pastor Ngarima George said Film Raro was a great success and he enjoyed the screening, but the cultural practice of starting and ending events with a prayer should have been followed.
He said organiser Stan Wolfgramm – whose mother is a Cook Islander – was not raised in the Cooks and it may not have occurred to him, but the Ministry of Culture should have informed him of the practice.
“I understand he was brought up out of home – the Ministry of Culture should stand and let him know.”
George is a well-known taunga korero (master orator), who is respected in local communities for his cultural knowledge.
Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Sonny Williams, who was responsible for overseeing who entered the auditorium at the two screenings at the weekend, said he was sorry there was no prayer and he did not realise this until after the event had begun.
“I was caught up trying to control the massive crowd. I had to make sure we kept within the limits of the auditorium, to make sure people were safe. I didn’t have time to have anything to do with the prayer.”
He agreed there should have been a prayer and said having an opening and closing prayer is a cultural practice that is customary for any event. But he said the issue was outside of the Ministry’s control and it is the organiser’s responsibility to arrange a person to say an opening and closing prayer.
“If it was our own programme, if it was a Ministry of Culture event, we would do a prayer. It is part of our culture.”
Wolfgramm said he is aware of the practice of saying an opening and closing prayer, but that it did not occur to him to have a prayer at the time.
“I think we were just so rushed. Everyone was down to the wire. We’d changed locations a few hours before, some of the teams were still finishing their films our biggest priority was getting the films out.”
He said no-one approached him about saying a prayer prior to the event, but Film Raro would look at doing so in the future.
“If you don’t have the support of your culture, you’ve got nothing. It’s about saying, ‘how can we do this for social and economic benefit? There has to be benefits for everyone. At the end of the day, it does come down to people saying, ‘That’s not right’.”
He said there were cultural issues along the way, such as The Offshore Pirate crew wanting to schedule a dance party on Muri Beach on a Sunday, but this was helped by locals advising international crew members about cultural protocol.
“All the crews had locals with them. A lot of the success of Film Raro is because of the locals facilitating it.”