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W A Y S  T O  S E E 

Amaia lives with her deeply depressed mother in an inner-city apartment. With no family or friends close by, she desperately seeks out her absent father. Believing that mystical powers and a mysterious woman can reconnect them, Amaia goes to extreme lengths to win her attention and friendship. When the woman visits the family home, she becomes a familiar and welcome playmate for Amaia but also carries the hard truth of her father’s absence. The young mother and daughter cannot pretend any longer and will have to decide if they can continue living with each other.

D I R E C T O R ' S  N O T E 

As a child of Māori and Pākehā parents, this whakapapa (genealogy) has made me curious about the meeting of these cultural narratives and how that affects identity. Ways To See is no exception – it’s a story about a young girl of Māori and Pākehā descent, who uses both her cultures’ stories to make sense of a family tragedy.


I was inspired to write Ways To See after visiting Japan and seeing the many ways their Shinto rituals that are practiced in everyday life. Inspired by the work of Hayio Miyazaki, and his mix of traditional and modern day storytelling. I use drama and magic realism, in this film as a modern interpretation of a very old Māori 'ancestor' in the mind of a young girl living in a city – the girl's surroundings influence the form this 'ancestor' takes. 

The other characters in this film are fictional and not a reflection of my own family. However, like Amaia, I approached the absence of my father in a similar way. Those reflections laid the foundations for Ways To See. I was supported on this writing journey by script supervisors Briar Grace-Smith, Natalie Medlock, and Jack Wedde. 

This film is essentially about grief and moving through that. It’s about how all-consuming it can be and what we cling to in times of intense emotion. It's about the darkess that can arise from the absence of loved ones, but also the confusion that comes from not fully understanding your own culture – Amaia's version of her 'ancestor' is distorted through a modern lens and she has to speak a mix of English and Māori. 


Ultimately I hope the film encourages people to move through the darkness of these mental spaces and choose life and their loved ones. The themes may be triggering for some, and if you are struggling with strong emotions, I encourage you to reach out to a loved one, or the many services available to us in Aotearoa/New Zealand (see below).


Mental health services available in New Zealand:

  • Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

  • Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

  • Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116


  • Mahi a Atua 

  • Grief Centre – NZ Phone (09) 418 1457

  • Skylight NZ Freephone 0800 299 100

  • Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email

  • For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812)

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