Kahurangiariki Smith

MāoriGrl (video game demo) (2017)

3 min 30 secSingle channel / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

"MaoriGrl is a role-playing platformer video game that reinvents the story of Hinetītama / Hinenuitepō, the story of the woman who became the goddess of death in Māori mythology. The game MāoriGrl serves as a visual reference to this story, with bright colours, a nostalgic wide-screen format, and abstract landscapes to create a naïve atmosphere in the game’s world– a stark contrast to the realities of Hinenuitepō’s purpose in embracing the deceased. The name of the game itself is derived from Hine, E Hine, the title of my mum’s PhD thesis, in which she researched different Māori goddesses from pre-colonial times and sought to further support a spiritual connection back to these atua wahine.

​With the ability to give life as Hinetītama and take life as Hinenuitepō, Hinenuitepō's narrative has been twisted over time and misunderstood by many. According to Best (1) “trouble, misfortune, death emanate from the female element” as a result of the “contention between Maui and Hinenuitepō”. Through telling Hinenuitepō’s story in this video game, I plan to bring her story to life in a way that is accessible and engaging to a younger audience who may be unfamiliar with Hinenuitepō’s story, as well as older generations who have missed out on learning about atua wahine.

The installation itself is an attempt to put the viewer in the realm of the MāoriGrl, with a minimal set up to put the focus on the game itself. To engage with the game, the audience must assume the position of a child – sitting on a mat, amongst a whare/fort with sheets draped everywhere, playing video games - much like the girl like in MāoriGrl would"

(1) The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Volume 35, 1926, Notes on customs, ritual and beliefs pertaining to sickness, death, burial and exhumation among the Maori of New Zealand, by Elsdon Best, pp. 6-30.

Artist's statement

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