Director uses rap to expose prejudice

Last updated 05:00 07/06/2012
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ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
GOING STRONG: Dean Hapeta, creator of Ngatahi a series of documentaries, the last of which will be showing at the City Gallery.

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New Zealand hip-hop legend Dean Hapeta is premiering the final instalment in a series of documentaries at the City Gallery Wellington tonight.

Hapeta, also known by his stage name Te Kupu, says the six- part series, Ngatahi - Know The Links, is about "activism amongst native and marginalised people" around the wold.

"I've always wanted to make connections with native people who are struggling against capitalism, racism and greed."

He describes the documentaries as "rap-u-mentaries".

"A 'rap-u-mentary' is a music documentary without narration featuring rap and spoken word performance interwoven with music and images."

Hapeta raps for Upper Hutt Posse and the band released New Zealand's first rap song in 1988.

"The top hip-hop artists on the planet aren't saying anything of value which is a shame.

"Old school hip-hop involved activism. There wasn't such a thing as conscious rap, rap was conscious," he says.

The project started in 1990, when the band travelled to the United States to make a music documentary about hip hop.

"I do it through music, and music videos; why not do it through film?"

Part six of the series takes viewers to Budapest, Belgrade, Beijing, Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo  giving insight into the discourse and consciousness of international hip hop circles.

The screening is part of City Gallery Wellington's Matariki celebrations, along with Wax'n Lyrical  a fast-paced, Pacific poetry event on Friday.

Curator of Maori and Pacific art Reuben Friend says these events fit perfectly with what Matariki traditionally stands for.

"The crops had just been harvested, it was a bit too cold to go outside and the food was abundant, therefore it was the perfect time of year to write songs and make art.

"It's a great time to give voice to our local talent, promote conscious lyrics and express our place in the Pacific," Friend says.

The screening will run from 6pm till 9pm tonight in the Adam Auditorium at City Gallery Wellington.

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- The Dominion Post

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