12-year-old Tomairangi Harvey is celebrating in Tokyo after winning an award last week at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival.

Tomairangi's short film Te Ao o te Tuturuatu received the Best Young Film-maker Award. The film is a five-minute animated story of the endangered Tuturuatu (Shore Plover) and its habitat and survival in New Zealand.

Tomairangi is the youngest film-maker ever to have a film selected in the 25-year history of the festival, which is the most prestigious of its kind in the Asia Pacific region. This year it selected 48 films to screen in competition out of 1853 entries from 112 countries.

As well writing, directing and animating her film entirely by herself when she was eleven, Tomairangi narrated it in te reo Maori.

 “The sympathy, deep feeling and love that 11-year-old Maori girl Tomairangi Harvey feels for the shore dotterel overflows from her animated film and was clearly conveyed to us,” said the festival judges.

“With thousands of years of protecting and living with nature behind them, the Maori people truly have traditions and a history to be proud of. Please keep sending your wonderful messages to the 

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Tomairangi Harvey and other New Zealanders from the JWFF with Deputy Ambassador Peter Kell at the NZ Embassy in Tokyo

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Tomairangi Harvey at the NZ Embassy in Tokyo

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Tomairangi Harvey in Tokyo

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Tomairangi Harvey wins award at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival

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Head Judge Allison Argo gives Tomairangi Harvey her trophy at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival.

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Te Ao o te Tuturuatu was made for New Zealand’s sustainability film challenge for young people, The Outlook for Someday, which TEARAWAY is proud to sponsor. Te Ao o te Tuturuatu won the Whakatipuranga Award in 2014 for a film with a Maori indigenous perspective on sustainability.

Tomairangi Harvey is Moriori, Ngati Mutunga, Tuhoe and Ngai Tahu. She lives in New Brighton in Christchurch.

“I like the idea of showing people through film, the world, the truth,” said Tomairangi. “Te reo Maori is a way for me to show people through my own eyes.”

“Being nominated for the festival didn’t seem real. Then winning an award was scary and exciting. It was scary being in a strange place and having to get up in front of everyone but exciting to get lots of people saying how much they liked what I did.”

Tomairangi travelled to Japan for the festival with her mother and David Jacobs, who is director of The Outlook for Someday.

“Tomairangi’s film is a beautiful expression of Aotearoa New Zealand,” said David Jacobs. “It is a film with great soul. It speaks authentically of our people and our land and in the language that we are working to regrow.”

Watch Te Ao o te Tuturuatu here. 

Want to know more about The Outlook for Someday? Click here