New Zealand's traditional Māori welcome for Ghost in the Shell

Cast and crew of the 'Ghost in the Shell' have been honoured with a traditional Māori welcome at New Zealand's national museum. Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

Cast and crew of the international live-action sci-fi feature Ghost in the Shell, have been honoured with a traditional Māori welcome, launching the film shoot which has begun in Wellington, New Zealand. 

Cast members including the film’s stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara and Tawanda Manyino were joined by around 60 guests and film crew members who were welcomed to New Zealand with a traditional Māori pōwhiri held at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Family members were welcomed as part of the wider Ghost in the Shell whanau (family) along with representatives from the New Zealand Film Commission, Tourism New Zealand and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. 

Announced by the sounding of traditional shell instruments, the guests were welcomed by local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Toa and museum staff with the Ka Mate haka. 

The haka is best known internationally as performed by New Zealand’s rugby team the All Blacks. It was composed around 1820 by Te Rauparaha, an ancestor from the Ngāti Toa tribe, which is based in Wellington, and is the current 'iwi in residence' at the museum. 

Guests and hosts exchanged speeches in the Māori language, acknowledging the ancestors, the land, and the honour of the occasion. 

Speaking on behalf of the Ghost in the Shell team, executive producer Michael Costigan acknowledged the importance of the welcome.

“We are very grateful that you have hosted us here in Wellington and have so generously shared your culture and your home with us,” Mr Costigan said. 

“We come to you as a tribe ourselves, and like you, we share an ocean, and we share a love of storytelling. That is what has brought us here, and brought us all together.”

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis also spoke of the common threads between the guests and their hosts.

“Ghost in the Shell is a truly international project, and a testament to the universal human appetite for a great story – whether it’s told in the carvings of a marae, or on the cinema screen,” Mr Ellis said. 

“Thank you for being with us today, so you can become part of our story, and we can become part of yours.”

Te Papa Tongarewa literally means ‘container of treasures’, and the museum offers visitors a chance to discover the treasures and stories of New Zealand’s land and people.

To conclude the pōwhiri, the guests and hosts engaged in the hongi: the shaking of hands and touching of noses - the traditional Māori greeting which allows the sharing of the life spirit or mauri between participants. 

Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, Ghost in the Shell follows a female special ops cyborg who leads an elite task force called Section 9. Section 9 is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, led by an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology. Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures / Reliance Entertainment present Ghost in the Shell, which is due for release 31 March, 2017. It is directed by Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders.  

Ghost in the Shell was written by Jonathan Herman from a script based on the Japanese comic books of the same name created by Masamune Shirow. Ari Arad, Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing, with Michael Costigan, Jeffrey Silver, Tetsu Fujimura and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa executive producing.

Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum showcasing a bicultural experience across five areas - Art, History, Pacific, Māori, and Natural Environment.

Catering to young and old, Te Papa is frequently hailed as an exceptional museum that delivers an unforgettable experience.