John the Baptist preaches te reo in Māngere

By Mānia Clarke

English baptist preacher John Catmur is on a mission to preach about the goodness of te reo. 

His journey is being told in a new short film, John the Baptist, by first time director and co-producers Kayne Ngatoko Peters and Piata Gardiner-Hoskins.

“For me it's being able to worship God and uphold the principles of justice and equality of all people,” says Catmur, “Those values align with my beliefs as a minister.”

Inspired by a 'call from God', John moved from England to Aotearoa in 2007 to minister in Māngere, South Auckland. 

He says living amongst Māori enlightened him to want to learn the language and customs.

“It's the beauty of the metaphoric and embellishing language,” he says.

“It's the official language of this country, and that's the most important aspect to me.”

His journey inspired Peters to create the short documentary through the Loading Docs 2018:IMPACT initiative for filmmakers.

“It's about correcting people's perception of the Māori language,” says Peters, “That it's a valued treasure handed down by the indigenous people of this land.”

John the Baptist premieres tonight, along with nine other short films in Auckland. 

Peters is looking to screen the short documentary at international film festivals in LA and London next year.