Bridging Binaries: Navigating Bicultural Space in Film Design

Keywords: Biculturalism, Film production, LGBTQ, Manaakitanga, Spirituality


This article examines how a researcher (a filmmaker whose lineage is both Indigenous and European) navigates ‘betweenness’ that is sometimes disruptive to cultural conventions. As a gay man who identifies as bicultural, I orient myself with, within and across worlds. From this position my approaches are largely shaped by the Māori values of manaakitanga (caring for the needs of people), kaitiakitanga (protecting and caring for all creation) and whanaungatanga (creating and sustaining relationships). These are supplemented by values emanating from my position as a gay activist and the resulting concerns with social justice and facing down the erasure, marginalization or exoticization of LGBTQ+ identities.  Although I am of mixed race ancestry, I see my bicultural positioning as a way of accessing a form of epistemological pluralism that embraces intellectual, physical, social and spiritual ways of knowing. Thus, when creating the feature film Punch (Ings, 2022), it was necessary to find a place to stand, in practice, as a bicultural story designer. This involved actualizing productive care inside how the film production was experienced, working in communion with the land as a living being, and navigating tensions of transgression by establishing facilities for cultural guidance and insight within the project. 

Author Biography

Welby Ings, Auckland University of Technology

Welby Ings is a professor in narrative design at Auckland University of Technology. He is also an elected fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts and a consultant to many international organizations on issues of creativity and learning. He is an award-winning filmmaker, author, designer and illustrator. Although he holds a Ph.D. in narratology, he publishes widely on practice-oriented inquiry, methodology and Indigenous scholarship. In 2001, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, and in 2013 and 2022, university medals for his contributions to research and education. His academic profile can be accessed at: 


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