The Other Half of Sciascia





The Sciascia children grew up as Maoris, their family name - their only link with Italy. The family grew to include some four thousand people.

The family whakapapa wasn't complete, though, as they had lost all traces of the Italian half of the Sciascia family. The whakapapa (genealogy and all its cultural implications) defines a Maori and its relationships within the Maori world, and that hole in their family tree was troubling the family.

Over the second half on the 20th century the Sciascias of New Zealand went to Italy several times to find the other half of their family, the Italian cousins.

And always failed.

Then, in 1997, TVi produced a documentary on their search. It ran for an hour. It featured Rangi nui the Sun and Papa tu a nuku the Earth, and Tane mahuta the God of Forests. It was full of Maori gods and legends and songs and history. It featured a wedding of a woman from the family to an Italian-Australian from Perth in the Sciascia marae, where the ancestral spirits dwell.

It took the production crew all over Aotearoa, the Maori word for the country, including the tracherous seas between the two main islands of New Zealand.

Click here for a much abbreviated version.



It almost did not happen


"Some time in the mid-Nineties I heard that the Italian Ambassador to New Zealand had been made an honorary Maori", says Claudio. "I followed up on that tip and got in touch with family elder Sonny Sciascia in Levin who told me the story of their ancestor. Once I learned more about the Maoris, what I thought would be a nice story about an Italian sailor's adventure became a better story about a Maori family in search of its own identity.

"But I just could not interest anyone in Italy.

"Then just before Easter 1997 I was in Rome, on the light rail to the airport, when my briefcase was stolen with passport, air tickets - the lot. I went back to RAI to send emails & faxes alerting my office to what had happened. RAI International Director Roberto Morrione took pity on me and took me to lunch. And over lunch I told him the story, and he agreed to fund it.

"I still thank that thief."

The crew


Claudio Paroli directed the shoot and wrote the script with Sabina Sacchi, who narrated the documentary. The New Zealand footage was shot by Wayne Vinten on Digital Betacam, while Brian Shennan did location sound. Cristiano Forti was the Italian cameraman, and Massimo Palumbo completed the editing started by Kiwi Chris Plummer on Avid. Rounded up the crew production assistant Mariangela Angelucci and veteran director and wisdom dispenser Gian Carlo Manara.


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