Paul Wolffram

Associate Professor
School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies

Teaching in 2020


Dr Wolffram is a Senior Lecturer in the Film Programme and the Director of the Miramar Creative Centre. He oversees all of the film production course at Victoria University of Wellington and is the coordinator and course designer of the Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice) in Film. Dr Wolffram has a diverse background in English literature, music composition, ethnography, documentary film, ethnographic film, cinematography, short film production, and commercial video production. He specializes in Creative Documentary practice and Ethnographic Film and has worked extensively throughout the Pacific region as a documentary producer, director, and cinematographer. His work aims to embrace the potential of creative documentary to engage deeply and meaningfully with worldviews and narratives that are beyond a Western frame of reference. Many of his works focus on cross-cultural collaborative engagement and his films and creative research are public facing, seeking to make other cultural ways of knowing and being in the world accessible to outsiders.

His latest documentary feature film, What Lies That Way (2017) premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival and is currently screening internationally. The film explores cross cultural collaboration by documenting the his own participation in the shamanic process of spiritual communication known as Buai, in the island regions of Papua New Guinea. His other recent work Voices of the Land – Nga Reo o te Whenua (2014) and Stori Tumbuna (2011) examines the role of music and narrative in the construction and understanding of cultural life-worlds among Maori and Melanesian communities respectively.

Dr Wolffram’s films have earned him several international awards for collaborative film making among New Zealand and Pacific communities including the Society for Visual Anthropology’s Jean Rouch Award 2012, the Aperture Festival Awesome award for creative film making (2013) and the Tartur World Film Festival Award for cultural documentation (2014).

You can read more about Dr Wolffram’s films at NZ on Screen or visit IMDB


PhD Victoria University of Wellington


  • Creative Documentary theory and practice
  • Production Studies
  • Ethnographic film theory and practice
  • Short Film Production
  • Script writing and development
  • 360 Video and Virtual Reality Cinematography


2017. What Lies That Way A film by and about Sorcery. Feature documentary – Producer/Director

2014. Nga Reo O Te Whenua – Voices of the Land. Feature documentary – Producer/Director

2011, Stori Tumbuan: Ancestors Tales. Feature documentary – Producer/Director

2011 Rubber’s Kastom. Feature documentary – Producer/Director

2011 Te To’kie i Nukunonu: Tokelau Weaving. Feature documentary – Producer/Director

2008 Te Eitei: The Banaban Story. Feature documentary – Producer/Director


Forthcoming - 2018 Dreaming a narrative and conjuring an image: Collaborative filmmaking with people and spirits in Melanesia. Visual Anthropology. May 2018

2017 Buai: “There is Good and Bad There” - Experiencing and narrating the spiritual power of music and dance in the New Guinea Island Region. Shima- International Journal of Island Studies. Vol.11 no. 2

2013, Instruments of Southern New Ireland. Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2013 Oxford University Press. New York.

2013, Pakeha, Palagi, Whiteskin: Reflections on Ethnographic Socialisation and the Self, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

2012, Chapter 21 Pacific Music and Dance: An introduction, The Pacific Islands: Environment and Society, Edited by Moshe Rapaport. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2010

2012, An Ethnographer in Paris. Illusions: New Zealand Moving Image and Performing Arts Criticism, Editor Lawrence McDonald.

2011, Music is where we found it: A festschrift in honour of Allan Thomas, Editors Wendy Pond and Paul Wolffram, 2011 Victoria University Press, Wellington.

2011, A Power Like No Other: Music, Dance and the Maintenance of Social Order in a New Ireland Community, In Music is where we found it: A festschrift in honour of Allan Thomas, Editors Wendy Pond and Paul Wolffram 2011, Victoria University Press, Wellington.

2010, Langoron: The Experience of Music and Dance Among the Lak People of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Published Thesis, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrucken, Germany 2010.

2010, Singing Spirits: Performance Place and Space in Island Melanesia. In, Austronesian Soundscapes: Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia, (AUP - IIAS Publications) Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2010.


2015 Pyramid Club, Wellington – Invited talk on “Music and Film”.

2015 Nepal International Folk Music Film Festival – Invited talk. “Visual Acoustics” – Voices of the Land. Exploring the relationship between traditional Maori instruments and the landscape in Film.

2014 Critical diagnosis seminar – invited talk – “Ebb and Flow: Filmmaking and Parkinson’s”.

2014 Radio New Zealand – Invited talk to production staff – How to think with a camera”

2014 Stout Research Centre – Invited talk with Miriam Ross “Capturing Culture in three dimensions: The 3D Production Initiatives’ Partnership with Te Papa”

2013 SEFTMS Seminar Series Victoria University of Wellington – “Creating the Real: Creativity and Ethnographic Film”

2012 Indiana University – Indiana USA – Invited screening and talk “Creative Engagement: Performance based Participatory Cinema”.

2012 Harvard School of Divinity – Boston USA. “Creative Engagement: Performance based Participatory Cinema”.

2011 Conference paper – Textiles symposium. “Weaving with a Camera”.


Winner of Victoria Early Career Teacher Excellence Award, 2017

Best Cinematography. Nepal International Folk Music Film Festival. Awarded to Paul Wolffram – Director of “Voices of the Land” 2015.

Wenner-Gren Foundation Fejos Fellow 2015.

Awesome Award, Aperture International Ethnographic Film Festival. Festival Prize awarded for innovative approach to film making. 2015

Te Wai Ao Fund, New Zealand Film Commission for Documentary Feature Film production. Project role: Producer and Director.2014

Staff Excellence Award. Public Contribution Award for voluntary work with the Tokelau Community of Wellington. 2013

Winner of the Jean Rouch Award of Collaborative Film Making. Society of Visual Anthropology. 2012

Winner of a Fullbright Travel Award. 2012

Teaching in 2020