Avatar sequels will feature haka, Māori elements - James Cameron

James Cameron says the alien Na'vi will perform a Maori haka in the Avatar sequels.
Na'vi characters in Avatar Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Filmmaker James Cameron has said his Avatar sequels will feature a stronger Māori influence, and even an alien haka.

The blockbuster action sci-fi movies are set in the future and based on a conflict between human industrialists and an environmentalist species of aliens called the Na'vi.

Cameron, who has resided in New Zealand, told 1 News in a recent interview that the Na'vi of the multiple upcoming sequels to his hit 2009 film will be partially inspired by tangata whenua.

"I love the sound of the Māori language, so I introduced some of the sounds into naming the animals and the Na'vi language and so on, hopefully not to the level of cultural appropriation but more of an homage," Cameron said.

While he didn't star in the original Avatar, Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis is set to have a prominent role in the sequels.

Cameron said he wanted to be sure a Na'vi haka would be OK with Māori leaders, but Curtis assured him it would be fine.

"I want something that is somewhat like a haka, but interpreted through different body structures and how we use the tail," said the Aliens and Terminator filmmaker.

"[Cliff] said 'I know exactly what to do', and I said, 'Is this OK? Should we check with the iwi on this?' and he said 'I think it's a great idea, let's just do it'. So there you have it."

Avatar 2 has been delayed several times, but is currently scheduled for release in December, 2020.