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Seventh Wairoa Maori Film Festival

Press Release – Wairoa Maori Film Festival

THE SEVENTH ANNUAL WAIROA MAORI FILM FESTIVAL was celebrated this weekend when over two hundred people gathered at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, to celebrate the best of Maori and indigenous film making.THE SEVENTH ANNUAL WAIROA MAORI FILM FESTIVAL was celebrated this weekend when over two hundred people gathered at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, to celebrate the best of Maori and indigenous film making.
Forty special guest film makers were joined by film students from AUT Te Ara Poutama and South Seas Film & Television School. The festival opened on Thursday with a special screening of BROKEN BARRIER presented with the support of the New Zealand Film Archive. Scenes from BROKEN BARRIER, directed by John O’Shea in 1952, were originally filmed in Kahungunu Marae which was also the venue for this community fundraiser for the local Te Iwi O Rakaipaaka organisation.

Day Two of the festival was a “Village Voices” film making workshop with Ngati Kahungunu film maker Brad Haami, who is looking to continue to work with the Nuhaka community and local budding film makers to get Wairoa stories on screen. A delegation from Waikaremoana, lead by James Waiwai, arrived for a special screening of Kathleen Gallagher’s SKY WHISPERERS. A bus from Auckland with film makers and film students then arrived for a night of new Maori short films and the new documentary WAIRUA AUAHA by Ella Henry. The audience on Friday had the opportunity to view and vote for thirteen Maori short films, films either directed, written or produced by Maori or with Maori themes and Maori actors in their content. “We thank the numerous film makers who have shared their creative vision by entering their films at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival,” said Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol. Short film makers in attendance at the festival included Mark Ruka, Wake Matthews, Rachel Ross, Melissa Dodds, Jack Nicol, Lennie Hill and Tia Barrett. Actors attending to support their film makers included Jesse James Rehu Pickery, Julia Hyde and Rob Mokaraka.

“We are an indepedent film festival with a genuine vision of nurturing and supporting emerging film makers,” says Festival Director Leo Koziol. “We thank these creative visionaries for sharing and screening their new short films at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, and we will do all we can to continue to promote their success and profile at other events, including the “Nga Whanaunga” short film screenings at the New Zealand International Film Festival, “Whanau Shorts” at Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand, and art gallery screenings in Invercargill, Henderson and Mangere.”

Saturday was a busy day, beginning with Ella Henry and Whetu Fala presenting information on Nga Aho Whakaari, the Maori in Film & Television organisation..A presentation from AUT focused upon developing integrated content in this modern age, such as developing apps for iPads integrated with film making projects. Jan Bieringa presented her new film TE HONO KI AOTEAROA to a standing ovation from the audience, Nicole Baker presented WHANGAI GIRL with a bus of students from Manawatu Kura Kaupapa (who were involved in making the film), and then the festival proceeded into the afternoon with films from VIP international guests Tony Coolidge and Katherine Marielle.

Tony Coolidge is the documentary subject in his film VOICES IN THE CLOUDS, where he explored his own personal journey discovering his Austro-Nesian indigenous with the Atayal tribe in Taiwan. Tony Coolidge had been hosted on the Thursday at a social function at Kiwa Media in Auckland, the event hosted Nga Aho Whakaari and Rhonda Kite CEO of Kiwa Media. Tony Coolidge is commencing a “Hawaiiki” film project where he will be documenting Maori film students on an exchange programme to Taiwan sponsored by his Atayal Organisation. Katherine Marielle’s PEACE VILLAGE looked at the leadership of prophet and spiritual leader Peace Village Founder Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo. Dhyani’s hosts international indigenous spiritual gatherings at the native Peace Village in Vermont, USA, and also travels the world to share her messages of peace and compassion in this modern age. Katherine Marielle spokes of how she hopes to bring Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo to the next Wairoa Maori Film Festival in 2013.

The evening then moved into the afternoon with film maker Nikki Si’ulepa introducing two films, SALAT SE ROTUMA and SNOW IN PARADISE. SNOW IN PARADISE screened as part of a special “Children of Hawaiiki” evening of Pasifika short films, with films made in Aotearoa, Samoa, Cook Islands and Hawaii. Joining Nikki Si’ulepa was film maker Chatelle Burgoyne who introduced her new short film TATAU.

The centrepiece of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival was the MANA WAIROA FILM AWARDS where the following awards were presented:

Audience Award – Aotearoa Short Film Best Actor; Jesse James Rehu Pickery in MEATHEAD

Audience Award – Aotearoa Short Film Best Actress, Mabelle Dennison in WHAKATIKI

Audience Award – Aotearoa Best Short Film LAWNMOWER MEN OF KAPU by Libby Hakaraia

Jesse James Rehu Pickery was present to accept his Best Actor award, with audiences members chanting “Meathead, Meathead” as he took to the stage. One of the original lawnmower men of Kapu, Pat Hakaraia, had travelled up from Otaki, and he accepted the Best Short Film Award for Libby Hakaraia and LAWNMOWER MEN OF KAPU.

A special Mana Wahine award was then presented to Ella Henry. Susi Newborn, Executive Director of Women in Film & Television (WIFT) presented a lifetime achievement award to Ella Henry for her services to the film industry at the Wairoa Gala awards. “Ella has worked as a writer, director, actor and producer and it is a pleasure to be here tonight to present this to an outstanding film champion” said Newborn. The Mana Wahine Award is a new award presented jointly by WIFT and the Wairoa Maori Film Festival. Ella Henry is the second recipient of this award, with the 2011 award presented to writer, director, actor and producer Katie Wolfe.

The remaining awards presented on Saturday evening were:

Best Documentary of Drama Feature – Aotearoa – OPERATION 8 by Abi King Jones and Errol Wright

Best International Indigenous Entry – VOICES IN THE CLOUDS by Tony Coolidge

Mana Wairoa Festival Prize Best Overall Entry – THE ORATOR O LE TULAFALE by Tusi Tamasese

Abi King Jones and Errol Wright were present to accept their awards. Tony Coolidge thanked the festival for his award, and spoke of his continuing work to build bridges between indigenous cultures globally. Samoan film maker Nikki Si’ulepa accepted the award for THE ORATOR on behalf of Tusi Tamasese and the people of Samoa. Nikki Si’ulepa spoke of how she had taken her Samoan whanau in Auckland to see the film to seven times to packed houses, and how she has bought thirteen copies of the film for all of her whanau in Auckland and back in Samoa. Nikki Si’ulepa concurred that THE ORATOR was the best film at the festival, and indeed was in her opinion the best film in the world of 2011.

Film makers then had the opportunity to wind down for an evening and day of relaxation, hot pools, further films and traditional Maori kai. Sunday morning saw the screening of OPERATION 8, ON THE ICE from Alaska, and THE ORATOR O LE TULAFALE. Film makers had the option of double feature BILLY T TE MOVIE / SIONE’S 2 or hot pools at Morere which had been open especially for them that evening. Kai was traditional Maori boil-up and muttonbird soup, followed by steam pudding to warm a winter night. The festival concluded with a group Poroporoaki on the paepae of Kahungunu Marae on Monday morning, before a packed bus headed back to Auckland.

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival would not be possible without the generous financial sponsorship support of the New Zealand Film Commission and without the tireless work of the a diilgent team of festival volunteers based in Nuhaka, Wairoa, Murupara and Auckland.

The next Waroa Maori Film Festival will be held at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, at Queen’s Birthday weekend May 31 to June 4 2013. “After this year’s grand success, we can only hope to grow and grow in future a landmark cultural event of New Zealand and the East Coast,” said Festival Director Leo Koziol.

Authorised by Te Roopu Whakaata Maori i Te Wairoa – Wairoa Maori Film Festival Society Inc.

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