Maranga ake Aōtearoa

This week, Renae Maihi, filmmaker endured four days of court proceedings against her while Taika Waititi shook up the Oscars with his mihi to tangata whenua of Turtle island. Renae was taken to court by one of the richest people in New Zealand. ‘The millionaire property investor was suing Maihi after she started a petition calling a column he wrote racist, and hate-speech.’ (Meriana Johnson NZ Herald) The case was withdrawn on the fifth day after only one day of Renae Maihis’ evidence.

The case has been well-documented and taking a leaf from Prime Minister Adern book along with the Taika Waititi ‘Give nothing to racism’ campaign I won’t be naming said millionaire property investor either.

It is 25 years since the recclaimation of Māori lands at Pakaitore, Whanganui. At Pakaitore this week, sitting under the ‘kai’ tree listening to the kōrero ebb and flow around me, it seemed unreal that after the sacrifices, the struggles, the education that Māori are providing for all our country, that Māori like Renae are still being tried for speaking up.

Perhaps more poignant is that in the NZ Herald photo above we see yet another generation of Māori and supporters like Davey Salmon (son of Prof. Anne Salmon) Renaes’ defence lawyer and team rallying to support Renae and her kaupapa.

Renae joins Pania Newton at Ihumato and doubless many more not as well documented all over our whenua who every day wage the fight for Māori land, language and culture to be recognised.

It is time for all of this country to get ‘woke’ to Māori sovereignty. Perhaps one day, like the waiata of our prophet Mere Rikiriki Māori will awaken to ” Haruru ana te rongopai nei” until then it is as our last generation of Ngā Tama Toa asserted in the 70’s taken from the rangatira of Maniapoto “Ka whawhai tonu matou!”

(Pictured Above L-R 2nd Pat Hakaraia, Ratu Tibble, Leo Koziol, Dame Gaylene Preston, Renae Maihi, Rob Mokaraka, Hinemoa Awatere, Heperi Mita, Katie Wolf, Becs Arahanga, Suzanne Tamaki: Source: Meriana Johnsen NZ Herald)

Ngā Tangata o te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa

From the call of a Tahitian kaumatua to help save their language and culture identity by the forming of an Oceania-wide new media fund (Pictured above), to Heperi Mita FIFO winning film “Mereata Mita: How Mum decolonized the Screen” to NITV Australias’ Anusha Duray “Nothing about us without us” and last but not least, FIFO co-founder Walles Kotra assertion “Oceania … exists only because we meet.”

FIFO 17th documentary festival in Papeete Tahiti was a blast. Made even more memorable for the aspirations of indigenous content creators mixing, mingling and exchanging stories from Samoa, Vanuatu, Rarotonga, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Aōtearoa and all over the Pasifika.

2020 Papeete with its homeless people stranded on waterfront parks in full view of massive tourist cruise liners, was as far from the Gaugin painted tableaux of my high school art history lessons as you could get. Markets run by locals are hidden in the back blocks while seaside shops with high glossy shop windows front the main roads.

Invited to take part in this festival courtesy of FIFO 2020 I jumped on the Air Tahiti flight (lovely turquoise plane seats with cushions of yellow, pink, red, lime cushions) not really knowing what to expect. At best, a documentary feast, at worst a chance to enjoy balmy island winds.

Tahiti as a French overseas territory is a long way from Paris but surprisingly, many of the locals I met, talked about Paris like we talk about going to Auckland, despite it being a 23 and a half hour plane ride away. Tahitian and Māori are so similar and I was forever being reminded “E kore au e ngaro te kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea.”

FIFO documentary festival is 17 years old (one year older than Māori TV) founded by Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu now Minister of Culture Polynesia and Walles Karte now Head of Overseas Territories for French Television it has been a labour of love for these two. Now run by an impressive organisation it has gone from strength to strength.

While we were there, the announcments of the nominations of Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley for best picture at the Academy Awards no less was like we won the film lottery, the world of native creatives had well and truly arrived.

With a large, local and enthusiastic documentary loving audience, endless warm weather even with the occassional windstorm and typhoon like rain, this FIFO is simply Pasifika magic.


We, the media of Oceania, assembled in Tahiti for the 14th Oceanian Television Symposium at the 17th FIFO Festival (International Festival for Oceanian documentary Film) make an urgent appeal to the governments of the countries of the South Pacific and members of the Pacific Islands Forum, calling for the establishment of a regional support fund for Oceanian audiovisual and digital creation.

In the face of:

  • Risk of losing of our respective countries’ audiovisual heritage, particularly due to the arrival of international content platforms;
  • Risk of our languages being lost;
  • Risk of a dilution of our identities and values;
  • Difficulties related to the dissemination and sharing of our work throughout Oceania and beyond, due in particular to the additional cost of translation;
  • The tsunami of formatted content that is far removed from our realities;
  • Erosion of our unique heritages due to a tsunami of international information. Furthermore, this fund would:
  • Allow story tellers from Oceania to relate their own stories and cultures, just as the FIFO has enabled them to do so since 2004;
  • Help create, keep talent in our region, and promote them internationally;
  • Respond to the need for digital content that is authentic to Oceania created from trusted sources;
  • Multiply the opportunities for the creation of content;
  • Stimulate excellence;
  • Aid participation in the emergence or consolidation of the audiovisual and digital sectors;
  • Foster the creation of jobs;
  • Contribute to the economic development of our countries;
  • Increase regional and international visibility of Oceanian works and cultures,
  • And participate in the essential mobilisation in the fight against climate change. There is an urgent need to create this regional support fund.

FIFO 2020 celebrates the success of one of this years documentary producers, Chelsea Winstanley (Mereata Mita How Mum Decolonized the World) with her nomination for an Academy Award as the first Native woman producer to attain this achievement.

Oceania has the talent, drive and passion to tell our stories in our own voices – allow us the opportunity to be seen and heard or like the fabled Huia bird we will be lost and our voices forever silenced.

Laurent Corteel (France) Gonzague De la Bourdonnaye (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Patrick Durand Gaillard (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Anusha Duray (Australie) Luc de Saint Sernin (France) Whetu Fala (Nouvelle-Zélande) Bénédicte Gambay (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Guillaume Gérard (Wallis et Futuna) Fabrice Juste (Tahiti) Francis Herman (Vanuatu) Gérard Hoarau (Tahiti)

Walles Kotra (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Faisea Matafeo (Samoa) Mateata Maamaatuaiahutapu (Tahiti) Jeanne Matenga (Cook Island) Teva Pambrum (Wallis et Futuna) Samantha Reynaud (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Stephen Stehlin (Nouvelle-Zélande) Stella Taaroamea (Tahiti) Norbert Taofifenua (Wallis et Futuna) John Utanga (Nouvelle-Zélande) Ashley Vindin (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Miriama Bono (Tahiti)

Te Hokingā mai

I te wā i wehe ahau i te kaingā i ki atu tōku Mama ” Kāore te mana i tae i roto i te mera, āra, mā te iwi te mana.” This message, “Mana doesn’t come in the mail, it is given by the people” was a parting gift from my mother when I left home at 17 years of age, eager to lead my own life, full of the importance of a job promotion and the adventure of living in a new town.

I didn’t get it, mana could not be sent in the mail, that was an absurd notion! Besides, my teenage mind reasoned, what kind of person would our iwi want to bestow it on? I couldn’t name any All Blacks, Silver Ferns, Black Sticks, Kiwis, Nobel Prize winners, inductees into the Music Hall of fame from our iwi, people, I felt, were worthy of such distinction. I put it down to one of the many unfathomable sayings of our mother and left it at that.

Returning home almost forty years later and having the honour of working at AwaFM, I’m finally beginning to understand Mums’ words.  My love for iwi radio stems from 1987 and Te Upoko o te Ika Wellington NZ (The first Māori radio station in the world) when as a te reo student at Kuratini Wellington Polytechnic with Hiria Hape,  Lee Smith, Huirangi Waikerepuru,  Teariki Mei we trooped down to Te Upoko for site visits, mostly to cook kai and or prepare kai for manuhiri. Firstly at Wakefield Street premises then when it was pulled down, over at Lambton Quay and Willis Street corner. It was an exciting time for all Māori, we finally had Māori radio and television was the last frontier. I directed my first independent television documentary about Te Upoko o Te Ika in 1993 and that documentary screened on TV3 and was selected for screenings at Dreamspeakers Festival Canada, Message Sticks Sydney Film Festival and many other festivals. Little did we realise then that it would be 16 years later in 2004 before Māori Television channel would eventuate.

Working at AwaFM all these years later, everyday, in the interviews, stories given to us in iwi radio, we have the privilege of broadcasting our people from all areas of life from science to the arts, active promoters of whanau ora, tertiary study to competitors in sporting events. These stories and lives, may not garner recognition in a Queens Honour list or the starting line-up of an Olympic final, but they are proof positive that actively pursuing and attaining  mana enhancing pathways for life is the prize.

As tribal sound archivists in iwi radio,  we do our best to ensure these kōrero taongā, these treasures are available on the internet, in the cars, living rooms, offices, study rooms of Whanganui and a global network via online, 24/7 for all to access.

I te hokingā mai ki te kaingā i ki atu ahau ” He aha te kai ā te rangatira? He kōrero!”

Clockwise: Bottom 2019 March Kaunihera Kaumatua Whanganui, AwaFM Board, AwaFM station Top Left: Whanganui River Landguard Bluff 2019 Top Right: Te Upoko o te Ika celebrates 25 years 2013 Henare Kingi Te Reo Māori award.

Whetu Fala – Articles

Whetu Fala interviews, presenter roles, articles.

Megazap, French Polynesia Online News February 2020

Radio NZ Iwi Radio demand urgency February 2020

Catalogue Professionnel FIFO 2020

Radio Waatea NZ November 2019

Te Ao Māori News July 2019

Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School Pōwhiri New Intake 2019

NZ Film Heritage Trust Te Puna Ataata 2017

Tangata Pasifika 1993 Part three 1’16”

Ask Your Auntie 2007

NZ Film Commission Positively Pasifika Wellington Summer Cinema 2014

Films of our Lives Lecture Series, Waikato University NZ 2014

Ngā Aho Whakaari – Māori Screen Guild Fale Matariki 2013

Ngā Taongā Sound and Vision Film Archives 2015

Ngā Aho Whakaari Chairman, NZ Māori Screen Guild 2014

Te Matataua-o-te-Reo Pg 91 The Role of Māori Media in revitalisation 2015

Radio NZ Māori TV Workers 2015

Ministry of Culture and Heritage New Zealand

Knowledge and Engagement Pg 234 Kaupapa Māori Research Workshops 2016

Whakaata Māori – Matariki Awards 2016

FIAF Online Bulletin, Pg 19 Mōana Documentary Sceening NZ 2016

Ngā Aho Whakaari National Hui 2016

Divine Intervention, Mātaku TV series Review NZ 2002

Celebrating Māori Independence Film Festival 2001

Pacific Island Images Festival, ‘Mokopuna’ University of Manoa Hawaii 1994

POI E aka when Dal got his movie…..


POI E – the story of our song; the movie, brought to life the often tempestuous yet remarkable musical partnership of Dalvanius Prime and Ngoi Pewhairangi and their journey to the making of the  1984 hit pop song in New Zealand, POI E.

Their achievement in topping the NZ pop charts for four weeks with their Māori language only pop song in 1984 is yet to be duplicated or surpassed. Ngoi’s untimely death in 1986, sadly, ended their collaboration.

Spoiler alert – this is a Fun-tastic film for the whole family and if you want to see the movie, book now at Ticketek NZ and stop reading!

An impudent, funny, irreverent and a much used word but aptly so in this case, fabulous film that captures the spirit of two very different maestro.  Both with a passion for Māori language that transcended their differing tribal mita, maungā, awa and even gender.

POI E is an uplifting tale of what small town New Zealand, on the West and the East coast did in 1980’s after the main employers in their regions closed down.

Dalvanius, like the star performer that he was,  sets the tone and the pace of the film thanks to Kahi’s clever use of Dalvanius’s archival film and radio interviews.

Dal’s often painfully honest analysis of his own shortcomings, the obstacles he faced, is tempered by a superb supporting cast and chorus of those that loved, feared his sharp wit, adored and vilified him the most – his extended family, the tribe. Also on hand to keep the frame in focus is Connie Pewhairangi (Ngāti daughter of Ngoi with her granddaughter.

There are minor roles for NZ music’s elite, the angelic divas Director/Producers Moana Maniapoto, Hinewehi Mohi along with  Annie Crummer the evergreen Don McGlashan with Stan Walker, kicking the breeze with Director/Writer/Actor Taika Waititi but they are nothing in comparison to the lens of the whanau.

All however, serve to remind us that it is about the music.

And what glorious music this is, from  Ngois’ award winning number one hit song ‘E Ipo‘ sung by cabaret artist extrodinaire Prince Tui Teka and re-arranged by Dalvanius to the NZ dance anthem’Poi E‘ itself.

Director Tearepa Kahi like Dal, has dreamed big, taking on a four minute long historical New Zealand pop song and turning it into a feature length film, oi aue! As we would say in Taranaki mita or in more common parlance, ‘ yeah right.’

But this is good story telling. For those like our 12 and  9 year old nieces, who were in the whanau audience,  they watched the film all the way thru with no wriggling, no excessive eating and best of all no falling asleep. It seems the magic of POI E to capture the interest of the young is alive and well in 2016.

For te reo or Māori language – POI E and the issues they faced in 1984 with the dwindling numbers of fluent Māori speakers,  continue to plague us in 2016.

With a  predominately young, urban Māori populace with little access to 24/7 fluent Māori speaking communities, in the cities where most of us now live,  Maori language fluency is accessed by conscious, hard graft and determination.

In 2016, we’ve all gone back to the language revitalisation drawing board with a focus on ‘inter-generational transmission of language’ a flash way of saying if children are raised in Māori at home – our reo will survive.

Having a home is an equally important part of the Māori language revival equation. A turangawaewae, a place to stand and call your own, a home.

It was hard last night to remember that as we celebrated the success of the film POI E we were right there in Tamaki makau rau, the largest Māori city in the world,facing arguably the highest Māori homeless population that we have ever seen.

Maintaining Māori language communities when your home is a car, garage, park and you are trying to get food for children is a seemingly distant utopia.

For all those New Zealand cinephiles out there – is this the first time a Māori key creative team with a Māori story film have opened the oldest film festival in the land?

Dal was forever pitching John O’Shea (founder of NZ International Film Festival and producer) his feature film ideas especially Mokomokai –  and John would always refuse.

Last night, witnessing the standing ovation for POI E the movie as the opening night film at the NZ International Film Festival  I thought how happy and thrilled they both would have been!

Tearepa Kahi has skilfully crafted a movie of te reo, music and life in rural NZ that is destined to become a NZ cult classic. But you don’t have to think too hard, as it’s playful, entertaining and just like the music – all you have to do is dance!

Poi taku poi e!

Pictured Top clockwise L-R Ngoi Pewhairangi, Dalvanius Prime (1984) Poi E the movie opening night NZ International Film Festival, Maryanne Broughton (Original Patea Māori Club member) Janine Maruera (Manager, Patea Māori Club) opening night of POI E with photos of Ngoi and Dalvanius on the red carpet. Stills: Te Papatongarewa & Fala Media.
Poi E – the movie of our song.The opening night film of the 48th New Zealand International Film Festival, Civic Theatre, Auckland 15 July 2016. SOLD OUT.
Writer/Director/Co-editor/Executive Producer: Tearepa Kahi
Producers: Alexander Behse, Reikura Kahi
Line Producer: Callie Adams
1st Assistant Director: Neil James
Directors of Photography: Fred Renata, Jos Wheeler
Featuring: Dalvanius Prime, Ngoi Pewhairangi, Maryanne Broughton, Connie Pewhairangi, Barletta Prime, Bub Prime, Patea Māori Club members past and present, Pewhairangi whanau, Stan Walker, Taika Waititi. Re-enactments: Maaka Pohatu as Dalvanius