"Mannahatta" by Renae Maihi is screening at NZIFF Ngā Whanaunga Maori Pasifika Shorts in Auckland (tomorrow) and then right across the country in the following months. We interview Renae Maihi in this first profile of the film makers who are part of Ngā Whanaunga 2017.
This is a year for a number of firsts at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Qianna Titore, director of "Natalie" is the youngest ever director (only 16 when she made her film) at NZIFF, and the first to still be in high school when her film screens at the fest.
With both "Mannahatta" and "Waru" premiering at NZIFF, Renae Maihi is the first ever Māori woman film to have two films screen in this festival in the same year. "Mannahatta" is also the first narrative short film to be made by a Māori film maker in New York City.
Renae made her new work whilst studying film in New York City. Renae is also one of the "Waru" directors whose film is also a potential world first in the fact that never before have such a group of indigenous women come together to make a singular feature film.
Renae is a focused and hardworking filmmaker who is committed to her craft, and I had the opportunity to chat with her on "Kōrero Kiriata" in the lead up to her film's New Zealand premiere in Auckland.
Leo Koziol: What inspired you to make a film in New York?
Renae Maihi: The story called to me as an indigenous woman and I knew I had to try my best to make it under tough conditions. I was not intimidated by the location at all - its just a different tree to shake out for resources and I'm use to having to do that.
LK: How excited are you to have two films in the NZ International Film Festival?
RM: I am so excited to be apart of the NZIFF once again but to have two films in the film festival is a real honour, particularly as a Maori woman filmmaker. These films would have not been possible if I was not offered the opportunity and support to make film. I hope to get more opportunities in the future & to premiere a feature film at the NZIFF one day soon.
LK: It is exciting to hear about your aspirations to be a feature film maker.
RM: Yes, I feel comfortable in long form storytelling - I have written 2 professional theatre play's as well as Directed in theatre so the idea of dealing with long narratives does not overwhelm me as its where I started.
I have some exciting projects in the pipeline which I'm focused on finding development funding for at the moment, one in particular that is a biopic about one of our greatest New Zealanders - I'll keep mum's the word on that one for now. I'm definitely ready to get started making feature films.
LK: Well that's inspiring to hear Renae, and thank you once again for coming on to kōrero on "Kōrero Kiriata" Radio Waatea every Thursday at 11 am.
Catch "Manahatta" along with six other inspiring Māori and Pasifika short films at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, 6 pm Saturday 22nd in Auckland.
When an ancient Native American spirit lost in an in-between world is seen by pizza worker Ivan he attempts to get a message across. But Ivan isn’t interested, he is on a one-week trial in this busy New York City pizzeria and cannot afford to lose the job. But some ghosts cannot rest until they are heard. Mannahatta - a compelling and at times humorous black & white short film about peace and understanding.
“Mannahatta was made as a final project for a two-month filmmaking intensive that I participated in towards the end of 2015 at the New York Film Academy. I wrote this screenplay because, as a Maori woman, a native person in my own country New Zealand, I felt the need to somehow acknowledge the forgotten ancestral tribes of Manhattan, New York City (NYC).
Another stand out thing for me during my time in NYC was the vast array of cultures who now called the place home. Whilst this is a wonderful thing I also had a real sense of the struggle & obstacles than new immigrants face when trying to make a place in a sometimes unaccepting environment.
I wanted to tell the story of two men who were experiencing isolation and loneliness in this city and who, through their coming together find a sense of peace, humanity & unity.”
- Renae Maihi
(Ngati Whakaue, Ngapuhi)
Renae Maihi is an award winning and critically acclaimed writer and director in theatre and film.
After completing a Drama degree in 2005 she went on to write her critically acclaimed debut play Nga Manurere, starring Keisha Castle-Hughes. NZ Herald Best of 2009 favoured Nga Manurere as the “surprise jewel of the year” and proclaimed: “More Maihi mahi please.”
The short film Redemption which she co-wrote with Tim Balme and Katie Wolfe travelled to Berlin Film Festival, Sundance and won the Best Short Film at Toronto’s Imaginative Film Festival 2010. Renae then went on to write and direct her NZFC funded and award winning short film Butterfly that she accompanied to various international film festivals in Toronto and Germany.
Her play PATUA won Renae the Adam NZ Playwrights award for Best Play by a Maori Playwright. In its debut season (directed by Renae), critics called Patua a “NZ Classic” and the NBR noted that it should be “Studied in every high school in NZ.”
2015 was a busy year for Renae: she directed the NZ On Air funded music video LOCKDOWN by Rezist before spending two months in New York City at NY Film Academy developing her filmmaking skills with the support of the NZ Film Commision and Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust. Whilst there she wrote and directed her most recent short film Mannahatta shot entirely on location in New York City. Mannahatta made its international film festival debut in October 2016 at imagineNATIVE Toronto.
In 2016 Renae was selected by BSAG Productions as one of eight Maori women directors for the “WARU” collaborative feature film project. Renae is currently one of the directors selected by DEGNZ for a female director focused incubator initiative., Renae, along with two other Directors, was selected by the NZFC for the one-year accelerator mentoring initiative which grants her direct mentorship with experienced directors and opportunities such as the MIFF accelerator program with the overall view of getting her to feature film level.
It is her ambition to begin her career as a feature film writer/director with her trilogy series “The White Feather Prophecies.”
WAIROA MAORI FILM AWARDS 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 3 2017:
The Wairoa Maori Film Awards were held on June 2 at the Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa. Here are the award winners:
T-TAHITI PRIZE - return trip to Tahiti to travel to the T-Tahiti Film Festival
Award to: TAMA by Jared Flitcroft & Jack O'Donnell
Moana Prize (Best Pasifika Short) decided by the Moana Jury
Award to: MARIA by Jeremiah Tauamiti
Whenua Prize (Māori Short) decided by the Whenua Jury
Award to: TAMA by Jared Flitcroft & Jack O'Donnell
Audience Award - Maori Short Film
Award to: TAMA by Jared Flitcroft & Jack O'Donnell
Audience Award - Maori Short Film - Actor
Award to: Eric Matthews as Tama, in TAMA by Jared Flitcroft & Jack O'Donnell
Audience Award -Maori Short Film - Actress
Award to: Aidee Walker, in LAUNDRY by Becs Arahanga
Mana Kainga Award - for a community making contribution to Maori film making
Award to: NATALIE - Qianna Titore & the Hokianga community
Te Wairoa Award - For Contribution to Media in Wairoa
Ratima Hauraki & Zach Stark
WMFF WIFT Mana Wahine Award
Award to: CHRISTINA ASHER
WMFF PIFT Mana Pasifika Award
Award to: CRAIG FASI of the Pollywood Film Festival
International Indigenous Award
Award to: FROM UP NORTH by Trudy Stewart, Janine Windolph & Noel Starblanket
Mana Wairoa Award - for contribution to the advancement of indigenous rights
Award to: LGBTQI+ AOTEAROA THEN & NOW by Teresa Wells & Qmunnity Gisborne Youth
MAY 15, 2017: Nuhaka, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Organisers of this year's Wairoa Maori Film Festival are proud to announce that Toni Huata will be the headline performer at the Wairoa Maori Film Awards in June.
From London jazz clubs to European arts festivals, Toni Huata's style and strength as a performer allows her to stand confidently in the Māori and non-Māori worlds.
Toni is a Māori songtress, actor, performer, director and producer whose talent allows her to perform at various music and dance festivals both nationally and around the world including support to The Neville Brothers (USA).
Toni has performed in London-UK, Basque, Spain, Holland, Germany, Canada, Hawaii, Rarotonga, Manila-Philippines, Palau, America Samoa, Solomon Islands, Australia, China, Hungary, Austria and Japan.
Her performances overseas have earned her praise:
"Toni brings forth sounds and feelings from the past, mixes it with today's international musical influences to present a sound for the future" -Tū Mai Magazine, NZ
"Aotearoa's very own Whitney Houston"- Cook Island News
"Maori Diva sings in London" - NZ News, UK
"Her stunning voice has been heard before but 'Te Māori e' is a visual and aural delight"
- Real Groovy, NZ
Constantly in demand, audiences are captivated as Toni adds to the allurement of our exotic shores making Maori language “sexy’”.– Tu Mai Magazine, NZ
Hailing from Hastings in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, Toni says she was surrounded by an eclectic array of influences including the Anglican Church, choir, tap dancing, musical theatre and Mäori cultural performance. She affiliates to Ngäti Kahungunu and Rongowhakaata tribes, and is also of Lebanese, German, Scandinavian and Irish decent.
Toni's music reflects her deep spiritual roots however vocals range from jazz to soul ballads, opera to haka. Toni graduated in music at Whitireia Polytechnic, than toured throughout NZ for four years in Jim Moriarty's Te Rakau Hua o Te Wao Tapu theatre company. Adding morestrings to her bow, Toni’s voice features in Peter Jackson’s King Kong and she performs in various theatre including her starring role as Hine-nui-te-Po in the NZ renowned aerial theatre production of ‘Maui – One Man against the Gods’, World of Wearable Arts, New Zealand festival etc.
“Toni Huata brings serene strength to Hine, and shows great focus and vocal control, by continuing to sing with effortless beauty, as she flies across the stage”. – Theatre review, NZ
Toni has a EP Kahungunu Maranga (2016) and FIVE award winning, chart topping solo albums, TOMOKIA (2014), HOPUKIA (2012), WHITI (2010), MAURI TO (2003) and TE MAORI E (2001) where she continues collaborate with producer Paddy Free and renowned composer, percussionist Gareth Farr (Rugby World Cup 2011 opening
ceremony music). Toni’s voice also featured in the Fan Fare music by Gareth Farr for all 48 RWC 2011 games as the teams entered the fields to play.
Toni is also a motivational speaker, vocal coach, stage craft tutor, event organizer and mother of two.
TICKETS TO THE AWARDS NIGHT
Tickets to the Awards Night are only $40 and can be purchased from Eventfinder.
15 MAY 2017: Nuhaka, Aotearoa, New Zealand
The Wairoa Maori Film Festival is announcing two new prizes for 2017. The Moana Award is for the best short film directed by a person of Pasifika descent. The Whenua Award is for the the best short film directed by a person of Maori descent.
The finalists for the Moana Award are:
LADY EVA by Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson and Hina Wong-Kalu (Hawaiian)
MARIA by Jay Tauamiti (Pasifika)
WAITING by Samuel Kami (Pasifika)
I HAVE CURLS by Maria Vai (Pasifika)
LET THE MOUNTAIN SPEAK by Vilsoni Hereniko (Pasifika)
RAIDED LOVE by Destiny Momoisea (Pasifika)
The finalists for the Whenua Award are:
POSSUM by Dave Whitehead (Maori)
LAUNDRY by Becs Arahanga (Maori)
NATALIE by Qianna Titore (Maori)
TAMA by Jared Flitcroft (Maori) and Jack O'Donnell (Non-Maori)
MANNAHATTA by Renae Maihi (Maori)
THE PROMISE OF PIHA by Hanelle Harris (Maori)
Each film is being previewed by members of the two juries, the Moana Jury and the Whenua Jury.
The Moana Award and the Whenua Award will be announced at the Wairoa Maori Film Awards on Saturday June 3, Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa.