This National Film Unit-made documentary records the 18-month-long building process of a waka taua (war canoe): from the felling of the trees — opening with an awe-inspiring shot of the giant totara selected by master carver Piri Poutapu — to the ceremonial launch. The waka was commissioned by Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and built at Turangawaewae Marae. The Harry Dansey-narrated film was significant in showing the currency of the canoe-building kaupapa alongside the everyday lives (at the freezing works, the pub) of the builders.
To learn is to respect, to participate in a heritage. So let us take this canoe as a symbol of collective spirit.– Narrator Harry Dansey