You are here:





0 MB


0 MB

Clips (3)

  1. Part one of two from this full length documentary.

  2. Part two of two from this full length documentary.


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.

Credits (8)

 Harry Dansey
 David Sims
 David H Fowler

Post a comment

I am:

Please keep your comments relevant to this title. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Comments (2)

 whirotangi poutapu

whirotangi poutapu

Thank you for providing this, I never thought Id be able to watch it on my couch at home! seeing all the old faces and knowing that all but a few have since passed on brings tears to my eyes and laughter at the same time. nga mihi nui

 Melinda Pryor

Melinda Pryor

Thank you so much for this. My Papa, Dick Green is on here, he was one of the carvers. Such a wonderful documentary and something I can share with my son. How can I get this documentary?


You need to be logged in to add to your favourites.

Related Titles (10)

 Tangata Whenua - Waikato

Television, 1974 (Full Length)

Another landmark film featuring Poupatu and the Māori Queen

 Waka - The Awakening Dream

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

Waka building, for the 150th Treaty signing anniversary

 Taua - War Party

Short Film, 2007 (Full Length)

An award-winning short with pre-Pākehā waka taua

 Tangi for Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu

Television, 2006 (Excerpts)

Funeral for Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu

 Our World: The Best Kept Secret - Whirinaki Forest

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

More giant totara

 Kupe - Voyaging by the Stars

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

Trans-Pacific waka

 New Zealand Mirror No. 3

Short Film, 1950 (Full Length and Full Length Episode)

More waka on the Waikato

 Te Hono Ki Aotearoa

Film, 2012 (Full Length)

Another waka in the making

 Māori Arts & Culture No. 1 - Carving & Decoration

Television, 1962 (Full Length)

Another NFU doco featuring Māori carving


Short Film, 1981 (Full Length)

A short NFU survey of contemporary Māoridom

Collections.   See all collections ›  

Included in:

 The Matariki Collection


To learn is to respect, to participate in a heritage. So let us take this canoe as a symbol of collective spirit. 
Probably the first National Film Unit film to pass beyond the Integration Myth and begin an overt dichotomizing of Māori and Pākehā cultures. 
That sense of belonging, when your ancestors are present, and being proud of a civilisation which for the Māori leads back beyond the great ocean migration from Hawaiiki and beyond.