Director, Writer [Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāpuhi]
Since completing a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Renae Maihi has become an acclaimed director and writer of theatre, starting with Ngā Manurere, starring Keisha Castle-Hughes. The NZ Herald called it the "surprise jewel" of 2009. Maihi went on to co-write short film Redemption, which was invited to the Berlin and Sundance film festivals, then directed her debut short Butterfly. The 2017 NZ International Film Festival features two of her films: the New York-shot short Mannahatta, and collaborative feature Waru, where she was part of a team of eight female directors.
Writing has always been a part of my life. It was never something that I started, rather something that naturally came to me as soon as I could hold a pen. Renae Maihi, in an interview with The Big Idea, 28 April 2010
For this 2017 feature film, eight Māori women each direct a 10 minute segment of events circling around the tangi of a child (Waru). Each director had a day and a single shot to capture their take on the context behind a tragedy. After its debut at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival, Waru won a rush of social media attention, and screened at the Toronto and imagineNATIVE festivals. The Hollywood Reporter praised it for bringing "a sense of dramatic, urgent realism to a story that plays out like a suspenseful mystery". Waru is produced by Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton.
Only in Aotearoa began as a 2015 webseries, one of the first fruits of a joint fund for Māori web content, created by organisations NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho. In 2017 it became a sketch comedy show on Māori Television. Hosted by multi-cultural comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro, the show satirises 21st Century Aotearoa life from a brown perspective. The cast includes Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune), Coco Solid (also a writer on the show), Tia Maipi (Born To Dance) and ex league player Wairangi Koopu. Only in Aotearoa was produced by company Kura Productions.
"This is me. This is my husband …" So narrates Evie as she watches her younger self labour with childbirth. "And this is the bitch who will one day steal him, and ruin my life." When the bitch is shown as an angelic six-year-old the tone is set for Katie Wolfe’s award-winning black comedy (her debut short as a director). Writer Kate McDermott’s wry narration moves between then and now, as fate delivers a less than wonderful life in Auckland suburbia. Selected for the Sundance Film Festival, This is Her was a breakout festival success, earning Wolfe notice as a filmmaker to watch.