This 1988 film details a mission by 100 men to paddle a huge waka taua (war canoe) from Waitangi to Whangaroa, chronicling their spiritual and physical journey en route. The camera takes in training, the gruelling 10 hour, 70 kilometre passage, and the vessel's arrival in Whangaroa Harbour to mark Whangaroa County’s centennial. The waka, Ngātokimatawhaorua, was named after Kupe’s original ocean-voyaging canoe. Beached at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, it is the largest waka in existence. This was veteran filmmaker Tainui Stephens' first documentary as a director.
In 2001 Meng Foon was the only serving New Zealand mayor to speak fluent Māori and Cantonese — and that was still the case when this documentary was made in 2013. Foon campaigns for a fifth term as mayor of Gisborne, appearing on local radio shows, door knocking and travelling long distances to connect with locals in small towns. Foon and his family talk about their Chinese heritage, and Foon reveals a lesser-known musical talent. Foon cultivated a deep relationship with the large Māori community in the Tairāwhiti district. In 2019 he resigned after 18 years as mayor.
The Patea Māori Club whare was in desperate need of repair when the Marae DIY team stopped by to give it a revamp. The catch — there’s only four days to do it. The renovations are given a personal note as the show’s regular builder Hare Annef is a Patea local. Also lending a hand are soldiers from the nearby School of Military Engineering. The pressure builds as mid-construction changes are made to the plans, while elsewhere local kuia reflect on the storied history of the club. As the clock ticks down, the race is on to finish, lest the iconic club go without a whare.
A visit to the set of Geoff Murphy film The Quiet Earth motivated Karen Sidney to work in the screen industry. One of her first jobs was in the art department for 1985 miniseries Heart of the High Country. She went on to join a filmmaking course run by Ngāti director Barry Barclay, then moved into documentary, producing A Whale's Tale. She also wrote award-winning Cliff Curtis drama Kahu & Maia. In 2002 Sidney helped develop Aroha, a series of love stories in te reo. She also co-produced, and wrote episode Mataora. Sidney has spent time lecturing in film studies in Whangarei, and working at Creative Northland.
A veteran figure in Māori broadcasting, Waihoroi Shortland has also been an actor (Rain of the Children, Boy), scriptwriter (Crooked Earth) and Māori advisor (The Piano). In 2003 he won the NZ Film Award for Best Actor, after playing Shylock in movie The Māori Merchant of Venice. In 2015 he became the first chair of Te Mātāwai, the organisation charged with revitalising te reo on behalf of Māori.