The early life of Dame Whina Cooper, one of the most influential Māori leaders of the 20th century, is explored in the first episode of this two-part TVNZ profile. The inspirational leader of the 1975 Māori land march was born in Hokianga in 1897. She recalls her first protest at age 18, working with her people to improve their land (spurring them on with a whistle given to her by Sir Apirana Ngata) and becoming a pig breeder (with aid from Princess Te Puea). She also reminisces about a Tuhoe leader who gave new meaning to the idea of fiery oratory.
Dame Whina Cooper was one of the most influential Māori leaders of the 20th century. She spent most of her life fighting for land rights; and, in this episode from a two-part TVNZ profile, she explains the importance of the land to her people. The former Panguru storekeeper first came to national attention in 1951 when she established the Māori Women’s Welfare League. At age 80, she was back in the spotlight leading the Māori land march; her fire and determination are very much in evidence in a heated address to then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.
“When old and young come together to do this, it shows the strength of their convictions.” This film is a detailed chronicle of a key moment in the Māori renaissance: the 1975 land march led by then 79-year-old Whina Cooper. A coalition of Māori groups set out from the far north for Wellington, opposed to further loss of their land. This early Geoff Steven documentary includes interviews with many on the march, including Eva Rickard, Tama Poata and Whina Cooper. There is stirring evidence of Cooper’s oratory skills. Steven writes about making the film in the backgrounder.
Phillip Gordon began his screen career with 70s soap Close to Home, then won fame in the mid 80s with two different roles: playing conman Cyril Kidman in hit period comedy Came a Hot Friday, and starring in Wellington-set TV series Inside Straight. He went on to act on both sides of the Tasman.