Rena Owen

[Ngāti Hine, Ngā Puhi]

Rena Owen made her name playing courageous battered wife Beth Heke, in landmark film Once Were Warriors. The film won her a run of awards, and international acclaim from Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue. Owen has gone before the cameras in Australia, Fiji, Hungary and the United States. 

Interview

Rena Owen: Being Beth Heke...

Interview - Clare O'Leary. Camera and Editing - Leo Guerchmann

Actor Rena Owen found fame through her role as matriarch Beth Heke in hard-hitting feature film Once Were Warriors. She went on to spend two decades years in Los Angeles, though she returned to New Zealand to act in Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children and Fiona Samuel's TV movie Piece of My Heart.

Collection

The Temuera Morrison Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

He learnt kapa haka as a child. He learnt to smoulder on Shortland Street. He punched a country in the guts with Once Were Warriors. Temuera Morrison has starred in Māori westerns, adventure romps, and cannibal comedies. In the backgrounder to this special collection, NZ On Screen editor Ian Pryor traces Temuera Morrison's journey from haka to Hollywood.

Series

All Talk with Anika Moa

Television, 2016–2017

After showing she could definitely generate a headline from an interview (when she quizzed Bachelor winner Art Green on matters sexual, in a 2015 NZ Herald web series) Anika Moa got her own chat show on Māori Television in 2016. The couch interview format saw Moa interview guests and review media in her trademark candid style, from actors Cliff Curtis and Lucy Lawless to politician Chloe Swarbrick. Eleven 30-minute episodes were made for series one; a second series began in 2017. The series won praise for its fresh (non white male) perspective. 

Frontline - Kiwis Cannes Do

Television, 1994 (Full Length)

The 1994 Cannes Film Festival turned out to be a very good year for New Zealand: a little movie called Once Were Warriors began its rise to glory, and some even smaller films did big things. Frontline reporter Ross Stevens was in France to capture the action — from impressed reactions to Warriors, to the 'film is a business' talk of NZ Film Commission chair Phil Pryke. Director Grant Lahood's short film Lemming Aid comes second in the official competition, and the festival screens a special season of Kiwi shorts — only the second such event in Cannes history.

NZ Film Commission turns 40 - Past Memories

Web, 2018 (Excerpts)

In these short clips from our ScreenTalk interviews, directors, actors and others share their memories of classic films, as we mark 40 years of the NZ Film Commission.   - Roger Donaldson on odd Sleeping Dogs phone calls - David Blyth on Angel Mine being ahead of its time - Kelly Johnson on acting in Goodbye Pork Pie - Roger Donaldson on Smash Palace - Geoff Murphy on Utu's scale  - Ian Mune on making Came a Hot Friday - Vincent Ward on early film exploits - Tom Scott on writing Footrot Flats with Murray Ball  - Greg Johnson on acting in End of the Golden Weather - Rena Owen on Once Were Warriors  - Melanie Lynskey on auditioning for Heavenly Creatures - Ngila Dickson on The Lord of the Rings - Niki Caro on missing Whale Rider's success - Antony Starr on Anthony Hopkins - Oscar Kightley on Sione's Wedding - Tammy Davis on Black Sheep - Leanne Pooley on the Topp Twins - Taika Waititi on napping at the Oscars - Cliff Curtis on The Dark Horse - Cohen Holloway on his Wilderpeople stars

Beth's World

Television, 1997 (Full Length)

Lee Tamahori's searing drama Once Were Warriors made Rena Owen a household name in New Zealand. The 1994 film's depiction of domestic violence within a Māori family left cinema goers shaken, and Owen's performance as the resolute Beth Heke made her career. In this documentary, Owen visits Māori women and men whose lives have been marred by family violence. Men who, with the help of organisations like Homai Te Rongopai Trust, are facing their abusive past, and women rape and abuse survivors who are finding new strength in their Māoritanga.

The Dead Lands

Film, 2014 (Trailer)

Action movie The Dead Lands joins the short list of screen tales set in Aotearoa, before the pākehā. James Rolleston (star of Boy) plays Hongi, the son of a Māori chief. After the massacre of his tribe, Hongi sets out into the forbidden Dead Lands, hoping to enlist the help of a legendary warrior (Lawrence Makoare). The Anglo-Kiwi co-production marked new screen territory for director Toa Fraser (No. 2) and writer Glenn Standring (fantasy Perfect Creature). After debuting at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, The Dead Lands topped the Kiwi box office and won three Moa awards.

Series

Shortland Street

Television, 1992–ongoing

Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.

Aroha - Mataora

Television, 2002 (Full Length Episode)

When traumatised soldier Matiu returns from service overseas, he struggles to reconnect with his wife and children. In this episode of te reo series Aroha, the marriage between Matiu (Te Kauri Wihongi) and Wai (Rena Owen) mirrors the Māori legend of Niwareka and Mataora, a union between spiritual and earthly worlds. Matiu decides to seek out his ghosts; he symbolises his reunion with his family through a facial tā moko performed by his father-in-law (Wi Kuki Kaa). Mataroa was written by Aroha co-creator Karen Sidney. It won an award at Canadian festival ImagineNATIVE.