After being fired from his first New Zealand film Under the Southern Cross in the late 1920s, American director Alexander Markey returned to make Hei Tiki. Following a sometimes tense shoot, mostly around Taupō, he departed Aotearoa, leaving badwill and fears he'd stolen a number of taonga in his wake. Inspired partly by Māori legend, Hei Tiki sank quickly when finally released in 1935. This documentary features extensive clips from the movie, plus interviews with surviving cast and crew — including co-star Ben Biddle, and pioneering cameraman Ted Coubray.
Was he a crook? Probably not; a romantic, with a dream of creation which got out of control. He attempted to produce a film in the period when cinema went through its biggest change ever, from the silent era to the talkies.– Narrator Martyn Sanderson
Phase Three Film Productions