When she made Mauri, Merata Mita became the first Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic feature. Mauri (meaning life force), is loosely set around a love triangle and explores cultural tensions, identity, and changing ways of life in a dwindling East Coast town. As with Barry Barclay film Ngāti, Mauri played a key role in the burgeoning Māori screen industry. The crew numbered 33 Māori and 20 Pākehā, including interns from Hawkes Bay wānanga. Kiwi art icon Ralph Hotere was production designer; the cast included Zac Wallace (star of Utu) and Māori activist Eva Rickard.
It was a quietly satisfying moment to enter the theatre on the opening night of Mauri and see the pride of so many brown faces. I am very proud to have made something for us, so relentless and uncompromising, and for me it was another brief fulfilled.– Merata Mita in Deborah Shepard's 2000 book Reframing Women
Available to buy and rent from NZ Film On Demand
Made in association with the NZ Film Commission and Radio Hauraki
Musical director Hirini Melbourne
Original musc and performance by Amokura