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Television (Full Length) – 1991

This dramatised documentary looks back to 1955, when a female bottlenose dolphin began appearing regularly in Hokianga Harbour, close to the town of Opononi. Opo became a national celebrity, but died in controversial circumstances on 9 March 1956, the suspected victim of bombing by local fisherman. Directed by Steve La Hood (Numero Bruno, Swimming Lessons), the film recreates events of the summer and explores the belief of local Māori that Opo was a messenger sent by Kupe to unite the people. It includes interviews and extensive archival footage of Opo.

He was just a big smooth, friendly thing that sort of swam with us. I remember him feeling cool and firm, and not slimy...like a good quality beach toy.
– An interviewee who rode on Opo's back as a young girl

Produced by

Miranda Productions


Made with funding from NZ On Air, in association with the Short Film Fund of the NZ Film Commission and Television New Zealand