Te reo action movie The Dead Lands joins the short list of pre-Pākehā screen dramas. James Rolleston (Boy) plays Hongi, the son of a Māori chief. After the massacre of his tribe, he sets out into the forbidden Dead Lands, hoping to enlist the help of a legendary warrior (Crooked Earth's Lawrence Makoare). The Anglo-Kiwi co-production marked new screen territory for director Toa Fraser (No. 2) and writer Glenn Standring (Perfect Creature). After debuting at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, The Dead Lands topped the Kiwi box office and won three Moa awards. A Dead Lands TV series followed in 2020.
He has the right look, and the capacity with the Māori language. And he was physically capable for the role, which requires endurance. There's a lot of running and fighting in the movie...– Co-producer Tainui Stephens, on the casting of league star Wairangi Koopu
General Film Corporation