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Hero image for The Legend of the Whanganui River

The Legend of the Whanganui River

Short Film (Full Length) – 1952

This documentary film tells the story of the Whanganui River. It recounts a Māori myth believing the river is the path carved by a god (Pukeonaki aka Mt Taranaki) in its journey from the volcanic plateau to the west coast. There is beautifully shot footage of Māori paddling a waka under tui-laden matai, and tourists cruising on steamers. In 1950 the NFU had become part of the Department of Tourism and Publicity (after accusations of political bias); and this film reflects the change, with a triumphant narrative of progress underpinning an often-bloody river history.

And the Earth Mother sends out her river, out into the western sea into the hands of the sea god Tangaroa, and the winds of the ocean take these waters to where sea meets sky, and gives them back to the heavens where dwells the Sky Father from whom these waters first came.
– From the film's narration


ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND REFERENCE – Reel No. 1 200,434, Reel No. 2 200,435
Source format – 35mm motion picture film