Set in the early 1900s, this feature follows a Māori medicine woman (played by singer Whirimako Black) who leaves Tūhoe country to for Auckland. There a Māori servant (Rachel House) enlists her to help a wealthy Pākehā woman (Westside’s Antonia Prebble) with a scandalous secret. Award-winning Mexican director Dana Rotberg adapted this tale of culture clash and deception from Witi Ihimaera's novella Medicine Woman. This opening excerpt sees Paraiti surviving a horrifying attack, before jumping to scenes shot at Ōpūtao Marae in Te Urewera. Both Black and Prebble won awards for their acting.
At the time, I didn’t even know anything at all about New Zealand. I was taken by the film in a very, very profound way, and I thought, ‘if I could choose where I want to live and where I want my daughter to grow up, I would choose that place’.– Director Dana Rotberg, on deciding to move to New Zealand the morning after seeing Whale Rider