Movie review: Poi E: The Story of our Song

By Siena Yates

Never have I sat in a movie theatre and felt more of a sense of pride than when I saw this film.

I had nothing to do with any of it, of course - I wasn't even alive when Poi E took over the world, but I've also never known a world without it.

I still remember going to The Establishment in Wellington one night and after hours of dub step, pop and hip-hop, I heard those all too familiar first cries of Poi E and the entire club lost its mind as a hundred uni students all shouted "Poi E!" (and mumbled the rest of the words).


I remember being on the Tube in London and someone humming the tune to Poi E and before we knew it every Kiwi expat on the train was singing along.

This is our song, the song of a nation.

And to see what went into it - how Dalvanius Prime fought to get it made, how they sat down and pulled an all-nighter to nut out the melody and the words, how he convinced the Patea Maori Club to actually do it despite the fact that no one liked it at first, how the video came together and how they threw in the synths and sound effects and recorded the vocals at the last minute.

It can't have been easy - but it also must have been a blast.

And to see the way people talk about it now is especially important. Taika Waititi reminisced about the song, Stan Walker learned about it and Connie Pewhairangi, daughter of Poi E co writer, Ngoi Pewhairangi, re-lived her memories while telling them to her moko.

That and Tearepa Kahi's treatment of the film is joyful, warm, artistic, and most importantly; distinctly Kiwi.


They call it a feel-good movie, but it's more than that. People laughed, cried, cheered, and even sang along and, at the end of it all, they shared their own memories of the song as they filed out of the theatre.

It's the perfect tribute to a song that is ingrained in this country's past, present and future, and generally just a really good time.

Poi E: The Story of our Song

Featuring: Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Maori Club, Taika Waititi, Stan Walker and fans of Poi E
Director: Tearepa Kahi
Running time: 96 mins
Rating: G (general audiences)
Verdict: The Kiwi feel-good movie of the year

- TimeOut

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