Tradition challenged in Mahana movie (+video)

By Shauni James

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Rotorua actor Temuera Morrison says everyone will want to go and shear a sheep after his new movie, Mahana, comes out today.

Speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday, he joked the city's tourist attraction The Agrodome might need to be made bigger.

"We're going to have to make the Agrodome bigger after people see this movie. Everyone's going to go out there and shear a sheep."

The movie tells the story of two Maori sheep-shearing families who are longstanding enemies and commercial rivals, the Mahanas and the Poatas.

Watch Mahana trailer here.

Simeon Mahana, 14, is in conflict with his traditionalist grandfather, Tamihana Mahana (Mr Morrison), and as he unravels the truth behind the longstanding vendetta he risks his future prospects and the cohesion of the entire tight-knit society.

Mr Morrison said it was "wonderful" shooting a film set in rural early 1960s of the East Coast, and he vaguely remembered some of that time, since he was born in 1960.

Actor Akuhata Keefe talks about his new movie Mahana. Photo/Ben Fraser
Actor Akuhata Keefe talks about his new movie Mahana. Photo/Ben Fraser


He said it had been quite challenging as a period piece because all aspects, such as the costuming and arts, had to reflect it, and you could not have any kind of modern machinery in the background. He said it is one of those movies where people should make a special effort to see it on the big screen.

"I think our best work comes from our own soil, our own land, our own stories."

Mahana is 15-year-old Akuhata Keefe's first film, having been 14 when he played the part of Simeon Mahana.

He said it had been a good experience and "it was pretty weird seeing myself speaking Maori up there, and even just hearing some Maori language on screen it was cool, it was good".

The movie, directed by Lee Tamahori who also directed the film that made Mr Morrison internationally famous Once Were Warriors, is based on the novel Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera, author of The Whale Rider.

Mr Morrison said it was a very rich and textured story from that time, which also showed the importance of wool as the major export and interweaves a love story.

He praised the work of local actress Tuhiwhakauraoterangi Wallace-Ihakara who played the role of Hope Mahana, saying she put in a beautiful performance.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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