Merata Mita created hard-hitting films designed to bring about social justice during some of the country's most historically divisive moments.
She earnt a reputation as a Māori pioneer globally, but also as a troublemaker at the time here in New Zealand.
Nine years after her death, her son Heperi, also known as Hepi, Mita has made a documentary about the legacy she left behind. It premiered in the Bay of Plenty over the weekend.
Using archived footage, the film followed the life of Maketū-born filmmaker Merata, who was the first and only Māori woman to write and direct a narrative feature film back in 1988.
After being tasked with going through loads of material from his mother's home, Hepi found footage that shared personal accounts of Merata's life and what inspired her to blaze the trail for many indigenous filmmakers.
The documentary was co-produced by Rotorua's Cliff Curtis.
Hepi used some of the footage to cut together for a video tribute at her unveiling, which sparked Curtis to ask Hepi if he would make a feature documentary film, that Curtis would finance.
Curtis previously told the Rotorua Daily Post "that was the beginning of a five-year journey. You have to get it right. This is a labour of love and a work of passion and obsession and nobody is making money.
"She helped paved the way because you can be from Maketū, you can be from Te Arawa you can be a Māori from here and you can have a career internationally because she was the living proof of that."
Merata's political films highlighted the injustices for Māori people during the 1980s and often left the country divided.
Mita's groundbreaking documentaries include Bastion Point: Day 507 which in turn saw the return of land to the rightful owners, as well as Patu!, the political documentary on the 1981 South African rugby tour.
Merata Mita grew up in the Bay of Plenty town of Maketū, the third eldest of nine children.
Through documentaries, interviews and her feature film Mauri, she was a passionate voice for Māori.
Merata worked all around the world and for organisations such as the BBC and National Geographic and even directed on Hollywood sets.
The Tauranga Premier of Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen is currently on at Rialto Tauranga and Rotorua's Reading cinemas and played yesterday on Mother's Day.