The intimate and emotional story of a woman's journey to feed her family and soul, Wahine Warrior, is released generally this week as part of the Loaded Docs short documentaries season seven.

As a solo mum on welfare who had to decide between petrol to take her mokopuna to school or pay for groceries, Pania Tepaiho-Marsh dug deep and looked at other ways to put food on the table. She went back to the traditional hunter/gatherer model and learnt how to hunt.

Realising how much this could help others in her position, she created a Facebook page, Wahine Toa Hunter, and offered to teach other women to hunt at no charge. Over 3000 women responded.

As a solo mum on welfare who had to decide between petrol to take her mokopuna to school or pay for groceries, Pania Tepaiho-Marsh dug deep and looked at other ways to put food on the table.
As a solo mum on welfare who had to decide between petrol to take her mokopuna to school or pay for groceries, Pania Tepaiho-Marsh dug deep and looked at other ways to put food on the table.

Filmmaker Emma Calvey heard about Pania, and was determined to honour her story in film. Two years later, the eight minute documentary was made, directed by Emma, and produced by Nix Jacques (working remotely from Vanuatu).

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Pania says working with Emma and Nix was "A blessing to this kaupapa to have such strong-minded beautiful women who only wanted to tautoko the kaupapa and present it in its entirety. Those two women are now a huge part of the whakapapa of Wahine Toa Hunting."

The documentary was not an easy project. First they had to raise $2500 via the crowd-funding website Boosted.com to unlock further $6000 funding from Loading Docs. Eventually with support from other organisations including the Central Economic Development Agency, the "hugely small budget of $12,000 was raised", says producer Nix.

"It was enough to complement the free stuff we had to ask for. We used initiative and relationships to bring the rest together."

They were all ready to start filming just before level 4 lockdown started. It was eventually filmed over three days in May in the stunning backdrop of the Tararua Ranges behind Shannon, and Pohangina Valley.

"The stunning landscape is one of the main characters," says Nix.

The three-month delay in filming also caused some issues with director Emma Calvey who was by then "more pregnant at 32 weeks", but Nix says Emma was incredible and pulled it off.

Loading Docs producer Juliette Veber says working with Nix and Emma was fantastic.

"They are a dream team as an experienced filmmaker and producer."

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Juliette's focus is ensuring promising projects evolve from good ideas to critically acclaimed films.

Loading Docs is a unique initiative that produces a collection of eight-minute short documentaries each year - which captivate and inspire audiences locally and internationally - while developing and promoting New Zealand filmmaking talent.

Loading Docs' aim is to provide local documentary makers with a platform to promote their creativity and talent and to create work that inspires, pushes boundaries, and moves audiences. Loading Docs short documentaries have been watched by over 14 million people.

The complete Loading Docs season seven will be available on Loading Docs platforms from August 20. The award-winning short documentary initiative is this year unified by the theme of Revolution. 2020 is a turning point for humanity, challenging us to rethink the way we live, work and engage. It's time for a revolution.

Loading Docs is funded by NZ On Air with the support of the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho.