An award-winning actor and protege of director Taika Waititi has been locked up over his failure to complete a Dunedin rehab programme.

As a 9-year-old, Rangituatata Maakotu Ngamoki won the gong for best performance in a short film at the 2003 New Zealand Film Awards for his role in Waititi's Two Cars, One Night.

Movie stardom beckoned.

But last week, at the Dunedin District Court, the now 23-year-old Bay of Plenty man was jailed for six months for breaching a sentence of intensive supervision by consuming alcohol when barred from doing so.


A Ngamoki family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the defendant had come to Dunedin to battle his addiction issues at residential rehabilitation facility Moana House.

He was supposed to be there for two years but lasted only six months. He was kicked out over two instances of drinking.

"Alcohol is his demon," the family member said.

"He feels that there's times when he can manage it but we know that's not the case."

The woman said Ngamoki, who also starred in a second Kiwi short film, The King Boys, was still keen to pursue a career in acting but had to conquer his vices first.

Industry heavyweights like Waititi still asked about him, she said, as did others, such as film producer Ainsley Gardiner.

Ngamoki's path to rehab began in December last year when he was sentenced in the Whakatane District Court on a charge of threatening to kill.

Counsel Cate Andersen said last week her client had been using alcohol and drugs before an incident during which he threatened people with a firearm.

The victims had rented a property on what Ngamoki claimed was his family land, the court heard.

Judge Louis Bidois sentenced him to two years' intensive supervision at the defendant's request and he began his stint at Moana House in February.

However, he slipped up when he was allowed out of the residence to work in a forestry gang.

He drank alcohol, a breach of the conditions of his sentence.

When he came before the Dunedin District Court in September because of that, Judge John Macdonald gave him another chance.

Last week, though, Ngamoki was back in court for an identical breach of the sentence.

Judge Macdonald said he had no doubt Judge Bidois would be disappointed with the outcome, just as he was.

"I really have no other option here," he said, before jailing the former actor.

Ms Andersen asked the judge not to impose release conditions that would further restrict Ngamoki once he left prison.

Judge Macdonald obliged, noting the man had spent a significant period at Moana House.

"I'd like to assume you've gained something from that period," he said.

"You're obviously a good worker ... but alcohol seems to be the risk area for you and that's something you need to be aware of."

Despite the time in rehab, Ngamoki's relative believed there was work to do before he was truly reformed.

"He has been on this pathway for 10 years; he needs more than a few months," she said.