Hollywood directors Ava DuVernay and Taika Waititi are to host a Mother's Day screening in Los Angeles of the documentary about the life and work of pioneering Māori filmmaker Merata Mita.

The LA screening will follow a series of Mother's Day screenings across New Zealand of Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, hosted by the filmmakers and Mita's whānau.

Screenings will take place in Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, Christchurch and Wellington on Sunday, May 12. Director Heperi Mita, son of Merata, will be joined by producers Chelsea Winstanley, Cliff Curtis and Tearapa Kahi, along with Merata's other children Awatea Mita and Richard and Rafer Rautjoki.

Following Wellington's screening, Mita, Winstanley and Curtis will fly to LA for the screening hosted by DuVernay and Waititi.


DuVernay, director of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, is distributing Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen in the US, UK and Canada under her company Array Releasing.

DuVernay became attached after the film had its international premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January.

Posting about the film on her Twitter account, DuVernay called Merata Mita an icon.

"Dear Fellow Women Filmmakers, Do you know who Merata Mita is? I didn't until last year," she wrote.

"She was the mother of indigenous cinema and an all-around warrior. @ARRAYNow is proud to release MERATA, a film about the life and work of an icon we should all know."

Merata had its first premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival this year. The film follows her journey as the first Māori woman to write and direct a feature film, Mauri, fighting against harassment and violence as she tackled issues of indigenous social justice in both documentary and fiction.

Merata Mita also made documentaries about the occupation at Bastion Point and the Springbok tour of 1981. She passed away in 2010.