A Far North duo hope a short film they are making will raise awareness of the damage caused by commercial fishing - and help revive interest in traditional Maori fishing practices.

Jason Taylor, of Kerikeri, and Adam Hogg, of Russell, are preparing to shoot The Turning Tide at Piapia Beach north of Matauri Bay. The pair want to keep the movie local so cast the lead actors, by somewhat unorthodox methods, from the community where filming is taking place.

Mr Taylor said they were scouting locations when a dirt bike shot past with two boys on it. They knew instantly they wanted the 15-year-old rider, Donald Morgan from Wainui Bay, for their film. He then enlisted his friend Keenan Rush, 14, from Whangaroa.

Mr Hogg, the producer and cameraman, said the boys were naturals.


"We knew straight away these two kids had a special chemistry and could take direction easily. They had undeniable talent," he said.

Keenan said the film followed two boys as they went out one day to get food for the whanau.

"They go to their ancestral fishing ground but something isn't right, they're not catching anything. When they go back to shore they find dead fish floating in the bay."

Donald said the aim was to raise awareness of the harm caused by commercial fishing practices such as fish dumping. Both had learnt about biodiversity at Whangaroa College so the ideas in the film were not new to them.

What was new was acting, improvisation and getting used to having a camera centimetres from their faces.

Mr Taylor, a primary school teacher with an acting background, is the writer and director.

"We thought this would be a good platform for raising awareness about the current state of fishing practices, behaviour and attitudes, and to share the traditional fishing practices of Maori," he said.

The completed film will be about 10 minutes long. They are rehearsing one day a week after school and will hold a six-day workshop and build the props later this month. Filming is due to take place in April in the old Wainui Native School, now a community centre, and at Piapia Beach.

They hope to take the completed film on a Northland tour and enter it in the upcoming Maori short films festival in Wairoa.

- The project has received $2200 from Creative New Zealand but Mr Taylor said they still needed a sound recordist and a film editor to get the film to a standard fit for festival submission. The pair had launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the $5000 needed. Go to www.boosted.org.nz/projects/the-turning-tide or check out their Facebook page, The Turning Tide.