Rotorua will be the proud host of the premiere of Cousins next week - A New Zealand film telling the powerful story of three cousins.
Cousins is a dramatic story of three cousins who spend a lifetime in search of each other, separated by circumstances yet connected by blood.
This film from book (written by Patricia Grace) to screen, conception to completion was initiated all by proud Māori wahine.
It was produced under Miss Conception Films which aims to showcase female stories with strong female leads.
Cousins' screenplay was adapted by Briar Grace-Smith (Waru, The Strength of Water), and the film is co-directed by Grace-Smith and Ainsley Gardiner (The Breaker Upperers, Boy).
The premiere is being hosted in Rotorua at Reading Cinema, on Wednesday, because of the strong ties the film has here.
There are Rotorua shooting locations that can be seen in the film, and casting was done here too - main and extras.
Producers Georgina Condor and Ainsley Gardiner say it feels amazing to have the premiere just around the corner.
Gardiner says it is always rewarding and that one of the coolest things when you make a film is going back to the community and showing it with them, so it was great to have the premiere in Rotorua.
"It was really a bonding experience and we are always aware of how lucky we are to do a job like this."
She says Cousins is such a dynamic novel that captures a number of issues, and this is one of few films you see just about all Māori women.
Condor says it is nerve-wracking premiering the film because you really hope the public enjoy it.
"We had such a lovely time in Rotorua, it was really special being there and filming in the community."
She says there was also amazing talent found in the area, with beautiful, talented children.
"It's such a timeless story. Themes in the story are just as relevant today and are universal themes."
She says it is a story about finding where you belong and how you fit in the world.
"It's incredibly special. I'm privileged to make a film like this and to be able to bring a film like Cousins to the screen.
"It was so exciting having really enthusiastic, passionate people ... hopefully people realise that this is something they can do."
Rotorua's Te Raukura Gray is the young Mata in the film, and says she enjoyed going to all the different scenes and travelling around the country.
"My most favourite part was going to Kerosene Creek and swimming in the warm water during the taniwha scene."
She says she was at school [Westbrook School] when she heard an announcement for all Māori girls aged between 6 to 10 to go to the hall and audition for this movie, and she thought it sounded like fun so gave it a go.
"This was my first time. I would love to do it again because it was an awesome experience and I learnt a lot about myself."
Kawerau's Keyahne Patrick Williams is the young Missy in the film, and says she enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends.
"I auditioned because I thought this was a cool opportunity and I like trying new things."
She says this was her first time taking part in something like this, and she absolutely enjoyed being a part of the film - "I would like to do this again".
Mata, Missy and Makareta. Three cousins. Three lives. Separate, yet bound
Orphaned Mata believes she has no whānau and lives out her lonely childhood in fear and
bewilderment. Back home on the land, educated Makareta flees an arranged marriage to
study law and begin the search for her missing cousin.
She leaves behind cheeky yet dutiful Missy who takes on her role of kaitiaki (guardian) of the land. As the years pass and land surveyors begin to encroach, their promise to bring their stolen cousin home seems more unlikely than ever, until a chance encounter changes everything.