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As the country celebrates the latest Whale Rider success, one of the movie's original writers has started legal proceedings.

Liddy Holloway, an independent film and television writer, said her dispute with the Film Commission over scriptwriting concerns has led her to bring legal action against it in the High Court.

As one of the first scriptwriters for the movie, she said she spent long nights with author Witi Ihimaera putting together its first two drafts.

However, she claims the commission failed to ensure the fulfillment of her contract.

The former Shortland Street, City Life and Shark in the Park scriptwriter said the timing of her announcement had nothing to do with yesterday's news of the movie's lead actor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, being nominated for an Oscar.

"I'm speaking out because I found out on Tuesday the commission did not want to enter into mediation with me," she said. "I wanted to settle this quietly and discreetly."

The dispute arises from an agreement Ms Holloway had with the film's original producer, Endeavour Tucker, headed by John Barnett and the late Murray Newey, which is now deregistered.

Ms Holloway's lawyer, Karen Soich, said the agreement entitled Ms Holloway to a writer's credit and a percentage of the producer's net profit.

However, Tucker's rights to the film lapsed and were assigned to the commission, which then assigned the same rights to South Pacific Pictures.

Ms Soich says that in being assigned the rights from Tucker, the commission took on the "burdens and benefits" of those rights, which included properly dealing with Ms Holloway's contract.

Herald Feature: Whale Rider