Mana Waka

Stills Collection, New Zealand Film Archive, Nga Kaitiaki O Nga Taonga Whitiahua
Stills Collection, New Zealand Film Archive, Nga Kaitiaki O Nga Taonga Whitiahua

“Kia mau ki ngā taonga ā ōu tātou tūpuna. Holdfast to the treasures of our ancestors.” — Te Puea Hērangi 

Director: Merata Mita
Year: 1937
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 85 mins

Screenplay: Merata Mita
Kaitiaki/Production: Te Puea Estate, Turangawaewae Marae
Photography: RGH Manley
Editor/Sound editor: Annie Collins
Film preservation/restoration: Ngā Kaitiaki Ō Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua The New Zealand Film Archive
Kai korero/Narrator: Tukuroirangi Morgan
Sound recordist: David Madigan
Sound mix: Chris Verbung, Mike Hedges

In Māori and English

B&W

Courtesy of Te Puea Estate
Proudly presented by The Film Archive

In the late 1930s Waikato leader Te Puea Hērangi held a dream to build seven waka taua for the 1940 centennial commemorations at Waitangi. By 1937 two waka had been commissioned and cameraman RGH Manley engaged to record their building for posterity. The original footage was not printed and remained untouched for almost 50 years, until 1983 when Ngā Kaitiaki Ō Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua The New Zealand Film Archive received permission from Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikāhu to begin work on the nitrate negatives. Repair and preservation took more than 350 hours and several years and in August 1989 work began to construct a new film. Merata Mita was appointed director and, with editor Annie Collins and Archive director Jonathan Dennis, moved to Turangawaewae Marae to edit it. Mita was informed by kaumatua who had witnessed the events and could provide clarity to and guidance in shaping the film. The result is this wondrous feature documentary which premiered at the Commonwealth Games Arts Festival at the Civic Theatre in 1990. — Diane Pivac, Lawrence Wharerau

Mana Waka under the direction of Merata Mita becomes the great gift envisaged by Te Puea Hērangi. Mana Waka is a powerful, beautiful and intensely aspiring film, a monument to hope. — Jonathan Dennis

This screening is an acknowledgement of the late Merata Mita and her contribution to New Zealand’s film heritage. This pristine new print has been made possible by the Saving Frames project, a partnership between the Film Archive, Park Road Post Production and the Government of New Zealand.