Maori Boy Genius

“An inspiring look at the education and training of charismatic, articulate 16-year-old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti.” — Alissa Simon, Variety

Year: 2012
Running time: 84 mins

Producer: Pietra Brettkelly
Executive producers: Joanna Paul, Jennifer Fox, Michael Haslund-Christensen,
Vicki Jackways
Photography: Jacob Bryant
Editor: Molly Malene Stensgaard
Sound: Dick Reade
Music: Anika Moa
In English and Māori, with English subtitles

With: Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, Maakarita Paku, Adrian Davis, Mike Paku, Janet Paku, Dean William Whobrey, Riwai Rangihuna, Daniel Pikari

Festivals: Berlin 2012

Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, 16 years old at the time of filming, is a charismatic young man through whom a great many aspirations flow. Born under a double rainbow, he’s carried a weight of expectation ever since – and with it a wealth of iwi pride and support. Steeped in Māori culture and political struggle, he has an avid appetite for political philosophy, and the hope that he might grow into a leader is not one he’s ever ducked. In her first documentary feature to address a New Zealand subject (but not her first to garner international attention), Auckland filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly (The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins) accompanies him through a critical turning point in his education. Chaperoned by his father, Ngaa Rauuira travels to Yale where he is enrolled in intensive political science seminars. In a world away from the wider whānau, he encounters more daunting challenges and choices than have been thrown in his path before. The film we are screening incorporates material seen in the one-hour documentary commissioned and broadcast last year by Māori Television. — BG

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