In tribute to the late Merata Mita, the New Zealand Film Archive presents a rare screening of her breathtaking documentary, fashioned from archival footage, detailing the construction of waka for the 1940 Waitangi centennial.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
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.