Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Poi E: The Story of Our Song 2016

Directed by Tearepa Kahi Big Nights

NZIFF 2016 opens with the World Premiere screenings of the Kiwi feel-good movie of the year: Tearepa Kahi’s richly researched celebration of Dalvanius Prime and the many rivers that flowed into the making of ‘Poi E’.

Jul 22
Sold Out

Embassy Theatre

Jul 25

Embassy Theatre

96 minutes DCP




Alexander Behse
Reikura Kahi
Tearepa Kahi


Tuteri Dal Rangihaeata


Fred Renata
Jos Wheeler


Tearepa Kahi
Francis Glenday


Dick Reade
Colleen Brennan


Dalvanius Prime
Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi
Pātea Māori Club
Barletta Prime
Taika Waititi
Stan Walker
the Topp Twins
Maaka Pōhatu

Declaration of interest

The staff and trustees of NZIFF congratulate fellow trustee Tearepa Kahi on his awesome film.

Tearepa Kahi will be in attendance at the first session

We open NZIFF 2016 with a joyful rendition of our national anthem – the one you can dance to. As irresistible as the song it celebrates, Tearepa Kahi’s documentary explores the many tributaries that flowed into the mash-up of pop music, traditional waiata and bop that first took New Zealand by storm in 1984.

Dalvanius Prime, the man who made it happen, enjoyed an international R&B career in the 70s. He returned from Sydney to Taranaki to nurse his dying mother and stayed to embrace his culture and Te Reo Māori. Collaboration with singer Prince Tui Teka led him to Māori language composer Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi. Together they composed ‘Poi E’: in this film you will hear the first ever recording, made soon after. 

Adding embellishments that did not please his co-composer but impressed her mokopuna, he persuaded his Taranaki whānau, the Patea Māori Club, to perform it. A man on a mission, chihuahuas under each arm, he pulled together a diverse and talented bunch of collaborators to record the song and crowdfund a brilliant music video that, amongst other things, captured the vitality and pride of his hometown facing hard times.

The film, told largely in Dalvanius’ own words, is brimful of music and frank and funny testimony from numerous participants in the song’s richly peopled history. Taking a lesson from the man himself, Kahi draws the next generation into the story, ably assisted by Taika Waititi, who provides Stan Walker, aged 25, with essential information about what life was like before ‘Poi E’.