Internationally acclaimed director Lee Tamahori’s first New Zealand film in 20 years, Mahana, will open in cinemas nationwide on March 3, 2016.
Mahana (previously The Patriarch) is an evocative family drama based on Whale Rider author Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha. Set in 1960’s rural New Zealand, two Māori sheep-shearing families, the Mahanas and the Poatas, battle for supremacy in the shearing sheds and in their own hearts. The youngest Mahana, 14-year-old Simeon, is troubled by the rivalry and begins to unravel the truth behind the longstanding feud.
Tamahori explains, “I wanted to do a film about the East Coast from this era and Witi is the person who has been telling these stories. I had always wanted to film one of his stories, so when Robin Scholes came along with the rights, it was a perfect fit. I wanted it to be a loving postcard to a period that I know very well.”
Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors) returns to the big screen to play Tamihana Mahana; the proud, traditionalist patriarch. Nancy Brunning (White Lies) is cast as his wife Ramona, and young newcomer Akuhata (Augs) Keefe was plucked from Tolaga Bay Area School to play Simeon. Jim Moriarty (The Strength of Water) stars as Tamihana’s arch-rival, Rupeni Poata.
A first-look still of the Mahana family has been released today.
Mahana reunites the team behind iconic Kiwi film Once Were Warriors including Tamahori, Morrison and Producer Robin Scholes.
“Mahana is very much a coming home for Lee,” says Scholes. “Lee’s exceptional talents as a filmmaker were evident in Once Were Warriors and from that moment on the offers flowed in for bigger and bigger budget films. It’s very rare for people to return, let alone to a film with a much lower budget than anything he’s done since Warriors. We have Witi to thank for this. His book really appealed to Lee because it’s about the people he knows and loves and wants to see portrayed in film”.
Mahana is funded by; New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand On Air, Māori Television, Entertainment One, Wild Bunch and private equity investors, including a selection of 200 individuals who put in funding via the Snowball Effect equity crowd funding platform, a first for a New Zealand feature film.
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Image: cast members (from left): Joshua Mahana (Regan Taylor); Huria Mahana (Maria Walker); Tamihana Mahana (Temuera Morrison); Simeon Mahana (Akuhata Keefe) and Ramona Mahana (Nancy Brunning)