Tolaga teen cast in Tamahori's film

Youngster plucked from obscurity.

Youngster plucked from obscurity.

A first glimpse of the Mahana whanau (from left) Joshua (Regan Taylor), Huria (Maria Walker), Tamihana (Temuera Morrison), Simeon (Akuhata Keefe) and Ramona (Nancy Brunning).
Tolaga Bay teen Akuhata "Augs" Keefe in a scene from Lee Tamahori's new film, Mahana.

IT may not have been filmed on the East Coast but it has a definite Coastie flavour . . . a Tolaga Bay Area School student has been plucked from obscurity to play a key role in a major Kiwi film.

Akuhata “Augs” Keefe plays central character Simeon Mahana in internationally acclaimed director Lee Tamahori’s first New Zealand film in 20 years, which wrapped shooting in May and will open in cinemas nationwide on March 3, 2016.

Made under the name The Patriarch but now retitled Mahana, the film is an evocative family drama based on former Gisborne writer Witi Ihimaera’s 1994 novel, Bulibasha: King Of The Gypsies. It is set in 1960s rural New Zealand and focuses on two Maori sheep-shearing families, the Mahanas and the Poatas, as they 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.

“I wanted to do a film about the East Coast from this era and Witi is the person who has been telling these stories,” says Tamahori (Ngati Porou), who divides his time between the United States and his East Coast farm. “I had always wanted to film one of his stories, so when (producer) 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.”

In Tamahori’s film, Temuera Morrison (who he worked with on 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 Jim Moriarty (The Strength Of Water) stars as Tamihana’s arch-rival, Rupeni Poata. In Tamahori, Morrison and Scholes, Mahana reunites the team behind iconic Kiwi film Once Were Warriors.

“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”.

IT may not have been filmed on the East Coast but it has a definite Coastie flavour . . . a Tolaga Bay Area School student has been plucked from obscurity to play a key role in a major Kiwi film.

Akuhata “Augs” Keefe plays central character Simeon Mahana in internationally acclaimed director Lee Tamahori’s first New Zealand film in 20 years, which wrapped shooting in May and will open in cinemas nationwide on March 3, 2016.

Made under the name The Patriarch but now retitled Mahana, the film is an evocative family drama based on former Gisborne writer Witi Ihimaera’s 1994 novel, Bulibasha: King Of The Gypsies. It is set in 1960s rural New Zealand and focuses on two Maori sheep-shearing families, the Mahanas and the Poatas, as they 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.

“I wanted to do a film about the East Coast from this era and Witi is the person who has been telling these stories,” says Tamahori (Ngati Porou), who divides his time between the United States and his East Coast farm. “I had always wanted to film one of his stories, so when (producer) 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.”

In Tamahori’s film, Temuera Morrison (who he worked with on 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 Jim Moriarty (The Strength Of Water) stars as Tamihana’s arch-rival, Rupeni Poata. In Tamahori, Morrison and Scholes, Mahana reunites the team behind iconic Kiwi film Once Were Warriors.

“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”.

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Marilyn Johnston - 3 years ago
Magestic landscape! And beautiful people, the Maori. The scene with grandmother saying goodbye to her bees was the most poetically filmed bit of cinema I have ever seen. Congratulations! I hope you win the Golden Bear!

Jan Mossman - 3 years ago
An amazing, deep meaningful movie reflecting our history! Huge congrats to the talented Ngati Porou crowd and the wonderful, awesome-looking actors and the back-up crew, including the Onewheros and Glen Murrays. Sohhh proud ..world class . .. you people rock!!!

Tony - 1 year ago
Why don't you Hannibal go back home to the island

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