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The first fiction feature by renowned documentary filmmaker Merata Mita is a raw drama about a Maori man on the run from the law who finds shelter and solace in a small Indigenous community.
The first fiction feature from prominent New Zealand documentarian Merata Mita, Mauri (which means "life force") is a raw drama about Rewi Rapana (Anzac Wallace), a Maori man on the run from the law who finds refuge in a small community. He's befriended by the elderly Kara (played by Maori activist Eva Rickard) and Ramari (Susan D. Ramari Paul), a young woman who quickly develops feelings for him, despite her desire to marry a Pākehā (European). Overlaying a familiar tale of redemption with a more diffuse narrative structure derived from the oral tradition of Maori storytelling, Mita creates an intriguing, deeply felt allegory for the changing nature of Maori identity in the modern world; the film also marks a milestone as the first feature written, directed and produced by a Maori woman, and as one of the signal works of the incipient Indigenous New Wave.