Porirua film-maker begins shooting documentary on 'iconic haka'

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE: Wiremu Grace at home in Titahi Bay. He hopes to film locally as much as possible for his new documentary on the origins of the iconic haka Kamate, Kamate.
Esther Lauaki
LOCAL PERSPECTIVE: Wiremu Grace at home in Titahi Bay. He hopes to film locally as much as possible for his new documentary on the origins of the iconic haka Kamate, Kamate.

It's "the iconic haka", the identity of New Zealand, and a way the Kiwis identify themselves when they're overseas, says one Titahi Bay film-maker.

Wiremu Grace's latest project, Kamate!, is a documentary he says will give a local perspective on the nation's battle cry.

Grace floated the idea with Ngati Toa over a year ago when he returned from a five-month film lab at the Binger Film Institute in Amsterdam.

"This is the story of where the haka came from and then how it became the haka that it is now, the controversy that has surrounded it, the rugby and the history.

"I'm Ngati Toa so it's a documentary about Ngati Toa's perspective of the haka. I think it's very important that these sorts of stories are told by iwi members, because others won't know how to approach it. It is appropriate that someone from the iwi tells the haka story and it's one that needs to be told because it's one that hasn't come from us before."

Grace, son of Plimmerton novelist Patricia Grace, has been writing and directing for about 10 years. He says Kamate! will be his biggest project yet.

The crew heads to Turangi next month, where Te Rauparaha found refuge when he was chased by the Ngati Maru in 1818. When he emerged from his hiding place he is said to have proclaimed his famous haka: Kamate, Kamate.

"We want to get the Tuwharetoa iwi's side of the story in there as well. We'll be travelling all over the world to get different people's perspectives into this documentary."

Grace says he is keen to keep much of the filming local and wants to cast the lead role of Te Rauparaha - for the re-enactment scenes - at a hui in March at Hongoeka marae.

"It's the role that many people will know and want. I wanted to find a male lead [preferably] from Ngati Toa to take it on. I want as much Ngati Toa involvement as possible."

Kamate! will screen on Maori Television in October. For more of Grace's work, visit: mymovies.co.nz.

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