First Look at New Maori Action Feature ‘Ka Whawhai Tonu’

The new action-adventure drama KA WHAWHAI TONU has hit the worldwide market at Cannes. It is written by DEGANZ member Tim Worrall and edited by DEGANZ Board Member Te Rurehe Paki.

Set in Aotearoa in 1864, the film reveals the story of a crucial battle in the land wars between Māori and Colonial forces. With impossible odds between the armies, it shows courage and heroism from the Indigenous people. The historical drama, filmed in Te Reo Māori, follows two teenagers forced to make adult decisions and take hold of their destinies.

The film introduces young actors Paku Fernandez and Hinerangi Harawira-Nicholas in the lead roles. It also stars Temuera Morrison (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngati Maniapoto), Cliff Curtis (Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao), and Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class).

NZFC’s He Pounamu Te Reo Māori Feature Fund Initiative, New Zealand on Air, and Te Māngai Pāho provided funding for the feature. Tim also received assistance from the Sundance Native Lab.

KA WHAWHAI TONU is set to release on Matariki Weekend in 2024. This release corresponds with the 160th anniversary since Chief Rewi Maniapoto refused to surrender and proclaimed, 

E hoa, ka whawhai tonu mātou, Āke! Āke! Āke! (Friend, we will fight on forever, forever and forever!).

This famous phrase still leads to calls for sovereignty today. 

As Tim said to The Hollywood Reporter

It has been a great privilege to be part of telling this story to honour our courageous ancestors who fought and died to ensure that we survived.

Last updated on 22 May 2023