Announcing the award winners at Māoriland Film Festival 2022

From 29 June to 3 July, over 100 films from 132 Indigenous nations were screened at the ninth Māoriland Film Festival.

At the closing night’s Red Carpet event, the five award winning films were announced. The films were chosen by audience vote and received cash prizes from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Māoriland Film Festival 2022 prize winners are:

‘Tōtara’ Best Feature Film:

Whina – Dirs. Paula Whetu Jones, James Napier Robertson (Aotearoa)

The story of Dame Whina Cooper, the beloved matriarch who worked tirelessly to improve the rights of her people, especially women. Flawed yet resilient, Whina tells the story of a woman formed by tradition, compelled by innovation, and guided by an instinct for equality and justice whose legacy as the Te Whaea o te Motu (Mother of the Nation) was an inspiration to an entire country.

‘Rimu’ Best Feature Documentary:

Whetū Mārama: Bright Star – Dirs. Toby Mills, Aileen O’Sullivan (Aotearoa)

What Sir Edmund Hillary did in conquering Everest, Sir Hekenukumai Busby has done in reclaiming the lost art of traditional Māori voyaging, sailing the vast Pacific navigating by the stars – restoring the past to carve our way into the future.

Whetū Mārama – Bright Star is the story of Sir Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi, aka Hek Busby, and his significance for Māori in rekindling their wayfinding DNA and for all New Zealanders in reclaiming our place as traditional star voyages on the world map.

‘Māhuri’ Best Short Drama:

Hawaiian Soul – Dir. ‘Āina Paikai (Kanaka Maoli)

Amidst the 1970s native rights movement, George Helm, a Hawaiian activist and musician must gain the support of kupuna (community elders) from Maui to aid in the fight of protecting the precious neighboring island of Kaho’olawe from military bombing.

‘Māota’ Best Short Documentary:

Pili Ka Mo’o – Dir. Justyn Ah Chong (Kanaka Maoli)

The Fukumitsu ‘Ohana (family) of Hakipu’u are Native Hawaiian taro farmers and keepers of this generational practice. While much of O’ahu has become urbanized, Hakipu’u remains a kīpuka (oasis) of traditional knowledge where great chiefs once resided and their bones still remain. The Fukumitsus are tossed into a world of complex real estate and judicial proceedings when nearby Kualoa Ranch, a large settler-owned corporation, destroys their familial burials to make way for continued development plans. This film is part of the Reciprocity Project. Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since the beginning of time. To heal, we must recognize that we are in a relationship with Earth, a place that was in balance for millenia.

‘Kauri’ People’s Choice Award:

Night Raiders – Dir. Danis Goulet (Cree) 

The year is 2043. A military occupation controls disenfranchised cities in post-war North America. Children are property of the State. A desperate Cree woman joins an underground band of vigilantes to infiltrate a State children’s academy and get her daughter back. Night Raiders is a multi-award winning female-driven dystopian drama about resilience, courage and love.

About Māoriland Film Festival:

The Indigenous world comes together in Ōtaki, Aotearoa (New Zealand) to celebrate Indigenous screen storytelling at Māoriland Film Festival, the largest Indigenous film festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

The MFF was founded in 2014 to celebrate Indigenous voices and storytelling in film and is held annually in Ōtaki,  a vibrant seaside town where Māori culture and language thrives.

Over the past nine years, the MFF has grown with a year-round programme of events that include; industry focussed events, emerging technology (VR/AR/XR), lecture series – NATIVE Minds, sound and stage performances, a full visual arts programme – Toi Matarau and more. 

These activities are operated from the Māoriland Hub owned by the Māoriland Charitable Trust.