Māoriland Film Festival announces 10th anniversary programme for 2023


This year, the Māoriland Film Festival (MFF) celebrates a decade of Indigenous storytelling in Aotearoa and presents the largest showcase in the festival’s history.

For the tenth anniversary, MFF will present over 140 short and feature films from 150 Indigenous Nations across five days (15th – 19th March 2023) in Ōtaki. 

MFF director Libby Hakaraia says the ten year anniversary coincides with the festival becoming the largest international Indigenous film festival in the world. 

“This year’s festival marks a milestone for Indigenous storytelling in Aotearoa.  ‘Mā mua e kē anō ai mā muri – We look to the past so the future may be different’  is a fitting theme for our  2023 programme” says Libby. 

“We started the Māoriland Film Festival in 2014 as a small whānau group of filmmakers, lawnmower contractors and a health sciences graduate.  as a platform for Indigenous film and filmmakers. Since then it has presented over 2,000 Indigenous film, hosted hundreds of national and international filmmakers and brought more than double the population of Ōtaki to watch films over the 5 days (12000+ people). “


“We have built the MFF with our community to become a must attend event for Indigenous filmmakers from all over the world, as well as for festival directors and industry professionals. It’s gratifying to have them tell us that Māoriland is culturally unique, relevant and memorable.”

Screen Shot 2023-02-05 at 7.00.33 PM
Screen Shot 2023-02-05 at 7.04.40 PM
MFF Powhiri Raukawa Marae

Māoriland Film Festival over the past ten years

In addition to an extensive film programme, the MFF2023 features the 10th anniversary of the E Tū Whānau Rangatahi Film Awards, VR, XR, AR, and Gaming technology, screen industry events, NATIVE Minds lecture series hosted by Tainui Stephens, stunning exhibitions at the Toi Matarau gallery and the carving of the Māoriland pou (posts) by Te Matatoki carvers, the 2023 Māoriland artists in residence.

The 2023 MFF programme is the largest yet, featuring more than 140 films from 150 Indigenous nations. 

The full programme can be found on the Māoriland website here. There’s something for everyone in the MFF2023 line up, with both short and long form drama spanning from the humorous to the supernatural, sci fi, historical and more.

Opening the festival, there will be a screening of the spectacular Hawaiian film Ka Pō, a powerful drama that takes place in the beautiful, rugged wildness of Kauai, about a young woman who finds herself again after escaping an abusive relationship and meth addiction. Māori producer, Chelsea Winstanley was closely involved in Ka Pō.

Documentary lovers will be able to revel in the story of celebrated Turtle Island activist musician Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On from Ojibwe, Saulteux director Madison Thomas, while A Boy Called Piano: The Story of Fa’amoana John Luafutu is the  impactful story of Fa’amoana’s time as a state ward in the 1960’s.

Bones of Crows is an epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears which spans generations and is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples as well as a stirring story of resilience and resistance.

Set in Nova Scotia, Wildhood is the debut feature of two-spirit non-binary director Bretten Hannam, which follows two boys as they flee their abusive dad and embark upon a quest. 

In a warm and intimate observational film from Iran, Destiny shows the story of a young woman caught between traditional gender roles and her desire for self-determination, volleyball, and Instagram.

Ka Pō
Ka Pō
A Boy Called Piano: The Story of Fa'amoana John Luafutu
A Boy Called Piano: The Story of Fa’amoana John Luafutu

 A film about family, love, and misfits, ROSIE tells the story of a young, orphaned, Indigenous girl who is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart Aunty Fred. Rosie transforms the lives of Fred and her best friends, finding love, acceptance, and a true HOME with her new chosen family of glittering outsiders. This joyful film will have audiences laughing, dancing and crying in their seats. 

For horror buffs, the closing night film presented by NYU’s Office Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation, Slash/Back is an Inuit sci-fi horror that will have audiences on the edge of their seats. Set in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, a group of teenage girls discover an alien invasion threatening their hometown.. Slash/Back is the debut feature film from multi-talented director, Nyla Innuksuk, creator of Marvel Comics first Inuit Superhero, Snowguard. 


Additionally, there are more than 111 short films programmed at this year’s MFF, spanning 17 screening sessions with films from Indigenous storytellers across the globe. 

 Māoriland Film Festival 2023 will take place from 15th – 19th March 2023 in Ōtaki.

Tickets will be available via iticket.co.nz and at the Māoriland Hub from mid-February.

Celebrating a decade of Indigenous storytelling, Libby Hakaraia will be giving the Māoriland Keynote Address at Rangiātea Church showing excerpts from the films that Māoriland Films of the 1920’s created in Ōtaki as well as some of the films that have inspired her in her 30+ years in the industry.  Libby will also share the Māoriland vision for the future including capacity building with rangatahi.

Past Māoriland keynote speakers are Tainui Stephens, Lawrence Makoare, Larry Parr, Julian and Mabelle Dennison, Rawiri Paratene, Heperi and Awatea Mita, Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen and Waihoroi Shortland.

Libby Hakaraia
Libby Hakaraia

Māoriland also celebrates 10 years of collaboration with E Tū Whānau (ETW) for the annual Rangatahi Film Awards held during the MFF. The ETW Rangatahi Film Awards recognise filmmakers aged 12-25 from all over Aotearoa who have created films throughout the year at Māoriland’s rangatahi-led workshops. Over the past ten years the programme has made over 100 films with over 2,000 rangatahi across New Zealand – many are now working in the screen industry including at Māoriland Film Festival.

The Māoriland Tech Creative Hub is a training and creative space for rangatahi to upskill and unleash their creative potential using software and digital tools. Animation, graphic design, game development, VR, XR – MATCH aims to pathway rangatahi Māori into high-value jobs in the rapidly growing tech creative industries.

This year’s M.A.T.C.H Exhibition will showcase new work from M.A.T.C.H graduates alongside an exhilarating exhibition of Indigenous digital creativity. 

VR Experience, “This Is Not A Ceremony” by Niitsitapi writer and director Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon) takes the viewer beyond the veil of traditional media and transports them directly into another realm, where past, present and future are one; where colonial rules and assumptions are forgotten; and where we can finally get to the truth of the matter. Visually stunning and wholly immersive, Ahnahktsipiitaa shows the potential of cinematic VR. 

Valley of the Rougarou, from Metis director Jordan Waunch – An ominous mixed reality surivival game in which players must navigate through a dark forest, unravelling clues in hopes of escaping the Valley before they are caught by the Rougarou stalking them.

 Games, Mikiwam: Solarpunk Herbalism (Keara and Caeleigh Lightning from Samson Cree Nation (Nehiyaw)), Set in a post-colonial fantasy world a herbalist’s apprentice serves magic elemental teas to influence a colourful cast of characters and AlterNative from Kanaka Maoli director Pohaikealoha Panoke – This point-and-click game of affirmations and vocal poetry combines 4 inputs from 4 indigenous artists on the different seasons of life. Click around the canvas to find different affirmations and uncover the 4 poetic dialogues as you ponder your own season of life.