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July 24, 2006 | by  | in Film |
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NGATI (New Zealand 1987)

AN ALL-time favourite that should be compulsory to view at high school alongside Angel at my Table, Ngati is the first feature film written by, directed by, and starring Maori. Just as Whale Rider has epitomized rural New Zealand and the locals of the East Coast in recent times, Ngati portrayed that same ideology a decade before.

Set in 1948 in the small community of Waipiro Bay, the story is based around the closure of the local freezing works, which is the hub of the village. Within this plot there is the love story between the new Australian doctor discovering his Maori roots, and a local Pakeha woman. The doctor, builds a unique relationship with the locals when he tries to help a dying boy, Ropata. The story is narrated by Ropata’s best friend, Tione and observes the unique relationship between Maori and Pakeha. Ngati combines rural Aotearoa with the same music and backdrop that Whale Rider does, and there is the same emotional attachment and enjoyment. Ngati in 1987 set the standard for future features based on Maori life and although Whale Rider was more accomplished, it would be interesting to see whether the two would hold the same audience if they were both released today. Ngati is amazing for its waiata, aroha and the generous amount of whanau that you are bound to see working their magic in the back-kitchen of the marae scene. Ngati won Best Film at the Taormina Film Festival, Italy in 1987. I recommend that you go along and see Ngati when it is screened at the Wellington Film Festival on Saturday, 5 August at 7:15pm or Sunday, 6 August at 5:00pm.

Directed by Barry Barclay

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