Our Kanopy and Beamafilm streaming platforms have a great selection of FREE content from Aotearoa and the Pacific. It’s always good to see our own cultures represented on the screen, so while we are still spending a lot of time at home grab the opportunity to watch some gems that have a Māori and Pasifika kaupapa!
This blog only highlights a small selection of films including emotional movies, documentaries, and a feel good gem about musicians and finding yourself. You will find more if you search ‘Māori’, ‘New Zealand’, or a specific Pasifika country within Kanopy or Beamafilm.
Go ahead and immerse yourself in the stories of Aotearoa and the Pacific!
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Tusi Tamasese
The Orator is a beautiful and emotional movie that was written and directed by Samoan film-maker Tusi Tamasese and shot entirely in Samoan on location in Samoa itself. Saili’s story is one of love and challenges as he learns he must stand tall, despite his small stature, to become a hero. Highly recommended.
You can also watch Tamasese’s other feature film, One Thousand Ropes, on Kanopy.
Kuo Hina E Hiapo: The Mulberry is White and Ready for Harvest
Length: 28 minutes
Directors: Joseph Ostraff, Melinda Ostraff
Tapa cloth is a true artistic treasure of the Pacific. In Tonga it is called ngatu and this short documentary illustrates ngatu’s symbolic importance and collaborative production. Beautiful and fascinating!
Our Te Moana-Nui-A-Kiwi/Pasefika popular topic page provides links to all sorts of Pasefika books and online resources.
Length: 100 minutes
Director: Merata Mita
Merata Mita was the first Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic movie when she brought out Mauri in 1988. Set on the East Coast, Mauri stars Anzac Wallace (Utu) and activist Eva Rickard. This is a landmark film from a landmark Māori film maker.
You can also watch Ngati on Kanopy, another ground-breaking film from a Māori film maker, this time Barry Barclay.
Length: 86 minutes
Directors: Ainsley Gardiner, Awanui Simich-Pene, Briar Grace Smith, Casey Kaa, Chelsea Winstanley, Katie Wolfe, Paula Whetu Jones, Renae Maihi
Eight female Māori directors give us eight connected stories, each taking place at the same moment in time during the tangi of a small boy called Waru. This is a very moving and challenging film with all eight stories subtly linked while following different female characters. All must come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward within their community.
A tangi is at the heart of Waru. If you want to learn about Māori protocols surrounding tangi, or other Māori topics, our Māori Information Resources page is an excellent place to start.
The Rain of the Children
Length: 102 minutes
Director: Vincent Ward
I love this film. Vincent Ward’s beautiful dramatic documentary explores the life of Tuhoe woman Puhi and her relationship to Rua Kenana and the community at Maungapohatu. Ward looks at the curse Puhi believed she lived under in an incredibly moving way, and the result is a jewel of a film.
You can also watch Vincent Ward’s first film about Puhi, In Spring One Plants Alone, on Kanopy.
Length: 107 minutes
Director: Toa Fraser
Woo hoo! Revenge and action abound in Toa Fraser’s movie starring James Rolleston and Lawrence Makoare. You gotta love the use of mau rākau – a traditional Māori martial art – and a script in te reo Māori!
If you want to start learning te reo Māori our recent Resources to Learn Māori blog can help with all sorts of tips to get you started.
The Pa Boys
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Himiona Grace
My whānau love this heartfelt film about a musician and his reggae band on a road trip of music and self discovery. Francis Kora is wonderful as Danny who is unsettled, and then opened up to his culture, when Tau (Matariki Whatarau) joins the band. Music, landscape, laughs and love – beautiful and simple.
The band in The Pa Boys sets out from Wellington where Danny lives. If you love the music scene in Wellington you can learn more about it on our dedicated Wellington Music page.