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Maoriland festival looks to past glory

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A Maori filmmaker wants to again make Otaki the film making capital of New Zealand.

Libby Hakaraia is organising the first Maoriland Film Festival in the Horowhenua town in March.

She says in the 1920s her home town was the base for Maoriland Film Company, which described Otaki as the Los Angeles of New Zealand's moving picture industry and produced several features and shorts.

"They also covered or filmed the tangi and funeral of Heeni Te Rei, who was Te Rauparaha's niece. That was in 1921 and so they've got all this imagery that still exists - people down at Raukawa Marae preparing the hangi, weaving the kono, the flax baskets and all that sort fo thing, and also the funeral cortege going down the main street of Otaki.

"We brought those films with the Film Archives back to Te Raukawa Marae and people spoke to those films in a series we made for TV One. That stayed with me, that resonance of bringing films back to small communities like Otaki that often get missed out by the big film festivals that go to all the main centres," Ms Hakaraia says.

She says the Maoriland Film Festival will complement the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, and it could become part of an international circuit of indigenous film festivals.

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