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Festival founder Leo Koziol & director Kararaina Rangihau

Whether it’s the smooth dulcet tones of Kiwi artist Troy Kingi, the engaging playing of Canadian Anishinaabe viola player/artist Melodie McKiver or hearing Director Kim Webby talk about her explosive doco Price of Peace, there was something for everyone at this years Wairoa Maori Film Festival.

Now in its eleventh year, this weekends gathering has attracted a contingent of International and local aboriginal film makers who have converged upon the small East Cast township.

The kaupapa: to discuss, network and showcase film both local & overseas, some highlighting the plight of their people while others tackling subjects that affect social/cultural injustice, the love of film the perfect medium to portray this. The weekend’s events culminating in an awards gala show at the town’s rejuvenated Gaiety theatre.

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Q& A with Price Of Peace group director Kim Webby, producer Christina Milligan and editor Roger Grant

“We’ve been remembering our mum. Huia Koziol our mum who was the chair person of the festival for the longest time and just the legacy she’ll leave behind” says festival founder Leo Koziol.

The tiny settlement and east coast region is well known for its wealth of film makers including documentary maker Kim Webby whose Price of Peace documentary about the “Tuhoe Four” including Tame Iti her first cinematic release has been gaining momentum both here and overseas. Its unbiased but powerful visual portrayal of the Maori artist and activist is a valued watchable commodity and highlights the plight of not only Tuhoe but Maori in general, even in the 21st century.

Other festival highlights included local elder, healer and leader in the Maori community Dr. Rangimarie Turuki RosePere, Canadian indigenous film makers Jules Koostacin & Craig Commanda’s short films, Stallone Vaiaoga-Iosa’s hilarious romantic comedy Three Wise Cousins and local film done good, box office hit film Hunt for the Wilderpeople by director of the moment Taika Waititi (who starts next month shooting the new Thor movie)

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Troy Kingi plays at Wairoa’s Gaeity Theatre

“For Wairoa it means that we’re in touch with what’s happening to a degree.” shares local school teacher Paddy Owen. “Because we have a film studio here in Wairoa as you can see we have a strong Tuhoe influence and direction of Maori film also we see that across the world we see and share the suffering of indigenous people. So I think it connects us with what’s happening with the rest of the world.”

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival is a special event in a unique part of the country. Leo Koziol’s vision is ongoing, perpetual and the more people grab on to his vision the better. Mainstream media presence integral in bringing focus on this small East Coast rural town, however Koziol is adamant about one thing.

“The main thing is to keep is to keep realising the dream and sharing the love of Maori film, Pacifica film and Indigenous film”

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