Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Directed by Heperi Mita
New Zealand
87 minutes
Unclassified 15+
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A fascinating portrait of trailblazing Māori filmmaker, Merata Mita (reportedly the first Indigenous woman to direct a feature), crafted with love by her youngest son.

A film archivist, debut director Heperi Mita is also the son of Merata and New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Murphy. Heperi takes us through his mother's life and work, beginning with her traditional childhood and early marriage in Maketu, Bay of Plenty. A move to Auckland and a fractious relationship follow, and she ends up juggling solo parenting with her burgeoning activism (resulting in police harassment), politicisation and interest in filmmaking. Merata Mita was a barrier-breaking figure, not just as a filmmaker but also as a global mentor for indigenous people, and inspiration for many (including Taika Waititi). Heperi tells Merata's dynamic story with clips of her work, interviews with family, and also his own touching commentary.

Heperi paints a very specific historic, geographic and familial context in which Merata’s character, her outrage and her can-do attitude would so severely clash with the obstacles thrown at her by life and the society she lived in, that it could only result in her becoming an activist for women’s and Indigenous rights.
Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter
Eighty of the happiest minutes documentary-lovers are likely to spend in a theater this year, the film shows the debt that the graffiti and street-art communities owe to the septuagenarian artist, who co-authored a landmark book on subway art in 1984 and is still going strong.
– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
Directed with infectious zeal, it's a photographer bio-doc that always feels to be in motion, especially given its excellent editing, fascinating subject, and narrative ambition.
– Nick Allen,

Special Guests

Heperi Mita
Director, Screenwriter
Chelsea Winstanley


Thu 13 June
State Theatre
Past Event Cancel
Sat 15 June
Event Cinemas George St 5
Past Event Cancel
Supported By
Program Strand
International Documentaries, Focus on New Zealand, First Nations, Festival Hits, Festival Guests
Unclassified 15+
New Zealand
In English
Heperi Mita
Chelsea Winstanley
Heperi Mita
Mike Jonathan
Te Rurehe Paki
Australian Premiere
Documentary, Seniors, Arts, Biography, Cinephile, Filmmaking, First Nations, Focus on Women
Company Credits
Festival Contact: New Zealand Film Commission
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