GT: Films and Documentaries by Merata Mita


  1. Saving Grace (2011) (Te Whakarauora Tangata) is the final work of director Merata Mita, who passed away suddenly before the film could be completed. “Merata intended the documentary to count in ways that mattered deeply to her and to change perceptions of abuse and violence by using themes of responsibility, redemption, revitalisation, forgiveness and, most of all, love.” - Carol Hirschfeld, Māori Television.

    The film addresses some of the deepest and most distressing issues Māori communities face, and shows how extraordinary creative solutions are being provided by Māori communities themselves.

  2. Hotere (2001) Ralph Hotere, Te Aupōuri is regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest artists. This documentary by Merata Mita provides a perspective on his world, largely by way of framing his extensive body of work. Hotere remains famously tight-lipped throughout, but there are interviews with artists, friends and commentators, alongside scenes of Hotere working and of his contemporary home context. Mita's impressionistic film is set to a Hirini Melbourne-directed score of jazz, māori and pop songs, and poetry reading by Hotere's first wife Cilla McQueen.

  3. The Shooting of Dominick Kaiwhata (1993) Black Power members Dominick Kaiwhata and Pomare Mason were driving an old MK3 to Taneatua after a drinking spree. Their car broke down near Phillip Mason’s drive. Dominick Kaiwhata remained by the car while Pomare Mason went for help. When seeing keys in the ignition of a truck parked on Mason’s drive, Pomare decided to take the truck to tow their vehicle. This act led to the fatal shooting of Dominick Kaiwhata and the attempted shooting of Pomare Mason by Phillip Mason.

    Television and news media portrayed Kaiwhata and Mason as wrong-doers. Phillip Mason was acquitted by the justice system and found not guilty of these crimes. Three years on people are still trying to come to terms with the verdict and the Whakatane Maori Community, determined to reel from the white backlash, organised themselves to fight back. 

    This film focuses on that story and their determination to fight a legal system which failed to deliver justice.

    Interviewed: Tom Williams, Maire Williams (Te Roopu Awhina), Koro Aukaha (Kaumatua), Haare Reneti (Kaumatua).

  4. Mana Waka (1990) In the late 1930s Waikato leader Te Puea Hērangi held a dream to build seven waka taua for the 1940 centennial commemorations at Waitangi. By 1937 two waka had been commissioned and cameraman RGH Manley engaged to record their building for posterity. The original footage was not printed and remained untouched for almost 50 years, until 1983 when Ngā Kaitiaki Ō Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua The New Zealand Film Archive received permission from Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikāhu to begin work on the nitrate negatives. Repair and preservation took more than 350 hours and several years and in August 1989 work began to construct a new film. Merata Mita was appointed director and, with editor Annie Collins and Archive director Jonathan Dennis, moved to Turangawaewae Marae to edit it. Mita was informed by kaumatua who had witnessed the events and could provide clarity to and guidance in shaping the film.

“The revolution isn’t just running out with a gun. If a film I make causes indigenous people to feel stronger about themselves, then I’m achieving something worthwhile for the revolution.” - Merata Mita..png


  1. Mauri (1988) is the story of Rewi, a man haunted by a past which threatens to engulf his future. The story is set among the colourful characters of a once thriving settlement, Te Mata, upon whom the encroachment by Europeans spells disaster. 

    Now isolated by lack of numbers, time and distance, the remaining survivors form a tight-knit community which outsiders find impenetrable. Rewi's deceit forces him to become part of that community and his life is inextricably interwoven with those around him. -

  2. Patu! (1983) Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the marchers and a large team of filmmakers, the feature-length documentary is a landmark in Aotearoa's film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were "a passionless people".

  3. The Bridge: A Story of Men in Dispute (1982) In late May, 1978, 142 carpenters and labourers on the Mangere Bridge construction site in Auckland were sacked over a redundancy dispute.  the Bridge workers declared the job 'black' and began to picket the site. The company retaliated by refusing to negotiate. A stalemate ensued, which was to become the longest industrial dispute in New Zealand history: two and a half years. The film looks at the events that took place during that time. it shows how a diverse group of people were thrown together and how the dispute affected their lives. As well, it is an inside view of trade unionism called into action.

  4. Bastion Point: Day 507 (1980) In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing development on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. 506 days later police and army arrived en masse to remove them. This documentary examines the rich and tragic history of Bastion Point/ Takaparawhau — including how questionable methods were used to gradually take the land from Māori, while basic amenities were withheld from those remaining. The documentary features extensive interviews with protest leader Joe Hawke, and footage from seminal documentary Bastion Point Day 507