This is the story of an artist’s reaction to struggle, the sacrifices paid in the fight for self-expression, and the legacy that this forged.
- Chelsea Winstanley
- Heperi Mita
- Cliff Curtis
- Full-Length Film
- Maori, New Zealand, Aotearoa, Pacific Islanders, Women
She was a pioneer of indigenous film, a director, an actress, an activist, a feminist, a mother and a teacher and a mentor. She is the first, and only, Maori woman to write and direct a dramatic feature film and her award-winning documentaries are world-renowned. Her work and advocacy influenced a generation of Maori, Aboriginal, Pacific Island and First Nations filmmakers.
MERATA is the story of an artist’s reaction to struggle, the sacrifices paid in the fight for self-expression, and the legacy that this forged.
The struggle of being a Mother
The struggle of being Indigenous
The struggle of being a Woman
The struggle of being a Filmmaker
And most importantly, the liberation of each of those struggles through the single life of Merata Mita, our mother.
Cliff Curtis, Executive Producer
With over 20 years experience in the film industry, Cliff Curtis has established himself as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most successful actors and producers.
Curtis made his feature film debut in a small role in The Piano (1993), before exploring a wide range of genres in NZ films including Desperate Remedies, Jubilee and River Queen. But it was Once Were Warriors (1994) and Whale Rider (2002) that brought him to a wider audience.
Curtis won early attention in the US working with director David O. Russell in 1999’s Three Kings alongside actors George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg whilst simultaneously working with director Martin Scorsese and actor Nicolas Cage. In this same year, he worked with director Michael Mann and actors Al Pacino and Russell Crowe in The Insider. Since, Curtis has worked steadily internationally, taking a pragmatic approach to his Hollywood career to strengthen his craft and enhance his passion for producing.
In 2004 Curtis formed Maori film production company Whenua Films with cousin Ainsley Gardiner. The pair produced Taika Waititi’s WWII short film Tama Tū (2005), debut feature, geek comedy Eagle vs Shark (2007), and Boy the feature inspired by Waititi’s Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night. Accumulating a cache of local and international acclaim and awards for each project it was Boy that became the highest grossing local film in NZ history (2010). Whenua Films also ran a NZFC Short Film scheme executive-producing a number of successful shorts, including Hawaikii, Coffee & Allah and Taua.
Heperi Mita, Director/Writer
Since moving to Wellington, New Zealand in 2011, Hepi Mita has worked with Nga Taonga Sound & Vision (formerly The New Zealand Film Archive) as Kaikohikohi, advocating for and working with the Maori production community in an effort to preserve the cinematic and television history of Aotearoa. He received technical training from the staff of L’Immagine Ritrovata in large gauge film scanning and was certified through their Film School Asia program in Singapore.
After earning a degree in media studies from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2009, Hepi began his professional career for the Pulitzer Prize award winning newspaper and EPPY award winning news website The Las Vegas Sun. Here he covered sports and developed his technical skills in video production as a videographer, editor and web developer for their online multimedia.
As the son of two of New Zealand’s most prolific filmmakers, Hepi has a strong passion for Aotearoa’s moving image heritage and a lifetime of exposure to the industry. He graduated from Punahou High School in 2003.
Chelsea Winstanley, Producer
With a background in documentary directing, Chelsea began producing television and short films with business partner Desray Armstrong in 2008. She has made and won media peace awards for her documentaries and made several Television series for the indigenous broadcaster Maori Television. TV series included the origins of traditional Māori music through to Kete Aronui an arts series which featured an episode on Merata Mita.
Since then Chelsea has gone on to make some of the most successful NZ short films of the last 4 years, including having films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival two years in a row - Nightshift by Zia Mandviwalla, and Meathead by Sam Holst respectively.
In 2010 Chelsea was producing Merata Mita’s feature documentary Saving Grace Te Whakarauora Tangata when she suddenly passed away.
In 2014 Chelsea’s produced the award-winning feature film What We Do In The Shadows written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, it became NZ’s highest grossing local film of that year.
She has been a board member of Nga Aho Whakaari and W.I.F.T - NZ. In 2013 She was part of Script to Screen’s Film mentorship program with Tim White as her mentor.