Mana Wahine Award 2019 to Whetu Fala

Whetu Fala

Whetu Fala

9 May 2019

Women in Film & Television (WIFT) NZ and the Wairoa Māori Film Festival Inc. are delighted to announce that the 2019 WIFT NZ Mana Wāhine Award recipient is Whetu Fala.

The Award will be presented at the Wairoa Māori Gala Film Awards at the iconic Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa, on Saturday June 1.

Whetu Fala (Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Maru ki Taranaki, Samoa, Rotuma)

Whetu Fala is an entrepreneur and creative, infused with te wairua auaha, the creative spirit. She has owned Fala Media for over twenty years. Whetu has produced, directed and edited hundreds of hours of television, including drama, documentaries, reality series and short films since starting at TVNZ in 1988.

Whetu has a background in theatre as an actor. Her work includes a Young Māori in Performance season at the Sydney Opera House, and her own theatre company, He Oriori mo ngā Tamariki, toured to Storytellers International, Alburqerque, New Mexico. She has graced the screen in numerous films and television series, and is a founding member of Taki Rua Theatre, Te Manu Aute Māori in Film, Women in Film & Television Wellington, Ngā Aho Whakaari Māori Screen Guild, and Pacific Islanders in Film & Television Aōtearoa.

In 2016 Whetu was appointed to the Board of Māori Television. She also sits on the Boards of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision and Te Puna Ataata (the New Zealand Film Heritage Trust). Most recently she has returned to her home town of Whanganui to take on the position of Manager for Awa FM, promoting the stories and language cadence of the Whanganui River region to the world.

As an aside she was one of the case studies in a PhD documentary, entitled 'Emancipatory Māori entrepreneurship in screen production’ (Henry, 2012), where she said, “I would say to other Māori and Pacifica, mahia te mahi, you are what you do, not what you say you do”, and that is exactly what Whetu has been doing for over thirty years, mentoring, coaching, supporting, guiding, collaborating, creating, bursting through glass ceilings, and doing it all with a joy for life, a sharp intellect, an acerbic sense of humour, and a great love of people, which is a privilege to behold. She encapsulates everything that is Mana Wāhine. 

The WIFT Mana Wāhine Award recognises and supports the achievements of Māori Women in film and television who work tirelessly, diligently and with vision to support and promote Māori culture, Te Reo Māori, Tikanga Māori and the welfare and stories of wāhine. The Award was first initiated in 2011 by Wairoa Māori Film Festival director Leo Koziol and his mother Huia Koziol.

Tickets for the Awards Gala and Film Festival can be booked at Eventfinda – Māori Film Awards only $50, Full Festival Pass including Awards $150

Festival Pass:

Gala Tickets:  

 The Wairoa Māori Film Festival this year has twenty screenings with over 50 shorts, and five feature dramas / documentaries. Screenings are held in Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, famed for featuring in scenes from John O’Shea’s BROKEN BARRIER in 1955. For the fifth year, the festival will also be at the reopened Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa. A selection of the Māori and Pasifika short films screening at the festival will go on to comprise the New Zealand International Film Festival Ngā Whanaunga programme which will premiere in Auckland later this year. A number of Māori film makers will be feted at the awards, including Whetu Fala and master cinematographer Fred Renata. Closing night is “Bush Cinema” underground shorts at Morere hot springs, with the pools open late into the night. The Wairoa Māori Film Festival is sponsored by the New Zealand Film Commission and Wairoa District Council. The entire programme can now be viewed online at:

For media enquiries please contact Leo Koziol, Festival Director, Wairoa Māori Film Festival, on or mob: 027 2808729.