Since 2005, we have lead the effort to promote Maori film making and the vision of 4th Cinema.


Our Mission

The Wairoa Maori Film  Festival was founded in 2005 with the purpose of supporting, recognising and presenting the indigenous storyteller narrative. We are a non profit, non political organisation Te Roopu Whakaata Maori i Te Wairoa - Wairoa Maori Film Festival Inc.

Congratulations on keeping Wairoa Maori Film Festival alive! Its significance for us as image makers is imperative, important and relevant in the ever growing global ‘niche’ film market.
— Mika, 2012

What We've Achieved

  • Almost a decade of curating and presenting Maori and indigenous film works at our home venues in Wairoa and Nuhaka.

  • Seven years curating and assisting short film makers in screening their films in Matariki festivals across Aotearoa.

  • Now in the third year of curating the "Nga Whanaunga" Maori Pasifika programme of the New Zealand International Film Festival.

  • Now in the second year of co-curating the Aotearoa Maori Film Festival in Australia. This new festival was launched in Sydney in September 2013, and in 2014 will host screenings in Sydney and Brisbane.

  • In 2014 we partnered with the Te Nati Film Festival in Tahiti French Polynesia to host a Maori and Tahitian (Maohi) film screening at the National Museum of Tahiti.


Each year since 2005, as the stars of Matariki (Pleiades) arose on the horizon, Maori film makers have gathered in Wairoa to celebrate the art of storytelling on screen at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival. The festival screens feature films, short films, documentaries and multi-media art works all directed by Maori, written by Maori, or featuring people of Maori descent in an acting or documentary role.

Alongside the Maori programme, we have screened indigenous film works from all around the world. Indigenous film makers have travelled to the festival from such diverse destinations as Canada, Australia, United States, Mexico, Taiwan, the Philippines and Samoa.

Festival guests mix and mingle in a relaxed atmosphere with lots of time for kai and korero, continuous film screenings in our marae, with time out for hot pools and bush walks at neighbouring Morere.


The Wairoa Maori Film Festival is a film festival experience like no other. The festival is hosted in Kahungunu Marae, a traditional Maori meeting house in the historic Maori village of Nuhaka. Visitors to the festival are welcomed in a traditional Māori ceremony. Guests stay on the marae, or at the nearby Morere Hot Springs. Annual highlights:

  • Opening Night MATARIKI SHORT FILM EVENING with special preview of new works.

  • Three days of continuous film screenings (Friday to Sunday) and workshops.

  • Centrepiece MANA WAIROA GALA AWARDS evening and dinner celebration.

  • Presentation of annual WIFT Women in Film & Television Mana Wahine Award.

[Being] at the marae enhanced the friendliness of the festival …the wharenui provided comfort when confronted by the hurt and injustices exposed in some of the films
— 2013 Festival attendee


Following the main event, Wairoa Maori Film Festival then curates short film works to the Matariki Short Film Festival and the New Zealand International Film Festival:

  • Festival Director Leo Koziol annually curates the “Nga Whanaunga” Maori Pasifika Short Films programme of the New Zealand International Film Festival. This programme has screened in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Hawke’s Bay.

  • The Kia Ora Shorts programme takes Maori short films to arts venues in Auckland (Corban Estate Arts Centre), Wellington (Te Papa Museum of New Zealand) and Invercargill (Southland Museum).


The Wairoa Maori Film Festival in 2013 commenced a new “World Tour” programme curating and distributing Maori short films around the world:

  • Nga Whanaunga programme – Skabmagovat Film Festival, Finland (January)

  • Nga Whanaunga programme – Islands in the World Film Festival, Fiji (April)

  • “Best of Wairoa Film Festival” – Museum von Volkerkunde, Hamburg, Germany (June)

  • Aotearoa Maori Film Festival Launch, Sydney, Australia (September)

Plans are afoot to expand this tour in 2014 to new screening events in Honolulu, Brisbane and Melbourne. We are assisting new organisations to establish new festivals, and working with existing film festivals to distribute Maori film content.


Festival Patrons:

John Bluck
Huia Brown
Cliff Curtis
Waana Davis
Roger Donaldson
Barry Everard
Caren Fox
Derek Fox
Sir Bob Harvey
Witi Ihimaera
Wilson Isaac
Dame Georgina Kirby
Huia Koziol 
Sir Geoff Murphy
Here Nissen
Rena Owen
Les Probert 
Chris Sidney
Karen Sidney
Te Arohanoa Taiapa
Billy T.K.
Pauline Tangiora
Isabella Westbury

Festival Board:

Huia Koziol
Ratu Tibble
Here Nissen
Leo Koziol
Hiona Henare
Jordan Koziol-Repia
Rebecca Batistich

Festival Team:

Leo Koziol - Festival Director & Programmer
Ratu Tibble - Festival Kaumatua
Hiona Henare - Co-Programmer, Publicity & Marketing
Rebecca Batistich - Festival Coordinator
Renae Maihi - Manaakitanga Guest Services
Jordan Koziol - Repia - Media Consultant
Noa Campbell - Cultural Advisor
Ruby  Reid - Kai Mahi
Brad Batistich - Kai Mahi