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

Founded in 2005, the Wairoa Māori Film Festival is the longest running Māori and indigenous film festival in NZ. The festival occurs every Queen's Birthday weekend on the East Coast of the North Island, at Kahungunu Marae in Nuhaka and the Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa. Kahungunu Marae was the setting for scenes from the classic NZ film "Broken Barrier"by John O'Shea in the 1950s. The festival each year is part of the living history of Māori and New Zealand cinema. Film screenings are held in the marae and in the cinema, and a centrepiece Gala Awards Night includes presentation of an annual Women in Film & Television WIFT Mana Wahine Award and an annual Pacific Islanders in Film & Television PIFT Mana Pasifika Award.

Since 2012, the Wairoa Māori Film Festival has curated the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Short film programme of the NZ International Film Festival, with the shorts co-curated by the Pollywood Film Festival. In 2018, Wairoa Māori Film Festival presented the first ever He Wiki Kiriata Māori – Māori Film Week, a celebration of Māori and indigenous cinema and multimedia in central Auckland. In 2018 the theme was Māori Futurism, a feast of futuristic and fantastic Māori and indigenous art and culture, including Lightbox Art Exhibitions in Freyberg Place and Bledisloe Lane. Māori Film Week was kindly supported by Auckland Council.

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.


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.


Festival Board:

Deborah Walker-Morrison (Chairperson)
Louisa Tipene-Opetaia
Rebecca Collins
Leo Koziol
Witi Ihimaera

Festival Team:

Leo Koziol - Festival Director & Programmer
Deborah Walker Morrison - Juries Adjudicator & Gala Event Director
Louisa Tipene-Opetaia - Customer Services Manager
Ratu Tibble - Festival Kaumatua
Noa Campbell - Cultural Advisor