Make My Movie

NZFC / NZ On Air / present... the MAKE MY MOVIE project. Our proud history of profound, progressive & potty thinking: Splittng the Atom / Women Getting the Vote / the Zorb and now we have another world first: the MAKE MY MOVIE project

Project details

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Waka Girl

A “Spirit Canoe Films” FILM
WRITTEN BY Griff Wiremu

Eighteen year-old Shannon Aroha is a reserved, independent, iBookworm. She has an academic appreciation of Maori culture and speaks Te Reo. A relaxing day at the beach, reading, is disturbed when chanting warriors paddle past in the tribe's Waka Taua (war canoe). Shannon is spellbound in a magical, spirit-stirring, moment. That night she dreams she's Te Rangatira o Te Waka Taua (captain of the war canoe). Her desire to paddle the Waka Taua conflicts with tradition. Women are forbidden on war canoes. Despite this she secretly practises waka paddling exercises learnt on YouTube.

Two lines of staunch Waka Taua kaihohe (warrior paddlers) are perfecting their paddling drills on the beach under the strict instruction of the formidable Piri Pango, Te Rangatira o Te Waka Taua. Shannon takes her paddle and cautiously joins a row of muscular warriors who continue the drill despite her presence. She quickly learns the routine, faster than some of the men. When Piri sees Shannon, sparks fly. He snaps her paddle and sends her home humiliated. Shannon abandons her waka dream but indignant resentment begins to grow. Why can't girls paddle a war canoe?

A sympathetic kuia tells Shannon about an abandoned waka and the legend of the mysterious Waka Wairua (spirit canoe). An elderly tohunga knows the waka's location and has the mana to lift the tapu. He lives in the back-blocks cared for by his good looking but rebellious grandson. Shannon is determined to find the reclusive tohunga, recover the neglected waka and train a crew of women to paddle it. But if Piri Pango finds out...