George FM K?rerorero
Michael Jonathan
00:00 / 02:18
Te Ao Maori

George FM Kōrerorero

Tīpare and Mike Jonathan on his upcoming movie 'Ka Whawhai Tonu'

With the month of Matariki on the horizon our Kaitūhono Māori Tīpare caught up with Director Mike Jonathan about his upcoming movie 'Ka Whawhai Tonu'.

Based on the historical battle of Ōrakau in Ngāti Maniapoto, the soundtrack features Aotearoa favourites Tiki Taane and Louis Baker. Michael dove into the background of the movie and his motives for helping all New Zealanders understand their history. The movie premieres nationwide on our Matariki holiday June 28th.

On the kaupapa of the film:

Mike explains “The movie is something I’ve wanted to work on since I was 9 years old. I grew up in Taumarunui, and one of the first films I ever went to was Utu, with my mother. So she took me to that and i was so engaged in the film, because I saw people with the same complexion as myself, and Maori, and I heard Maori being spoken and lots of tragedy happening in this film, and so what I got from that time, was that I felt emotional about it, I also felt inspired about that film because I saw my people on the big screen."

"And so, I knew from then on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Which was to make a film, or make movies. To make movies that inspire us as Māori, and New Zealanders, and the world.”

Temuera Morrison as Rewi Maniapoto

Temuera Morrison’s performance:

Mike said “Amazing performance, probably the best performance I’ve ever seen him do. He really owned it."

Music involved in the film:

Says Mike: “We’ve got Tiki Taane. Tiki Taane’s great great great koroua was at that battle, and he’s also a huge contribution to the soundtrack of this film."

"He needed to be teamed up with someone who had experience in the cinema-verse, so once him and this other amazing composer Arli Liberman got together, and they just made this amazing baby. And I said to them - ‘I want something no-one’s ever heard of before.’ So that you..the first couple of seconds of the film, it’s like ‘oooh, oh yeah that’s Māori, that’s Māori, that’s deep.’ And it just goes deeper and deeper and deeper - gets into your soul…"

"There’s many stereotypes for things Māori - and we stay away from them, and we make something new. It’s crazy good. Louis Baker has provided us this amazing waiata, which we’ll release at the same time as the movie...that song will be the new marching song for Aotearoa I reckon.”

Wairua in the Trailer: 

Says Mike: “I showed Cliff Curtis the trailer about a week before it came out - we were in an Uber and I just showed it on my phone, cause he was like ‘I wanna watch the trailer’...and he teared up, and he couldn’t believe how awesome it was."

"He’s in the film! He’s got a small role in the film. And he just did not know it was going to look like that - and the wairua, even though you’re watching it on a phone, it’s there. And so, it was imperative to have wairua throughout the trailer.”

Cliff Curtis as Wi Toka and actor Te Wakanua Te Kurapa

“After I showed Cliff that trailer he goes to me ‘is the film just as good?’. And I went - oh, the film’s better…but way better. And it’s going to take you places that you go to the theatre and have this amazing theatrical experience. And you’re going to cry. And you’ll cry just because I had to go there, to show the brutality of this battle. Of Ōrakau. And to have truth in it. And to see women and children in really difficult sorts of scenes. It’s an honest perspective, from those people who died, and those people who lived to tell the story."

KA WHAWHAI TONU will be released June 28th, Matariki Weekend, 2024.

George FM