Merata Mita

Active - 1983 - 2012  |   Born - Jan 1, 1942   |   Genres - Thriller

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Mita Merata is the first Maori woman to direct a feature film, Mauri (1988). Her 1984 documentary Patu! was New Zealand's most controversial film. Merata was born into the Ngati Pikiao tribe. One of nine children, she was raised in the traditional Maori way; in school she began studying as a home science teacher, but soon changed to filmmaking after she was asked to be a consultant on Maori culture for Pakeha (European) filmcrews. Many of her earliest projects were collaborations with men because that made it easier for her to get funding and equipment. All of her topics are political and are generally focused upon Maori issues. Patu! was a subjective documentary that drew parallells between South African apartheid and the treatment of Maoris by Pakehas as it chronicled the riots surrounding the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. The film was so controversial that it was not released for several years.

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