The WAIROA MĀORI FILM FESTIVAL is a celebration of Māori and indigenous film held at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, New Zealand, each year.

Founded in 2005, Wairoa Māori Film Festival content is focused on Māori- made and Māori-themed film works, with a diverse international indigenous selection of film works alongside, and a particular focus on the Pacific / Polynesia.

Our film festival is like no other. Guests are welcomed in a traditional Māori powhiri welcoming ceremony, and can stay at the marae (in the cinema) or at nearby Morere mineral springs, Mahia beach, or Wairoa township.

Wairoa is also renowned for the Mahia Space Station - since 2017 you can view rocket launches from our marae!

Master-carved Kahungunu Marae is a traditional Māori meeting house and is famed for featuring in BROKEN BARRIER directed by John O'Shea in the 1950s, with people from Nuhaka and Mahia acting and performing in the film.

We pride ourselves on a laid-back and relaxed energy, a spiritual nourishment both on screen and off. We have a reputation for rich and sincere narratives presented in a gentle and healing marae space. We give voice to the radical, on screen presence to the activist, our audiences feel and resonate with the film makers messages.

We are also a collaborative space where film makers and creatives can connect; short film, documentary and feature dramatic projects have developed over a cup of tea in our marae, with some of these new works screening at our festival upon their completion.

In 2018, we increase our focus on short films and the promotion of emerging indigenous talent in New Zealand, the Pacific and internationally. We have announced once again seven short film awards, including Maori, Pasifika and international indigenous short film jury prizes, a Te Reo Māori language prize, and once again the T-Tahiti Prize with the grand prize of a return trip to Tahiti.

Apart from the main festival in Wairoa, we also curate films nationally and internationally. After our home festival, we take Māori films across New Zealand under the banner of Kia Ora Shorts, and curate the Nga Whanaunga Māori Pasifika programme of the NZ International Film Festival (see below).

More recently, we have spread our wings overseas. We partner annually with the Sydney Māori Business Network to present the Aotearoa Māori Film Festival in Sydney and Brisbane. And in the past years we have curated films for events in Ottawa (Canada), Montreal (Canada), Rochefort (France), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Finland, Fiji, Hamburg, Honolulu, Tahiti, Colorado and Utah.


The Wairoa Māori Film Festival generally encourages entries from Māori, Pasifika and indigenous-identified film makers from around the world. The focus on our programme is Māori film, being dramatic and documentary works about the Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand. We also present a programme of Pasifika films, dramatic and documentary works about peoples of the Pacific who are "whanaunga" (related by blood, ancestry and tradition) to the Māori people of New Zealand.

Our international indigenous programme is diverse and covers many cultures, many worlds, many lives - we encourage entry by all to the international indigenous category, however space in our weekend-long film programme is limited; more so for international works.

The nature of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival is a celebration of Māori film. We accept film works by Māori, for Māori and about Māori; Māori on film, Māori in film, Māori making film. In particular, we want to profile Māori directors, Māori producers and Māori scriptwriters. Where the lead creatives for a Māori film are Non-Māori, then some evidential basis of Māori consultation or involvement of a Māori Advisor to the production is required. See: Brown Book: Māori Protocols Document. We want to see authentic stories that can engage Māori and indigenous audiences as well as appeal to mainstream cinema goers.

As a festival of Māori, Pasifika and indigenous film, we are interested in film works that advance native film making and the progression of a "Fourth Cinema" canon. The Wairoa Māori Film Festival is part of a growing international network of indigenous film festivals that seek to both nurture and grow their native film making communities, and build global native audiences for indigenous storytelling on screen.

Our ongoing commitment to the growth and development of Māori film making is representative in the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, our nation's founding document and a genuine cultural partnership that has resulted in a cultural renaissance and language revitalisation in Māoridom.

For technical considerations and terms and conditions of entry to our festival, please see:


The Wairoa Māori Film Festival has an agreement with the NZ International Film Festival (NZIFF), whereby we oversee curation of the Nga Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Short Film Programme each year.

As part of this relationship, short film makers may enter their short film to screen at the Wairoa Māori Film Festival with this entry still being eligible for selection to NZIFF.

Wairoa Māori Film Festival therefore encourages Māori/Pasifika short film makers who are entering short film works into our festival to also enter their film into NZIFF and the Nga Whanaunga selection category:

Curation of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival programme and the NZIFF Nga Whanaunga programme are independent, and selection into one programme does not indicate or guarantee selection into the other festival. Curation of NZIFF Nga Whanaunga is assisted by Craig Fasi of Pollywood Film Festival.


Celebrating Fourth Cinema by Barry Barclay (Illusions Magazine 2003)
Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker by Randolph Lewis (2006: University of Nebraska Press)
Images of Dignity: Barry Barclay and 4th Cinema, by Stuart Murray 2008.
Brown Book: Māori Protocols Document, Ngā Aho Whakaari, 2014.

SHORT FILMS (NZ & International):
Audience Award - Aotearoa Short Film (Māori)
Audience Award - Best Actor, Aotearoa Short Film (Māori)
Audience Award - Best Actress, Aotearoa Short Film (Māori)
T-Tahiti Māori Short Film Prize (Jury Prize, return trip to Tahiti)
Te Reo Māori Short Film Prize (Jury Prize)
Mana Whenua: Maori Short Film Prize (Jury Prize)
Mana Moana: Pasifika Short Film Prize (Jury Prize)
International Indigenous Short Film Prize (Jury Prize)

International Indigenous Entry Prize (Feature Documentary/Drama)
Mana Wairoa Prize - Best Overall Film (Feature Documentary/Drama)

* Note: The T-Tahiti Prize is administered by the T-Tahiti Film Festival in French Polynesia and is subject to confirmation annually by the overseas festival organisers. The prize generally includes airfare for one person, plus accommodation and meals during the festival stay in Papeete.
* The Te Reo Maori short film prize is dependent on the level of entries each year in Te Reo Maori.

See detailed rules and terms on our website:

Overall Rating
  • Tom Avery

    Loved every second. Due to unforeseen circumstances couldn't stay to see my film screened. My apologies for that. Particularly loved the culture group that performed during The Awards Ball.
    Thanks for everything ... Tom Avery

    June 2018
  • An amazing beautiful experience to be a part of. I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to experience true hospitality in Aotearoa. Definitely one festival to be a part of especially if you would like to see a really diverse range of film specifically around Maori, Polynesian and Native cultures. The awards ceremony was an amazing night of celebrations.

    June 2018
  • Nadine Asmar

    Very interesting selection and variety of films !

    April 2018
  • Arun Deo Joshi

    I did not get any reply dispute of regular correspondence after the film selection

    August 2016
    Response from festival:

    Dear Arun Deo Joshi, Yes your film screened at the festival. Apologies it seems we lost your email. Here is the link to the laurels: Kind Regards, Wairoa Maori Film Festival.

  • Tom O'Halloran

    Brilliant festival and a real representative of arts in Aotearoa and the Pacific. Thanks so much!

    June 2016