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The 2024 Māoriland Film Festival (MFF) was by popular consensus the best yet.

Having already organised 10 previous festivals, each growing in reputation and size, the Māoriland team had a challenge to live up to expectations. They didn’t fail to deliver.

MFF 2024 was touted as the largest Indigenous film festival in the world. Anyone who was in Ōtaki from March 20-24 could not have missed the buzz about the town.

Tame Iti with his installation, Te Maungarōngo, at Memorial Park in the heart of Ōtaki.

Photo Ōtaki Today

Art installations such as Tame Iti’s powerful two-tier artwork in Memorial Park, and Regan Balzer’s Toitū te Rongomau painted boldly on the front wall of Ōtaki Museum, were visual signs that something big was happening in Ōtaki.

The energy was palpable as locals mixed with international and New Zealand film stars, producers, directors, writers, videographers and other industry heavyweights who lapped up the vibe in town.

Tame Iti (Ngāi Tūhoe) sat comfortably in the sun in Memorial Park with anyone who cared to chat with him, soaking up the manaakitanga that has become a hallmark of Māoriland events and Ōtaki as a town.

In the Māoriland Hub, visitors relaxed and mingled with the MFF crew, bought tickets to the multitude of films, and just relaxed if they felt the need. Others took in the Indigenous artwork at Toi Mataura within the hub, and bought as desires and wallet afforded.

Undoubtedly the superb weather throughout the five days of events enhanced the mood, punctuated by the drama of fire trucks racing through town to battle the blaze at the old health camp.

The festival this year boasted the largest programme so far. There were 168 films by filmmakers from more than 130 Indigenous nations, including 11 feature films, eight feature documentaries and 16 short film programmes.

There was plenty to choose from for movie buffs of whatever artistic persuasion.

The traditional keynote addresses to kick off the festival, were as always enlightening and thought-provoking. Being held at Rangiātea Church adds an element of reflection to the addresses, though there were again plenty of lighter moments.

If anyone ever thought the festival was for high-brow adults, they’d be quite wrong. Māoriland has always strived to nurture rangatahi talent, and their achievements are celebrated as much at the biggest filmmakers.

This was a fantastic festival for which Ōtaki can be proud. Bring on MFF 2025.



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Ōtaki abuzz with film festival - Ōtaki Today



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