Poi E: The Story of Our Song
Out Now On-Demand
From director Tearepa Kahi (Mt. Zion), this documentary tells the story of iconic, chart-topping, Kiwi song Poi E by the Patea Māori Club. Conceived by Dalvanius Prime and brought to life by residents of Patea, hit hard by the economic tribulations of the Muldoon era, Poi E captured, and changed, New Zealand culture.
Says Kahi, "In those times, it was the English songs that were known, but this Māori song prevailed and made it to the top, because of the beauty and pride we have for our language... The world we live in today was in some sense paved by Dalvanius. The iwi Māori radio stations, Māori Television are all results of his hard work."
To call this film a crowd-pleaser is an understatement (‘pleased’ is how the Queen feels when she receives a cup of Earl Grey at the right temperature). The crowd at the Civic during opening night of the New Zealand International Film Festival was electrified by Tearepa Kahi’s cinematic celebration of our song that – wisely – becomes a celebration of our language as well.
There have been many documentaries about music and musicians that amount to 60 minutes of content thinned out to 90 minutes or more. Not here. There’s plenty to know about the construction of New Zealand’s greatest one-hit wonder, with Dalvanius Prime at its beating heart and the small town of Patea as its lifeblood. Getting to know the man, his motivations, his unique creative processes, and his relationship with the community all help answer the question a number of Kiwis have asked themselves: “Why do I feel so connected to this song?”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but a lot of the fun of this film comes from its down-to-Earth interviewees and how they recall the more rugged moments of getting the song out there. From the bustle of the incredibly short recording session to the search for the guy with the sweet Michael Jackson dance moves, there’s a warmth and playfulness to these micro stories that Kahi visually matches with light animation and punctuates with some witty editing tricks.
There’s so much packed into the movie that some of the more serious moments feel like they’re brushed aside too soon. (One part, in particular, emphasises how modernising traditional waiata was going to earn Prime many enemies – yet nothing comes of this.) But this hastiness is done in service of making The Story of Our Song an unstoppable joy.
NZ Herald (Russell Baillie)
Pantograph Punch (New Zealand)
Listener (New Zealand)
Metro Magazine (New Zealand)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Kate Rodger (New Zealand)
NZ Herald (Siena Yates)
Every kiwi should see this
Ya Gotta See It
Every Kiwi, no everyone will enjoy this doco come movie. Full of the humour and honesty we all expect, know, and love from our bromates. It will make you ever prouder to be a kiwi. Shame on you NZ that no funds were forthcoming to help the Patea Maori group to get to London to play before the Queen. Dal mortgaged his own home to achieve this.
So, soo pleased I went to see this and you will be too.
Everyone knows the song POI E and now everyone should know how it was born! Its a very Heart warming, funny Kiwiana movie and MUST SEE!