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)


You'll laugh, you'll possibly cry, yes you'll get that damn tune stuck in your head for days. But you may even learn some of its lyrics other than that chorus. It'll be worth it.

Pantograph Punch (New Zealand)


Having our language and traditional practices used in such a way, in a pop song, was — in retrospect — like tacit permission to integrate these into our everyday lives.

Listener (New Zealand)


A wonderful celebration of creativity, resilience and, above all, identity.

Metro Magazine (New Zealand)


I am not usually lost for words ... “ecstatic”, “lovely”, “important”, “thank god it isn’t the 1970s any more”.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)


Will leave you tapping your toes, laughing at all the 80s fashions and culture, and smiling all the way home.

Kate Rodger (New Zealand)


Disarming and charming, hilarious and moving... And above all, 100 percent Kiwi.

NZ Herald (Siena Yates)


They call it a feel-good movie, but it's more than that. People laughed, cried, cheered, and even sang along...

Every kiwi should see this

It is not until I saw this film that I realised the influence this song had on NZ music.

Dalvanius was a special character who saw potential that others didn't, it was only through his drive and determination that the song was recorded and received the publicity that it did.

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.

Must see

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!