Cornerstone are currently producing a movie about the life of Dame Whina Cooper, starring powerhouse Māori actress Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors, Star Wars) in the lead role.
The movie will be written and directed by James Napier Robertson, who directed 2014 festival favorite The Dark Horse, and Paula Whetu Jones (Waru).
Whina will tell the story of the beloved Māori matriarch who spent her life fighting for the rights of her people, especially our wāhine. At almost 80-years-old Cooper became known as the ‘Mother of The Nation’ when she led the first Māori Land March over 1,000 kilometers from Te Hapua in the Far North to Wellington at the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand in 1975.
Deadline wrote last week: "The period drama tackles issues such as traditional gender and cultural roles in NZ society, racism, land rights activism, female empowerment and justice and equality. Through the eyes of Older Whina the film looks back on the formative years of the icon of New Zealand’s political history as she broke gender boundaries and fought for the recognition of her own culture, all the while staying true to her heart and her beliefs."
Funded by Ingenious Media and the New Zealand Film Commission, Whina, which is currently in post-production, was shot entirely on location in New Zealand, with a majority Māori cast and crew, and will be released in Australia and New Zealand by Transmission Films. However a release date has not yet been set.