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Rewi’s Last Stand / The Last Stand


Wed 12 Oct 2016, 5:00pm–6:15pm

Where: Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, National Library Building, 70 Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General Admission: $10.25 ea ($10.00 + $0.25 fees)
  • Concession Admission: $8.20 ea ($8.00 + $0.20 fees)
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Screening as part of the “Films that shaped New Zealand – Celebrating 120 Years of Cinema” series.

"Entirely surrounded, outnumbered six to one, battered and hungry, a gallant 300 Maori men and women manned the crumbling battlements of Orakau Pa and flung defiance in the face of the British general who asked them to surrender. Here is New Zealand’s own motion picture written by a New Zealander, produced by New Zealanders, with music by our own Alfred Hill and enacted by a cast of the Dominion’s most experienced players, including Leo Pilcher, Stanley Knight, and the beautiful Maori actress. Ramai Te Miha." – "The Dominion," 26 July 1940.

A remake of his 1925 silent film of the same name, this is the film the pioneering director Rudall Hayward is best remembered for. It's based on the famous battle of Ōrākau, when Rewi Maniapoto and his 300 supporters resisted the advance of over 2,000 British troops during a siege which lasted for three days.

"It is more important that New Zealanders should have produced this film than that they should see one hundred films from Hollywood. In the film your nation expresses itself… It is a good film, and I am surprised how near to producing a Cecil B. de Mille spectacle Mr. Hayward has come." – "The Dominion," 21 June 1940.

Contemporary reviews of the film congratulated it for its historical accuracy, more recent histories have pointed out that it was a product of its time, remarking that:

"Hayward presented both sides of the New Zealand Wars as brave, intelligent warriors, with a sense of chivalry and respect between them. Today, this attitude may seem old-fashioned, a kind of benevolent paternalism, but it was certainly progressive in its day." – Diane Pivac with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald, "New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History," 2011, p.8.

Regardless, Hayward intended the film as a tribute to the heroism of Maniapoto and his followers; today it stands as a tribute to the enterprise and fortitude of its writer, director, and photographer.

This was the first New Zealand feature to be shown on New Zealand television.

The film was restored by the archive in 2012.

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