Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) adapts the Witi Ihimaera novel Bulibasha, the story of a rivalry between two sheep-shearing families set on New Zealand's East Coast in the 1960s. Stars Temuera Morrison.... More

14-year-old Simeon Mahana (Akuhata Keefe), the youngest son of the youngest son, is in conflict with his traditionalist grandfather, Tamihana (Temuera Morrison). As Simeon unravels the truth behind the longstanding family vendetta he risks not just his own future prospects but the cohesion of the entire tight-knit society.

Screenwriter John Collee adapted the book to film, who is best known for writing the 2003 Oscar-winning feature Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.Hide

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Flicks Review

It’s not often I’ve seen a preview audience bursting into spontaneous applause after a viewing, but as the credits rolled on Lee Tamahori’s deft retelling of Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera, it was inevitable, possibly because we had barely wiped the tears from our eyes at the time.... More

Mahana manages to tweak the full suite of emotions, nostalgia being one of them. Set in 1960s rural Gisborne, it’s an ode to an era and a people, but specifically it’s a tale of two families and the secrets and loves that bind them.

As Grandpa Mahana, the gruff patriarch of small tribe of sheep shearers, Tem Morrison can’t help but remind you of Jake the Muss, as he bullies everyone, especially his grim wife (Nancy Brunning), but the Mahana at the heart of this story is young Simeon, played artfully by Akuhata Keefe. It’s one of those performances that elevates a film into something magical and promises an exciting career to boot. Jim Moriarty is in cracking form too, as Rupeni Poata, head of the dreaded family whose feud with the Mahanas is the fuel that runs the show.

Sheep shearing has never looked so exciting or been given such screen time. As a metaphor for getting to the truth the removal of wool is pretty handy, and so Tamahori’s camera isn’t satisfied with a few strokes of the shears, we get to see the entire pelt removed, nicks and all.

From the opening scenes, which took me from The Waltons to Mad Max via the best kiwi car chase scene ever staged, Mahana is a pure delight, despite some mystical carry on involving computer-generated bees.

As he showed us with Once Were Warriors, Tamahori’s ability to view Aotearoa through the Hollywood lens is unequaled. With Mahana he’s made another, if somewhat gentler, classic.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 8 ratings, 5 reviews
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BY Newt superstar

A really good case study set in Poverty Bay, Gisborne about the balance of power in families, between genders, and within NZ society itself.The movie explores several other important issues of life in NZ such as domestic violence and Maori ties to the land and its animals. Strong performances from a talented cast especially Akuhata Keefe as Simeon and Nancy Brunning as Ramona Mahana - Simeon's grandmother and wife to the always dependable Tem Morrison's Tamihana Mahana. CGI bees and rain took a... More bit of the shine off but still a great movieHide

BY JuliaLee lister

Well crafted with a real talent for forming an emotional connection with the audience. Excellent acting and a captivating story about rural family life and about finding your way through adversity.

BY ANn-Kidd wannabe

A thoroughly enjoyable movie which will make you smile, laugh, cheer and maybe even come close to a tear - but not quite.
And yes it is a trip down memory lane for some of us with the cars from our youth, houses we once lived in and school room antics.
Reflects life as it once was and still is for some. Not as graphic as Once were Warriors but retains the Maori humour many of us love and embrace. Great to see many of NZ's favourite actors, welcome back Jim Moriarty.

BY flapper123 superstar

This film gave me a sense of belonging to a time not quite lost. No hesitation in the flow of the story, although there were a few tense moments, there was a gentleness about it all.

I loved the rural setting for this film, the old delapidated home, clearing the land of manuka and shrub, dirt roads, narrow bridges, shearing competitions.

Beautifully filmed and directed and supported by a strong cast.

Enjoyed every minute of this movie. All the actors were strong and believable, the scenery was wonderful and it captured the feeling of the mid 20th century. I laughed and cried. I whole-heartedly recommend it.

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The Press Reviews

67% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

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  • One consistent is the sweet, tenderness on show, diluting the more severe, poignant aspects with a geniality that ensures this remains an undemanding, entertaining piece of cinema. Full Review

The Talk
96 %

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