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Te Koha O Whaea Irihapeti


Te Koha O Whaea Irihapeti – The Gift of Sister Elizabeth

The last in line of Bishop Pompallier’s Sisters of Mercy organises an Easter gift for her hometown of Pawarenga in the new documentary TE KOHA O WHAEA IRIHAPETI.

Screening in Maori Television’s New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday October 11 at 8.30 PM, TE KOHA O WHAEA IRIHAPETI follows Sister Elizabeth Ihaka as she returns to the small Maori community in the far North after many years.

Sister Elizabeth – who believes she knows how to answer the needs of those young who have lost contact with their Maori identity – notes that the people of Pawarenga have missed several of their milestone celebrations. Easter 2006 is when the Catholic Church, the mission school and the marae all celebrate their centenaries at the same time.

Sister Elizabeth has been working secretly for more than six months creating a surprise for the locals. They will be greeted in the hall by walls covered with photographs and pictorial family trees of themselves and their ancestors, traced as far back as the beginning of Bishop Pompallier’s Pawarenga mission – a huge task which is her own personal gift to them.

“There are lost people among them, among both hosts and guests, and often what they have lost is one another,” says producer Yvonne Mackay who is also managing director of Wellington-based Production Shed.TV. which made the documentary. “By looking together at the arranged photographs, they will reconnect with one another and their whakapapa.”

Sister Elizabeth, who has worked with youth at risk from alcohol and drugs for many years, is nervous of how her community will react to her ‘gift’, which she feels will bring a measure of new life to the people of Pawarenga. Most important of all, will her efforts give Sister Elizabeth the acceptance of her people and bring her closer to her community?

This is the first documentary feature for presenter Ngawai Greenwood. She says she was fascinated with Sister Elizabeth’s personal story and the relationship between Catholicism and Maori spirituality.

TE KOHA O WHAEA IRIHAPETI screens in Maori Television’s New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday October 11 at 8.30 PM.



Year 2006
Censor General Exhibition (G)
Duration 60-minute documentary film
Language Maori with English language subtitles

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