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Poroporoaki – Ramai Te Miha Patricia Rongomaitara Hayward

July 14 2014

Poroporoaki – Ramai Te Miha Patricia Rongomaitara Hayward

The Māori Party today pays tribute to one of our pioneer film-makers, a photographer, cinematographer and star of the big screen, Ramai Te Miha Patricia Rongomaitara Hayward of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu.

“Ramai took risks, she was bold, she was multi-talented, and she and her film-maker husband Rudall Hayward should always be attributed the status of the first to take New Zealand film to the world,” said Hon Dr Pita Sharples. “Last year I had the privilege of being part of a formal ceremony to receive back a kahu huruhuru that Ramai and Rudall had presented to the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong in 1957. The cloak had been presented to Chairman Mao as a gift on behalf of the late Māori King Koroki and for nine months last year had been on loan to Te Papa. It was such a powerful experience, to relive that history. Ramai and Rudall were the first in the world to film an English-language film inside communist China.”

“What is so special about this kuia is her excellence on so many levels,” said Te Ururoa Flavell. “She played the lead heroine, Ariana, in the 1925 silent film, Rewi’s Last Stand. She was our first Māori woman film-maker, scriptwriter, editor and camerawoman. She was New Zealand’s first professional Māori photographer, a portrait artist and in her time the only cine-camera woman in both New Zealand and England. She documented our history at home (Song of Jerusalem, shot on location beside the Whanganui River); and abroad (Inside Red China). She showed us ourselves in the controversial 1972 documentary, To Love a Māori (which was also New Zealand’s first colour feature film). We should all be proud of her film-making legacy and her incredible accomplishments over 98 years of life.”

“She has a special place in our history for demonstrating the courage and tenacity of wahine Māori to stand up and be counted,” said Hon Tariana Turia. “I remember reading an account of her determination to fight plans to sell the Cape Palliser Lighthouse and surrounding land to international buyers. Just as quickly as farmers were opening the bar to the lake, Ramai and other Māori women were going back down there and filling it up. It was a battle she was determined to win – to protect the land her tupuna, Hemi Te Miha, had fought for.”

“Ramai once told the local paper that she was supposed to die at the age of ten, but that Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana had saved her,” said Mrs Turia. “She said then that she was not really supposed to be in this world. I think we can all be grateful that Ramai went on to instead make our world so much richer for the insights she brought to her work. Hayward Films presented Māori issues in a positive frame in a time when few other film-makers were so inclined. It would be fascinating to see the collaboration that Ramai and Rudall brought to a documentary called The World is Turning Towards the Coloured People, which I believe never made it to the box office.”

“Moe mai, e te kuia rangatira.”

Background notes
In 2005 Ramai Hayward was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Wairoa Māori Film Festival for outstanding contribution to Maori film-making; and the following year was awarded a MNZM. She has also received the Sir Kingi Ihaka award which recognises Māori artists' contribution to strengthening the continuity of Māori culture through their support of ngā toi Māori. Ramai was patron of the International Women in Film and Television organisation; and a kuia for the New Zealand Film Commission.

It is understood that the whanau are planning a memorial service to be held in Auckland in August. They welcome thoughts and wishes to be sent to the following email address that has been established to honour Ramai's life, and will advise those who make contact about the service details which are yet to be finalised. The email address is beautifulaunty@woosh.co.nz


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