31 May 2010

Maori film-maker Merata Mita dies

8:30 pm on 31 May 2010

Pioneer Maori film-maker Merata Mita has died, after collapsing in Auckland on Monday. She was 68.

Ms Mita, of Ngati Pikiao and Ngaiterangi iwi, began using film and video while teaching at Kawerau College in the Bay of Plenty in the 1970s.

She shot to prominence with her work on the documentary Bastion Point - Day 507 about the last day of the Auckland land occupation.

Patu, about the 1981 Springbok rugby tour followed, the first feature-length documentary directed by a New Zealand woman.

With 1988's Mauri, Ms Mita became only the second-ever Maori woman to direct a feature film.

Ms Mita spent much of the 1990s working alongside her then partner, director Geoff Murphy, in the United States.

Most recently, she had been part of the producing team on this year's hit movie Boy directed by Taika Waititi.

Ms Mita died after collapsing on the steps of Maori Television's headquarters in Auckland where she had been attending a meeting about an upcoming special.