Poi E tops $1 million at box office

11:51 am on 5 September 2016

The documentary about the origins of the Māori song Poi E has reached $1 million at the New Zealand box office.

It's the third New Zealand documentary to achieve this milestone after the Topp Twins, Untouchable Girls and Home by Christmas.

The documentary shows how Dalvanius Prime co-wrote Poi E with Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi and persuaded the Patea Māori Club to perform it 32 years ago

The film has been in cinemas around the country for five weeks.

Ticket sales in the film's hometown of Hawera were the second busiest in the country in its opening week.

The documentary's producer, director and writer, Tearepa Kahi, said it was a significant milestone because it showed many New Zealanders were connecting and falling in love with the film.

"I've received so many messages from New Zealanders over the past five weeks, young and old, whose eyes have been opened by Dalvanius, Ngoi and the Pātea Māori Club.

People from all walks of life have been moved emotionally and culturally. I believe when we all understand how far they took our language and culture, it gives us all strength to take it that much further today."

A percentage of the film's earnings go to the Patea Māori Club and the whānau of Prime, who wrote the waiata.

A re-release of the song has also done well, reaching number four on the music charts.

In 1984, Poi E reached number one and remained in the charts for 34 weeks, outselling Michael Jackson's Thriller, Stevie Wonder's I Just Called to Say I Love You, and every other hit of 1984.

Poi E was the first and still the only number one song written entirely in te reo Māori.

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