Saving Our Myrtles

Saving Our Myrtles”, produced by Fiona Apanui-Kupenga and directed by Kaea Hills, on release in March 2024, is a hopeful documentary follow-up to “Mate Tipu, Mate Rākau, 2021” *. 

Saving our Myrtles” begins with archival footage of building a Pā Tauremu (fish weir) on the Waiapu River and the last known harvest  of Upokororo (now extinct), and then segues into a re-enactment of this event 100 years later in 2023. The Pā Tauremu, originally created by Paratene Ngata, Te Rangi Hīroa, James McDonald, Elsdon Best and Johannes Anderson in 1923, was constructed with two native myrtles – Kānuka and Mānuka, as was the 2023 re-enactment.

Kaitieki Graeme Atkins posits: “They are native myrtles. Whose to say that within a 100 years, because of the introduction of myrtle rust now, they [Mānuka and Kānuka) may or may not be still with us. All that mātauranga around traditional ways of sourcing kai, growing kai is in real risk of being lost.”

“Saving our Myrtles” focuses on the mahi of Te Whakapae Ururoa: Community Myrtle Rust Surveillance Project. 

The hau kāinga are part of the monitoring process helping to find a solution to Myrtle Rust. Te Whakapae Ururoa tracks the spread an infestation across critical sites on the East coast coastline. “Saving our Myrtles” provides an overview of the work undertaken and the building of expert knowledge and investigations – an integral part of kaitiekitanga.

Of major concern to the hau kainga is the threat to taonga rakau including Te Waha o Rerekohu (Te Araroa), the largest Pōhutukawa in Aotearoa. The disease has already been found on this taonga.

“Saving our Myrtles” provides a voice to the local kaitiekitanga. 

"Saving Our Myrtles" 16:08 / Producer Fiona Apanui-Kupenga, Te Amokura Productions / Director Kaea Hills

Fiona Apanui-Kupenga (Ngati Porou) is the founder, producer and director of Te Amokura Productions. For eight years she has been making video work around Māori success on the global stage, confront domestic violence and sexual abuse to exploring our taiao. “Maori stories, our talent, our triumphs and skills are what drive me to make programmes.”

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