Film Review by Clayton Barnett
‘Poi E’, a simple song with a catchy beat released 32 years ago, has become New Zealand’s unofficial national anthem. With humour, energy and emotion, the movie POI E is the story of how that iconic song gave pride to generations of New Zealanders. From Taika Waititi giving Stan Walker his quirky take on life in the 1980s to Patea Maori Club members’ straight-talking and funny memories of the song’s visionary originator Dalvanius Prime, director Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion) captures a unique story that taps into the heart of the nation.
The unlikely must see movie of the year is the story of our unlikely pop hit - Poi E - that became one of our most iconic songs ever.
Released back in 1984 by Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Maori Club, you might have thought is there enough of a story about a four minute song? Well there sure is, and after a hilarious and heartwarming 90 minutes it actually leaves you wanting so much more.
Kiwi filmmaker Tearepa Kahi – who made local hit Mt Zion - wrote, directed and exec-produced this doco and you can feel his love for his subject in every frame. He’s tracked down every one involved in making this song happen and it’s these Patea locals - the aunties, the old meat workers and even the guy with the Michael Jackson moves - that have you smiling and cracking up with laughter. He interviews some famous fans too, including the likes of Stan Walker, The Topp Twins, Don McGlashan and Taika Waititi, who used it for the closing credits of Boy which helped it re-enter the charts in 2010.
Even though Dalvanius Prime passed away in 2002, Kahi seamlessly integrates an old in-depth interview to help tell the story of the genesis of Poi E - along with some stunning archival footage from the 70s and 80s. You’ll see old school clips from RTR and the likes of Peter Sinclair, Paul Holmes and Steve Parr, but it’s the archival shots of a changing New Zealand that really takes you back.
It looks amazing too - gorgeously shot by cinematographers Jos Wheeler and Fred Renata who fill the screen with the rich and warm colours of this coastal town. You just want to take a road trip to Patea next summer. And stick around for the credits as you’ll see a translation of the lyrics - they’re a revelation and it will make you even more connected and proud of this unofficial Kiwi anthem.
The feel good movie of the year, The Story of Our Song is a heartwarming, hilarious and toe-tapping timeout that makes you proud to be a Kiwi.
Releases: 4th August 2016
Duration: 92 minutes
Starring: Dalvanius Prime, Jools Topp, Lynda Topp, Maaka Pohatu, Stan Walker, Patea Maori Club, Ngoi Pewhairangi
Director: Tearepa Kahi