Poi E is a ‘feel good’ New Zealand documentary type film. It provides a warm, intimate, and informative story about a well-known song, and the people who played a major part in putting it all together, performing to national and international audiences.
It is a story about Dalvanius Prime who conceived the song. Although he was Maori he was more associated with NZ pop culture than traditional Maori music. Once Poi E was recorded, it became an iconic song that was a world away from what was traditional Maori music.
It is also the story of the Patea Maori Club and the town of Patea. The final outcome was a New Zealand song that stormed to the top of the Hit Parade and held its place against international artists for weeks.
There is so much more to it than a four minute song. We get a look into its beginnings in the early 1980’s and the impact of hard economic times on the small town of Patea, through to the attendance of the Patea Maori Club at the 1985 Royal Command concert in Edinburgh before the Queen and Princess Anne. It also follows through to present day memories of people associated with Dalvanius, the Patea Maori Club and the town of Patea including comments made by singer Stan Walker, film director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy) and the Topp Twins.
One thing that really surprised me was that although assistance with funding for the Patea Maori Club to attend the Royal Command concert was requested from the government, it was declined. Government would have well been aware of the quality of the Patea Maori Club as the then Prime Minister, David Lange, had previously attended one of their concerts.
The film works hard to identify the impact a group from a small New Zealand town had on a wide UK audience and the exposure our country received as a result of the visit.
The film is expertly put together by Director Te Arepa Kahi who used a great deal of archived film clips, and many of the original people associated with the events of the making of Poi E.
In no time, a very satisfied audience had come to the end of the 96-minute film.
It was first time I have seen an audience sit through a long list of credits and acknowledgements that highlighted just how many resources had come together under the leadership of a very talented director to make the film possible.
Poi E; the song has changed our culture forever and the film that has been made primarily for a New Zealand audience deserves a four-star rating.