Poi E – The Story of our Song Duration: 92 minutes Director: Tearepa Kahi Cast: Dalvanius Prime, Ngoi Pēwhairangi & Pātea Māori Club with Taika Waititi, Stan Walker and the Topp Twins Country: Aotearoa, New Zealand (2016)
‘Poi E’ is the story of a number one hit that outsold ‘Thriller’ in Aotearoa, New Zealand to become a cultural taonga for generations ….
POI E is the story of the creation of New Zealand’s iconic song of celebration, the song that became the unofficial national anthem. A ground-breaking mash-up of 1980s pop music, traditional Māori waiata and bop dancing, ‘Poi E’ was a unique product of its time.
Written and directed by Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion), POI E takes the audience on a laugh-and-cry emotional journey as it lays out the hard-scrabble context from which the song was born and the relationships which shaped the song and propelled it forward.
Dalvanius Prime, a musician with an international R&B career and a Motown dream, but divorced from his Māori identity, returned home to nurse his dying mother and discovered a new dream - to bring Te Reo Māori to the younger generation through pop music with a uniquely Māori flavour. He co-composed ‘Poi E’ with Māori language composer Ngoi Pēwhairangi and persuaded his family, The Patea Māori Club, to perform it.
Along the way, he gathered a diverse and talented bunch of collaborators to record the song, make a music video and take all the steps necessary to get it to Number 1 on the charts. This included hustling up investment from family and local Patea businesspeople, who recall the moment with pride.
The film is told largely in Dalvanius’ own words and features many truly Kiwi characters who were there at the time in poignant, often hilarious recollections.