MWFF Ruahine
MWFF Ruahine
Ruahine: Stories in Her Skin (2019)

ACMI & Melbourne Women in Film Festival presents

Ruahine: Stories in Her Skin + Pasifika Stories Bundle

Hiona Henare | Aotearoa New Zealand | 2019 | MA15+
Virtual cinema

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Rental Price



17 Feb - 24 Feb 2021

Hiona Henare's beautifully lyrical and intimate documentary closes in tightly on the art and meaning of tatau in Ruahine: Stories in her Skin, among the winners at this year's FIFO in Tahiti.

In receiving their traditional moko kauae (chin tattoos) Māori women are visually asserting their birthright and identity while celebrating the mana (spiritual power) of their whakapapa (ancestry). Taking viewers inside two moko kauae ceremonies, Ruahine explores the powerful and personal reasons why women get the tattoo; a practice once suppressed through legislation and now experiencing a resurgence. Henare's access delivers an uninhibited and unobstructed experience, filled with traditional songs and story.

This screening is accompanied by short films Pasifika Stories: Taonga kiriata poto conversation with filmmaker, Hiona Henare.

Format: Digital
Language: English, Māori
Source: Brown Bitty Pictures, Muaūpoko Trial Authority
Runtime: 40

Event duration

40 mins



Not recommended for people under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians

Pasifika short films included in this package


Directors, Writers & Producers: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson | United States | 2020 | 8 mins

A strong contender for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, Kapaemahu tells the stories of four extraordinary individuals with spirits that transcend the gender binary who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii. Beloved by the people for their gentle ways and miraculous cures, they imbued four giant boulders with powers, which now stand on Waikiki Beach. The true story behind them has been hidden – until now.

The Moon and The Night

Director: Erin Lau | United States | 2018 | 19 mins

Set in rural Hawai'i, a Native Hawaiian teenage girl must confront her father after he enters her beloved pet in a dog fight. The film explores undercurrents of personal, cultural, and socio-economic strife in Hawaiʻi, but at its heart, it is a coming-of-age tale of a young woman who must make the difficult realisation that to save her family, she must stand on her own.

Our Atoll Speaks, Ko Talatala Mai Tō Mātou Wenua

Director: Gemma Cubero del Barrio | Writers: Gemma Cubero del Barrio, Amelia Rachel Hokule'a Borofsky, Florence Ngatokorua "Johnny" Tiane Frisbie | Producer: Gemma Cubero del Barrio, Amelia Rachel Hokule'a Borofsky | United States | 2019 | 12 mins

The communal film poem meditates on the environmental knowledge of the people of Pukapuka/Nassau, an atoll in the Northern Group of the Cook Islands. As climate changes poses the biggest threat to our oceans, islands, diversity, Indigenous knowledge and conservation practices developed over thousands of years have something to teach us.


Director: Victoria Hunt | Writers: Victoria Hunt, Margot Nash | Producer: Margot Nash | Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom | 2020 | 9 mins

TAKE (te reo Māori: issue, promise, challenge) weaves mana wahine (female knowledge), dance and archival materials to retell the story of the removal of the ancestral Māori meetinghouse, Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito, from Aotearoa, New Zealand to England in 1892. Set in the liminal spaces between history and emotion TAKE unfolds a story of origins, of traumatic events and colonial violence.

Standing Above the Clouds

Director: Jalena Keane-Lee | Writer: Diana Diroy | Producer: Amber Espinosa-Jones, Jalena Keane-Lee, Pua Case | United States | 2019 | 15 mins

Standing Above the Clouds is a story of inter-generational women activists, who call themselves Ku Kia'i Mauna, or guardians of the mountain. The film follows three sets of mothers and daughters indigenous to the Big Island of Hawaii, at the forefront of the movement to protect their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, from an eighteen-story, Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).


Director & Writer: Kath Akuhata-Brown | Producer: Verity Mackintosh, Julian Arahanga | New Zealand | 2020 | 6 mins

New Zealand. Present Day. Māori elder Hamo, travels to her homeland to pay her respects to her people. While there, she is overwhelmed by memories of the past. Burdened by that past, she continues the journey to the top of her tribe’s sacred mountain.