Regional | Film

Rachel House’s first feature film set on Taranaki Maunga

Rachel House and the three tamariki who play leading roles in The Mountain. Source: File

Actor Rachel House has revealed the teaser trailer of her directorial debut film, The Mountain, shot on Taranaki Maunga.

The Mountain is a tale about three children on an adventure to find healing under the watchful eye of Taranaki Maunga and discover friendship.

It is centered on a fearless young girl Sam raised outside her Māori culture, determined to fulfill her mission of connecting with her mountain, with two friends in the hope they can heal her from the cancer she battles.

The film was co-written by House, well known for her roles in Moana, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy and Whale Rider, and Tom Furniss, shot with support from Taranaki whānui.

“With the generosity of mana whenua we have been able to represent Taranaki in this story about longing, resilience, and healing with three pretty cool kids living their best lives,” House says.

Taranaki Maunga, and the surrounding peaks Pouakai and Kaitake, are viewed by iwi as ancestors. The mountains have recently been given legal personhood as part of a redress for their confiscation 157 years ago.

“The mountain was central to the story, so it was an amazing gift to be able to shoot the majority of our movie in Taranaki. It is only fitting that our worldwide premiere be there too,” House says.

Misfits fit

In the film, Sam meets some misfits and new kids in town including Mallory, who is hoping to find friends, and Bronco who claims to be a runaway from his dad, who is too busy to notice him. As they make their way through the difficult off-the-beaten-track route, they learn the true spirit of adventure and the magic of friendship.

Three tamariki actors play debut leading roles. They are Elizabeth Atkinson, of Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Tama and Kāi Tahu; Reuben Francis; and Terence Daniel, of Ngāti Kahungunu, Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga and Aitutaki.

They are joined by Troy Kingi, of Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Byron Coll, Fern Sutherland and Sukena Shah.

The Mountain is produced by Desray Armstrong for Sandy Lane Productions and Morgan Waru for Piki Films with Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi and Paul Wiegard serving as executive producers.

Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, the Regional Film Office, will host the world premiere in New Plymouth on March 19.

“This is a significant and exciting event for our region as we celebrate the launch of this heart-felt feature, and we’re proud to have supported the extremely talented production team, cast, and crew, along with the premiere as the Taranaki Regional Film Office,” Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki spokesperson Brylee Flutey says.

The film will be released nationwide on March 28.