Bay of Plenty-born director Merata Mita has died in Auckland. Broadcaster Joanna Paul told The New Zealand Herald that Mita was an icon and her death, a massive loss. Paul said she met her friend 3 years ago on her first day of work on a TVNZ drama about Maori protesters. “Even at the time she was this iconic, charismatic figure,” Paul said. “She was working on her film about Takaparawha [Bastion Pt] and trying to hide her footage from the cop raids that happened at her post-production suite all the time. You couldn’t help but be attracted to her.” Rhonda Kite, who has been working with the film-maker and author Patricia Grace on a screen adaptation of Grace’s novel Cousins for the past seven years, said Mita was a formidable woman. “She didn’t suffer fools. She had that sense of who she was and what she stood for that needed no explanation as far as she was concerned.” Director Hinewehi Mohi said that edge was lined with a wicked sense of humour and the “giggle of a teenager”. Mita received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Years Honours list earlier this year. she was one of the first Maori to direct a feature film, Mauri in 1988 and more recently, helped to produce Boy, Taika Waititi’s hit film. Thought to be in her 6s, Mita is survived by six children, as well as her grandchildren.
Merata Mita: 19 June 1942 – 31 May 2010