First NZ Star of Silver Screen
NZ’s first movie star has died in a Rotorua hospital aged 101. Witarina Harris, of Ngati Whakaue descent, was chosen by Universal Pictures to star as Princess Miro in the 1928 silent film Under the Southern Cross (later overdubbed as The Devil’s Pit). Shot in NZ, the film was rediscovered by the late archivist Jonathan Dennis, who provided a copy to the NZ Film Archives. Witarina Harris became the Film Archives’ patron and travelled to film festivals in Europe till her mid-90s. She was presented with a Taiki Ngapara lifetime achievement award at the NZ Film Archives 25th anniversary gathering in December 2006.
Witarina Harris: died in 2007