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By Charlie David Page
5th June 2012

Can you remember what life was like as a 16 year old? Most would probably say enjoying the last years of school, with enough pressure on you just to get through the experience. But what if you also had the entire future of a race's history, legacy and fortune riding on your success?

That's the everyday life for Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, the young man at the centre of 'Maori Boy Genius'. He's been chosen by some of the elders in his tribe to keep the Maori culture alive and bring them into a new era. Ngaa Rauuira seems okay with that; he was speaking English at 4, and had his first university degree at the age of 12. His love for politics makes him strive to become New Zealand's future Prime MInister, and to do that, he wants the best political education the world can provide: Yale.


It's a slightly peculiar life that Ngaa Rauuira leads; he has five brothers and sisters, but from a young age has been living with his grandparents as a part of tradition. He's immersed in Maori culture, can speak the language (a skill that's steadily disappeared in New Zealand - his grandfather has never spoken it), and is fiercely protective of the land, involving himself in protests. Certainly not your typical 16 year old boy.

This film slowly reveals the heavy expectations placed on Ngaa Rauuira by his family, his school and his tribe. Without doubt, he's a smart kid and knows what he wants, but it's an awful lot to ask anyone at that age to be the future leader for Maori people. As the story emerges, the pressure does start to get to Ngaa Rauuira, and he begins to doubt himself.

It's interesting to watch a small snapshot of Maori history and the current situation they face in New Zealand.

This insight into such a unique subject is brought to us by the film's director, writer and producer, Sundance award-winning Pietra Brettkelly. It's interesting to watch a small snapshot of Maori history and the current situation they face in New Zealand. Moreso, Ngaa Rauuira is a boy trying to live in both the traditional and modern worlds - and trying to please everyone, including himself.

Could Ngaa Rauuira be a revolutionary leader? It's entirely possible. What is certain is that big things are to come for him - so catch a glimpse of the Maori Boy Genius before he grows up.

RELEASE DATE: 09/06/2012
RUN TIME: 1h 30m
CAST: Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Pietra Brettkelly
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