Kāinga Narrative Film


Director(s)Julie Zhu, Asuka Sylvie, Michelle Ang, Nahyeon Lee, Yamin Tun, Ghazaleh Gol, HASH, Angeline Loo
Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton, Shuchi Kothari
Type of TextScript


Kāinga is an anthology film of eight stories exploring the theme of home in Aotearoa from an Asian perspective. Written and directed entirely by pan-Asian female filmmakers, the stories are presented chronologically and set in a single location – a house which changes owners and residents from 1972 to the present day. Blending the multi-generational experiences of women and children from Māori-Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Indian, Iranian, Tamil Eelam and Chinese backgrounds, the film addresses a range of topical and under-represented issues, including “historical connection to tangata whenua, feelings of isolation, community support in lieu of family, home precarity, excitement about making home, longing to be ‘back home’, being othered at home, and finally claiming home.”

The first story, Aho, centres on a teenager (Mya Williamson) of mixed cultural heritage, who is tasked with healing the rift between her Māori Nan (Rena Owen) and Aunty Ying (Vicki Lu) after the death of her grandfather. Directed by Chinese New Zealand filmmaker Julie Zhu and written by Mei-Lin Te Puea Hansen of Tainui (Ngāti Mahanga), Chinese and Pākehā descent, Aho builds on Hansen’s 2015 play The Mooncake and the Kumara, about her grandparents’ romance in the market gardens of early 20th century New Zealand, by reflecting on the history and legacy of Māori-Chinese families.

Written and directed by Asuka Sylvie, a filmmaker of Japanese and Scottish heritage, Mikasa focuses on the isolated domestic life of a young Japanese immigrant (Izumi Sugihara) and her struggle to find grounding in a new country. Similarly, Candy, written by filmmaker Mia Maramara and directed by actor Michelle Ang, of Filipino and Malaysian heritage respectively, looks at the distance of migration and the sacrifices made by a Filipina nurse (Patricia Senocbit), whose daughter is pregnant back in Manila.

Soo Young, written and directed by Korean New Zealand film and theatremaker Nahyeon Lee, follows the disruptive, defiant actions of a six-year-old girl (Eliana Hwang) when potential house buyers rudely invade the home her family is renting. Parvati, written by Shreya Gejji and directed by Yamin Tun, filmmakers of Indian and Myanmar heritage respectively, depicts a boisterous Ganpati Puja and the mixed feelings of a recent Indian immigrant (Sneha Shetty), who is comforted by this gathering but also anxious about her father, who remains in Bombay.

Written and directed by Iranian New Zealand actor and filmmaker Ghazaleh Gol, Parisa portrays an argument between a husband and wife (Masoumeh Hesam), whose daughter plays quietly while they debate the pros and cons of living and working in Aotearoa versus their native Iran, in a home they’re merely house sitting. In Vena, the same house, now occupied by its owners (Miranda Harcount and Jim Moriarty), is visited by a young woman carrying a spade (Dharshi Ponnampalam). Written and directed by Tamil Eelam New Zealand filmmaker Hash Perambalam (aka HASH), the drama unfolds in the backyard, where the emotional search for a buried time capsule takes place.

The final story, Eva, written and directed by Chinese New Zealand screenwriter Angeline Loo, is set in the present day and concerns a New Zealand-born Chinese mother (Katlyn Wong). At home without her partner and struggling to put their baby to sleep, she confronts her noisy immigrant Chinese neighbours – and in doing so, her own prejudices.

Kāinga follows the work of producers Kerry Warkia (Papua New Guinean Scottish) and Kiel McNaughton (Māori Chinese Pākehā) on Waru (2017) and Vai (2019), earlier anthology films comprising stories by Māori women and Pasifika women filmmakers respectively. Indian New Zealand screenwriter and producer Shuchi Kothari joined Warkia and McNaugton to produce Kāinga, the final chapter of the trilogy.

A signature of the trilogy, Kāinga, like Waru and Wai before it, required each director to shoot their story in a single, continuous ten-minute take. Entering pre-production in 2020, principal photography was delayed until February 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kāinga received its world premiere at Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival in July the same year, followed by selection to several international film festivals abroad, before being released on RNZ’s website for streaming in August 2023.


Key works / presentations

2023 — Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
2022 — Hawai’i International Film Festival
2022 — Melbourne International Film Festival
2022 — Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

Key awards

2022 — Hawai’i International Film Festival: NETPAC Award (Best Asian Film), Leanne K Ferrer Trailblazer Award (Kerry Warkia), Special Mention (Pasifika Feature Film category)

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Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit