The son of influential filmmaker Merata Mita says he found out about his mother’s abortion while conducting research on a film he's made about her.
Heperi Mita spent five years looking through archival footage and interviewing his five siblings about his mother who passed away in 2010.
“The most emotional piece of footage I found was my mum in 1977 talking about her own experience with abortion," he says, "That’s the very first recording there is of my mother, her start in the industry. That was a hell of a way to make an appearance."
He says he's proud of his mum's honesty.
"It raised a lot of questions, but in the end it made me respect her even more for making that stand.”
Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen’ tells the story of Mita through the eyes of her tamariki.
She was a film pioneer, a trail-blazer who helped shape Māori cinema.
But to her son Hepi she was a loving mother.
“It’s a funny thing about making this movie because my relationship with her is that I’m the pōtiki of my whanau. I’ve always been the baby. By the time I was born, mum had already made a lot of her work."
The 32-year-old spent much of his childhood growing up in Hollywood with Mita and his father, director Geoff Murphy.
At that time, Mita, who hails from Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāi Te Rangi, had established herself as a prominent NZ filmmaker following the critical success of her films Patu! and Mauri.
The film will premiere next month as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival.