AKE AKE AKE an emotive, powerful, and at times confronting three-part documentary recounting events surrounding the historic Ihumātao occupation, available on the MĀORI+ app, 16 July, and premiering 19 JULY 8.30 PM on MĀORI TELEVISION.

For producer Whatanui Flavell, making AKE AKE AKE was a long journey that awoke a sleeping beast inside him, to make sure the story of Ihumātao was told.

“This isn’t just happening in Ihumātao, it's happening everywhere. It’s powerful, it's sad, it’s inspiring but it's also very hopeful for what the future could bring. If we want to move forward as a nation, we need to be able to watch and understand the story of Ihumātao,” said Whatanui Flavell.

With unprecedented access to behind-the-scenes footage shot by cameraman, Conan Fitzpatrick, AKE, AKE, AKE tells an intimate story of loss, betrayal and resilience in the face of adversity.

“I knew about Ihumātao.  However I knew nothing of the hard work by this whānau five years prior to the eviction, let alone the 150 years of injustices that have taken place on that whenua, to those people,” Whatanui Flavell said.

The story is retold retrospectively through the eyes of six Cousins as they recount the heart-breaking experience and the trauma their ancestors endured over decades in their struggles to retain the land.

“I want people to see the connection that this whānau had to their whenua, which meant that they were willing to do absolutely anything to hold on to the last bit of whenua they had,” said Mr Flavell.

‘Ake, ake, ake’ (meaning ‘as long as it takes’) is often preceded by the phrase ‘Ka whawhai tonu mātou’ (‘we will continue to fight’). It is a phrase that has become synonymous with Māori protest.

Coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of the occupation that began in July 2019, AKE, AKE, AKE shows how the inspirational footsteps of protesters past still reverberate to this day.

“This was a campaign that drew its strength and will power from previous land movements. The difference was the use of modern technology to engage, motivate and shake a nation out of complacency.”

Present day inteviews with the movements leaders, including Pania Newton and Qiane Matata-Sipu, makes for inspirational and emotional viewing. The documentary also includes interviews with experts and supporters, including archaeologists, policy advisors and elders.

“The most challenging part of this project was condensing this story in to 3 x 1 hour documentaries. We had to make some tough decisions about what to put in and what to leave out,” said Whatanui Flavell.

AKE AKE AKE provides a fascinating insight into the minds and experiences of these cousins, who were brave enough to defend their whenua.

“Seeing Māori work together as whānau, make decisions as whānau, and draw strength from each other to create a really solid unit, now that is really powerful. And that is one of the lessons we can all learn from Ihumātao.”


Whatanui Flavell (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Taranaki whānui) is a Director/ Producer with over 10 years experience in the Television industry.

Entering into the industry as a TV presenter, Whatanui moved behind the camera as a cameraman, before finally making a move into directing in 2015.

He has worked on multiple productions across both mainstream and Māori platforms, specialising in Māori storytelling. 

Whatanui is a fluent speaker of Te Reo Māori who prides himself in upholding a Māori worldview throughout his work.

Among his show credits are three seasons of the award-winning Waka Huia series, Off the Grid with Pio – another award winner – Wild Kai Legends and others.

Through both his mother's and his father's whakapapa, he comes from a whānau who have been staunch advocates for Māori land movements, and been active in political movements.

EPISODE 1: 19 July 8.30 PM

The first episode investigates the occupation at Ihumātao from the perspective of the leaders of the campaign #ProtectIhumātao. The episode looks at the rise of a generation whose objective was to put a stop to a commercial development that was happening on their front doorstep. We rally with them as they take on the powers that be from the front steps of Parliament to the chambers of council and prepare for a war that looms.

EPISODE 2: 26 July 8.30 PM

After five years of enduring passive occupation on the land, a group of six cousins are faced with defending their land from police officers with eviction papers. A movement grows that will shake the nation..

EPISODE 3: 2 August 8.30 PM

In the final episode of the series, the #ProtectIhumātao campaign grows, so too does the dream. The movement realises its potential and sights are set on stopping development and uniting towards a road to resolution.


For images, interviews or further information, contact:

Kirk MacGibbon

Mātanga Tuku Kōrero / Communications Specialist

MOB: +64 21 20 33 777

EML: kirk.macgibbon@maoritelevision.com