Mia comes from a family immersed in screen production, her father (Mark Teirney) was a cameraman and DoP, and her mother (Ella Henry) is a Māori screen academic and one of those who founded Ngā Aho Whakaari (the Māori screen industry guild), in 1996. Mia is part of a blended family, with 8 siblings (sisters, half-sisters, step-sisters and a step-brother), many also working in the screen industry. After completing a Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in HR at AUT, Mia worked in retail and customer service, in New Zealand and Australia. Living in Australia, seeing how minorities and the Indigenous people of Australia are treated prompted her to move home, as she felt “a sense of obligation to do something for my people”. On returning Mia secured a role at the New Zealand Film Commission in Wellington. There she was mentored by renowned Māori-Samoan film maker Whetu Fala (Fala Media), in the Short Film Department, “where we were basically the only two Māori, in this government body that funds and produces New Zealand stories, which stimulated me to want to become a story-teller myself”.
Auckland University of Technology
Not long after, Mia met Todd Karehana, who was completing his Master of Film Studies at the University of Auckland. Todd wrote the semi-autobiographical tale, My Brother Mitchell, a story that incorporates mystical elements and explores loss, grief, spirituality, and the strength of aroha (love) and whanaungatanga (family) through tragedy, set against beautiful landscapes in Aotearoa NZ. Mia and Todd raised funds through crowd-sourcing (Boosted, 2016), cleaned out their savings, then received an investment grant from the Ngā Aho Whakaari Short Film Fund. Through Robin they were introduced to Alun Bollinger, an award-winning DoP, who has worked on films like Heavenly Creatures, River Queen, and second unit of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. AlBol, as he is affectionately known in the industry, was so taken with the story, that he literally moved in with Todd for a month, preparing and story-boarding the script. “I know not many people have had that experience, and Todd feels very blessed, because AlBol was extremely generous with his knowledge and humble”.
They shot the film, which Todd directed, over six days in Kawerau (the rural town where Todd was born) and Auckland’s wild West Coast, in December 2016. Cast were drawn from local communities in the Bay of Plenty, and many of the crew volunteered their time. Christina Asher (actor, casting agent, producer) and Hineani Melbourne (producer and director), respectively Chair and EO of Ngā Aho Whakaari at the time, worked on-set, alongside Mia’s sister, Merenia (in continuity), mother (catering) and father (camera assist), whilst Todd’s whānau, his mother and sister, are in the film and worked alongside crew, and their community supported and were included, particularly at his Marae, Ruaihona, in Te Teko.
Next, Mia is looking to transmedia, digital story-telling and web-series, focussing on home-grown stories, from an Antipodean perspective, because, “as New Zealanders and as Māori, we have a particular view of the world, look at Moana, and Taika Waititi has opened a door for us that didn’t exist previously”. No doubt, Mia Marama Henry-Teirney is ready to enter that doorway.
ABC News (2017). Monkey (Magic) is being rebooted.
Boosted (2016). My Brother Mitchell.
Facebook (n.d.) My Brother Mitchell.
Fala Media (n.d.) Whetu Fala.
Lee Tamahori, Director (n.d.).
NZonScreen (n.d.) Robin Scholes, Producer.
WIFT NZ (2016) Q & A with Robin Scholes.
Witi Ihimaera (n.d.)