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Maori Boy Genius


A young Maori boy from humble beginnings carries the hopes of his people on his shoulders as he races through school and starts university at the age of 14. This is the story of two cultures colliding within one boy, who shows remarkable potential for becoming a future world leader and creating political zeitgeist shifts to speak for indigenous peoples. Will Ngaa fulfil the dreams of his family and the expectations of his tribe?


  • Variety Review
    What if some shrewd filmmaker had recognized Barack Obama’s boyhood promise and documented the birth of his political consciousness as a teen? In “Maori Boy Genius,” documaker Pietra Brettkelly (“The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins”) may well be profiling New Zealand’s future prime minister. Despite the hyperbolic title, subtitled “Volume One,” the low-key pic is an inspiring look at the education and training of charismatic, articulate 16-year-old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, pegged since birth as a future leader. A smart choice for broadcasters and fests, “Genius” should have a healthy shelf life in educational ancillary.
  • Wall Street Journal
    Maori Boy Genius” deals with the broader issue of indigenous minorities attempting to preserve their culture while working within established governments and education systems. The New Zealand documentary tracks 16-year-old prodigy Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti as he attends summer school at Yale and applies to study there full-time.
  • Flicks Review
    “…he’s such a magnetic character that I’m already hanging out for the sequel.”

Festival Participation

  • Warsaw Film Festival - 2012
  • Planet in Focus Film Festival, Toronto - 2012
  • Buster Film Festival, Copenhagen - 2012
  • New Zealand International Film Festival - 2012
  • Melbourne International Film Festival - 2012
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest - 2012
  • Sydney Film Festival - 2012
  • Berlin Film Festival - 2012

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

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