Martial arts film fans will get a taste of the traditional fighting arts of the New Zealand-based Maori in an upcoming film entitled THE DEAD LANDS.

The film, which begins principal photography in the new few days as of this writing, is being directed by local arthouse filmmaker Toa Fraser. The film is set in period New Zealand, where a young Maori chieftain’s son seeks revenge on the people responsible for destroying his tribe. To achieve this, he must enter the titular area and forge an alliance with a mysterious warrior. The cast will include James Rolleston, Rena Owen, Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, and George Henare.

Having researched some information on the Maori fighting arts, this style has rarely been documented yet it is still trained and consists of both hand-to-hand combat (“mau”) and weapon combat. The weapons used including fighting sticks (“mau rakau”) and clubbed weapons. The most well-known weapon in this style is the “taiaha”, a staff made of either wood of whale bone used for close quarters combat. For more information, check out Fight Times’ article on the Maori martial arts.

XYZ Films, who helped produce THE RAID: REDEMPTION, will be handling the international business for THE DEAD LANDS, which is due for release next year.

Image: Taiaha training at Tamaki Heritage Experiences.

  • John Firth

    Last time I saw any Maori stuff, it was Once Were Warriors. Probably Utu before that. Seems a pretty much untapped well.

  • Tere

    Hmmm… I don’t know about this, if it’s to be a traditional Maori based movie then it would need to be in Te Reo… filming it in English would class it as another Hollywood screw up.