Tapu te Ranga Marae - Documentary

Six years in the making 'Tapu te Ranga Marae' is our latest documentary project premiered at the Doc Edge Festival, screened on Māori TV and featured on the Spinoff.

Tapu te Ranga Marae - Documentary

The history of this project is tied in with the history of the filmmaker’s friendship. Director Vanessa Patea and Producer Ruth Korver met at Tapu te Ranga Marae in 2004, when Ruth filmed a short documentary about Vanessa and her rock art installation painting in Tane Whai Ora, a whare at Tapu te Ranga Marae.

Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington, the world's largest and tallest wooden building in New Zealand made of recycled materials was devastated in a blaze in June 2019. 

The documentary gives us the rich history of the Marae and introduces us to Kaumatua Bruce Stewart in the last years of his life. Through him and the voices of his family, we learn about ‘living Māori’ in an extraordinary Marae, built by a community of gang members, wayward youth, volunteers and the larger family who shared in Bruce’s vision.


Project News

Tapu te Ranga Marae Documentary is screening at Doc Edge

by Vanessa - 20 Feb 2020

We are so happy to announce that our documentary Tapu te Ranga Marae is premiering online and for free at the Doc Edge Festival from June 12th - July 5th 2020.


I have been living in Wellington for over 20 years now. When I first arrived here, I moved into Ribble Street and soon found a home in the friendly seaside suburb that is Island Bay.

My boyfriend at the time went for a walk in the area. When he came back he had amazing tales of this multi-levelled wooden Marae that he had discovered in the hills. 

Over the years, we became involved with the Marae, the forest restoration project, Te Reo Māori classes, doing dishes with the Manuhiri, running music and art workshops and hanging out.

Over this time, I became friends with Bruce, his wife Halima and his youngest children.

In 2003, Bruce asked me to create a Māori Rock Art installation for Tane Whai Ora, one of the original whare. We applied for a grant and got it! It was opened by Darcy Nicolas in 2004. What a huge honour that was!

The Learning Connexion Art School across the valley contacted me to make a documentary on the artwork. This is when I first met Ruth Korver (AKA: My work wife).

It  was her first documentary for the school and little did we know, it would be the beginning of a long working relationship.

I started working with Ruth at the Learning Connexion - Ruth and I would drink wine after work and scheme about making a documentary. 

We had been learning so much about making documentaries through the Learning Connexion job. The idea of making a documentary about Bruce Stewart and his amazing Marae was born.

This documentary started with no funding. It was a labour of love and took 6 years to film. We spent a lot of time at the Marae and we became part of the furniture.

In June 2017, Bruce passed away. We had interviewed him in the last years of his life; he had told us his story and his hopes for the future.

In June 2019, I woke up to loads of messages - a tragedy had struck. The Marae's main building had burnt to the ground in an accidental fire.

These two major events changed everything.

The loss of Bruce and the main wharenui gave the documentary gravity. It would become a precious archival record.

We finished the documentary with the help and support from a well-timed Emerging Artist Trust grant. 

We hosted a screening for the whānau, our friends and the crew at the Penthouse Cinema. The reaction was incredible.

We now have the opportunity to share Tapu te Ranga Marae with the public.

Our film, our labour of love, our piece of local history is screening at Documentary Edge from June 12th - July 5th 2020

View the film here.