Plenty of dogs and a couple of horses were among the small crowd to welcome New Zealand director Taika Waititi and some of the cast of his latest movie, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Raglan won the visit by putting on the best rural cinema premiere for the movie on Wednesday last week, an event that included a hog on a hog (a kunekune on the back of a Harley Davidson) and the audience dressing up in the theme of going bush.
About 250 people, a number dressed up in costume of their favourite characters, waited for Taika, Julian Dennison (who plays the star role of Ricky Baker) and Rima Te Wiata (Aunt Bella) to arrive.
They were welcomed into the Old School Arts Centre car park with a karanga.
Taika, who is off to Australia next to direct the Marvel’s third instalment of Thor, said he was blown away by the premiere held by the Raglan community, and it was that sense of community that he had wanted to capture in his film.
The film is based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, and is about a national manhunt for a kid and his foster uncle who go missing in New Zealand bush.
“It’s one of the most Kiwi films I have made. It’s about all of us. It’s about capturing the Kiwi sense of adventure,” said Taiki, who grew up watching Kiwi films that celebrated the renegade and the underdog, films such as Smash Palace and Goodbye Pork Pie.
“I tried to capture that same spirit. To make stories that we want to see about ourselves.
There was still a sense of community in New Zealand, that he didn’t see anywhere else in the world, he said.
Taika said he wanted to make a film that the whole family could enjoy watching together.
“I made this stupid vampire film and they rated it R13. I wanted to make something that kids could see as well.”
He said his film Boy held the opening box office records of any New Zealand film, “but sadly for that little film this one is going to beat that record”.
Julian Dennison, who plays rap-loving foster care kid Ricky Baker in the film, had the audience laughing over his confusion of the name of the town: Ragland or Raglan? Is it Ragland? Raglan?
He said he had whanau living in the town, and his “aunty”, Pauline Sweetman, won a selfie with the young star.
One Raglan youngster showed Julian his Michael Jackson dance moves.
Rima Te Wiata, who plays Aunt Bella, joked she was “really looking forward to going to the loo” after drinking a big bottle of water in the car coming down from Auckland.
Of the film she said: “I had a ball doing this film with Taika, he’s absolutely amazing. I really had the best time even though my character carks it early on.”
Raglan boys Tom Hannon and Alex Bradley each won a Swanndri for their winning costumes – both were dressed as character Psycho Sam, who is played by Rhys Darby.
Taika said the guys looked awesome: “This is what my army would look like if I was in control.”
Alex said it was a great experience to meet Taika and Julian because the film was awesome.
He said Julian had asked if he could touch the possum fur on his chest, which was funny, and both of them were really nice.
Raglan Community Board deputy chairman Bob MacLeod won a prize for looking like the spitting image of Uncle Hec (played by Sam Neil), while a dog also won a selfie with the stars for dressing up in camouflage.