A river surfing session in sacred Maori waves

May 5, 2017 | Surfing
New Zealand's South Island: surfing the Hawea River waves

The Māori believe that land and water are two different worlds. With that in mind, Finian Vogel decided to film a short that blends surfing and the indigenous Polynesian culture.

"The idea was conceived over a year ago when I asked the editor of the non-profit magazine 'Riverbreak' if he knew any river waves on New Zealand's South Island," explains filmmaker Finian Vogel.

"I had previously made some films on the river surfing scene in Munich and, while living in New Zealand, I wanted to see if there were any river waves in the country. He linked me up with a few riders and we starting discussing when I would come down to film."

The short clip "Tangaroa's Cradle" confirms that the South Island of New Zealand offers excellent conditions for river surfing.

The surfer riding the Hāwea River waves is Brent Screen. The voice you'll hear is from Kevin Pahina, a member of the Māori iwi, Ngāti Porou.

"My anthropological knowledge and interest for the Māori culture were something I wanted to incorporate in the film. There is so much more to their culture than the 'haka.' So, I spoke to my friend Kevin of the Ngāti Porou tribal group, and he helped me develop and write a few conceptual ideas for the movie."

"We blended my knowledge of his indigenous culture with his personal perspective of the Māori people. Each tribe has its own set of customs, attitudes, and beliefs. This film, in particular, reflects the Ngāti Porou viewpoint," concludes Vogel.

Discover the world's best river breaks.

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2023 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers