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Hifi Ulu

When your culture rests on your shoulders.

Nine-year-old Luka is a boy of action and adventure, yet distinct in one aspect: his long, uncut hair, a symbol of his Niuean heritage. The film unfolds through Luka’s eyes as he approaches a pivotal cultural milestone: the traditional Niuean hifi ulu ceremony for his tenth birthday, a rite that signifies his passage into young manhood. As the day approaches, the documentary weaves through his family’s diverse perspectives and considers how Luka’s own feelings might differ.

About the Filmmakers

Director: Chantelle Burgoyne

Chantelle is a filmmaker of Samoan, Tongan and European heritage with a first-class MA in Screen Production specialising in directing drama from the University of Auckland. She has written and directed several short films that have screened in festivals in New Zealand and internationally. Most recently, she directed one of the chapters of the anthology feature film We Are Still Here which opened the 69th Sydney Film Festival in 2022 and won the prize for best dramatic feature film at the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival.

Producer: Hayley Felise

Hayley is a Dutch-Pākehā television, film, commercial and theatre producer with a Bachelor of Communication Studies, majoring in Television and Screen Production (AUT, 2015). She’s worked on drama-comedy Happiness is the Path, comedy Bouncers and documentaries No Māori Allowed, Waiata Anthems, Arranged, The Elephant in the Bedroom, and Griff’s Canadian Adventure. Hayley production managed in the local production and commissioning team at Warner Bros Discovery New Zealand, and edited current affairs shows Te Kaea and Te Ao at Whakaata Māori.