Rewi’s Last Stand / The Last Stand
Director Writer, Director and Photographer: Rudall Hayward
Sound Sound: Ron Purdy and Music: Alfred Hill
With Ariana: Ramai Te Miha; Ben Horton: Stanley Knight; Robert Beaumont: Leo Pilcher; Rev. Morgan: Selwyn Wood; Mrs Morgan: Phoebe Clarke; Old Tom: Tom Moisley; Tama te Heu Heu: Henare Toka; Rewi Maniapoto: Raureti te Huia
Cinematography Associate Cameramen: Edwin Coubray and Jay McCarthy
A remake of his 1925 silent film of the same name, this 1940 film is the one pioneering director Rudall Hayward is best remembered for. It's based on the famous battle of Ōrākau when Rewi Maniapoto and his 300 supporters resisted the advance of over 2,000 British troops during a siege which lasted for three days.
Contemporary reviews of the film congratulated it for its historical accuracy; more recent histories have pointed out that it was a product of its time, remarking that:
"Hayward presented both sides of the New Zealand Wars as brave, intelligent warriors, with a sense of chivalry and respect between them. Today, this attitude may seem old-fashioned, a kind of benevolent paternalism, but it was certainly progressive in its day." – Diane Pivac with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald, New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History 2011, p.8.
"It is more important that New Zealanders should have produced this film than that they should see one hundred films from Hollywood. In the film your nation expresses itself. It is a good film, and I am surprised how near to producing a Cecil B. de Mille spectacle Mr. Hayward has come." – The Dominion, 21 June 1940.
Regardless, Hayward intended the film as a tribute to the heroism of Maniapoto and his followers; today it stands as a tribute to the enterprise and fortitude of its writer, director, and photographer.
This was the first New Zealand feature to be shown on New Zealand television. The film was restored by the archive in 2012.