July 13, 2014
Film pioneer Ramai Hayward dies
New Zealand's first Maori cinematographer Ramai Te Miha Hayward of Ngai Tahu and Ngati Kahungunu has died at the age of 98.
Hayward broke ground in every field she entered.
A graduate of Queen Victoria Maori boarding school for girls in Auckland, she apprenticed herself to a photographer and set up her own Patricia Miller Studios on the North Shore, becoming the first Maori professional photographer.
She won a role in the 1940 sound remake of Rudall Hayward’s 1925 film, Rewi’s Last Stand, playing the Maori heroine Ariana, who falls in love with a soldier during the New Zealand Wars.
In 1943 she married Hayward and formed a creative partnership that took them around world making documentaries, dramas and newsreels.
The partnership lasted until his death in 1974, even though her many contributions as behind the camera were often ignored by commentators.
She also took on screen roles, including as Billy T’s mother on the Billy T James Show.
Ramai Hayward made a Member of the Order of Merit in 2006, after earlier turning down the offer of a damehood in protest at the government plan to sell the Cape Palliser Lighthouse and surrounding land.
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