Era i roto i te rangimarie rangatira, e manaaki atua

Posted Tuesday 24 May 2016

Next week's Wairoa Maori Film Festival will be tinged with sadness as the industry mourns the death of the wonderful Huia Koziol. The 2016 WIFT Wairoa Mana Wahine Awards recipients, Rachel House and Nancy Brunning, will be presented with their awards  at the Festival, which is appropriate given Huia came up with the idea in 2011.

Since then she has played a pivotal role in celebrating the achievements of Katie Wolfe, Ella Henry, Keri Kaa, Kay Ellmers and Chelsea Winstanley, our previous recipients.

Huia died eight days ago but not before she had given her blessing to the selection of this year's recipients.  Her son Leo Koziol, Festival Director of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival has provided us with this inspiring biography of his mother.



Above: Huia (then Christy) campaigned to be a beauty queen in the 1950s, seeking to be 'Eastern Queen' at a contest in Wairoa.


Huia Kaporangi Koziol (12 June 1935 - 16 May 2016) was born in Hastings, New Zealand to Heeni Jane Christy (nee Smith Matenga Bluck), of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Rakaipaaka descent. Her mother married soon after to William Henry Christy, who fully adopted Huia as his daughter. Eight siblings soon followed: Sidney, Kay, Myra, Eia, Jewel, Rufus, Tina and Gloria.

Huia was educated at Nuhaka Native School and Hukarere Girls' College in Napier, before going on to Ardmore Teachers College for Teacher Certification. At Ardmore, she was part of the Maori Theatre Group lead by Don Selwyn, and acted in many performances, including a presentation of Maori Shakespeare.

From an early age, Huia was a fan of and was influenced by the movies. The old LDS Hall in Nuhaka was home to movies in the village, and Huia recalls how the people of the village compared themselves to the stories of Flash Gordon, the people in the valley being "The Clay" and the people in Tahaenui being the "Forest People." Huia was there when John O'Shea filmed feature film "Broken Barrier" in Kahungunu Marae in the 1950s; she appears in the ballroom scenes and her uncles, father and brother Rufus can be seen on the paepae and performing kapa haka.

After time teaching at Nuhaka Native School and Ruatahuna Native School, Huia made service as a proselytizing missionary of the LDS Church (1958), and in 1959 travelled to Utah to commence study at Brigham Young University (BYU). At BYU, she participated in and lead the Kia Ora Club Kapa Haka troupe, which travelled extensively across the United States and recorded an album of Maori songs.

In the United States, she met her husband Leopold Joseph Koziol (13 February 1937 - 30 January 2007) and gave birth to her first two children, Jeanine and Philip. Huia and her family spent time living in Los Angeles, Honolulu and Santa Cruz. In Honolulu Huia performed the flaming poi at Club 81 as part of a cabaret show and for a time lead the Maori kapa haka troupe at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. This troupe went on to perform on the Danny Kaye show in 1963, and Huia was there to feed them all boil-up and fried bread. In Los Angeles, Huia made acquaintance with the likes of Mavis Rivers and Vincent Price.

In 1969, Huia got the calling to return home, and the family moved to Nuhaka where her third child, Leo, was born soon after. Huia recalls it was watching the movie "Hawaii" that drew her back home to Nuhaka: "...we were at the movies and the emotion of a Polynesian mother enfolding her son who had been away from home in [the] USA� was too much and I just sobbed and sobbed and told [my husband] I was coming home with my children to my Mum, Dad, my brothers and sisters, to my Maori people, to Nuhaka" (William & Heeni Christy Family History, 2005).

For 28 years, Huia taught at Nuhaka Primary School and as a special education teacher including 8 years as Principal of Whakaki Total Immersion School. Huia was known in particular in the school for her teaching of the arts, kapa haka and music, and composed the song "Nuhaka General Store," an adaptation of a Hawaiian work. Huia was a fluent speaker and writer in Te Reo Maori, from both her upbringing and from her studies. She wrote and performed many plays in Te Reo Maori with the tamariki at Whakaki School.

Having not completed her studies at BYU, Huia enrolled in Massey University Correspondence completing a Bachelor of Arts in Education (1989) and a Diploma in Maori Development (1996). Her studies included Film Theory and the auteur cinema of Alan Parker.

Retired from working life, Huia ran for and successfully served a term as a Wairoa District Council, in the Nuhaka-Whakaki ward formerly held by her father William Henry Christy. She served as District Councillor at the same time her son, Leo, was employed as District Planner.

Huia served for eleven years on the board of Te Roopu Whakaata Maori I Te Wairoa - Wairoa Maori Film Festival Inc. Huia was instrumental in the operations of the festival, ensuring all of the "home base" plans were made at the marae, cataloguing and previewing all film entries, and was the Te Reo Maori expert for the festival.

Huia named the inaugural festival "Te Ao Mai Nga Whatu Maori" or "The World Through Maori Eyes.". Huia named the "Nga Whanaunga Maori Pasifika" programme of the New Zealand International Film Festival, as an expression of "the connectedness by bloodlines between people's across the Pacific." Huia was instrumental in the establishment of the WIFT Wairoa Mana Wahine Award, presented since 2011.

Huia played host to many film luminaries over the years, including Ramai Hayward, Merata Mita, Barry Barclay and Wi Kuki Kaa (all who have now sadly passed); as well as Cliff Curtis, Rawiri Paratene, Gaylene Preston, Keri Kaa, Katie Wolfe and Ella Henry. Huia recalled that Cliff Curtis was her favourite guest star for being so "easy on the eye."

Huia served as both a Trustee and Committee Member of Kahungunu Community Marae. Huia was always there at the marae to welcome manuhiri, kuia of the marae year around. She was instrumental in fundraising and project managing the construction of the marae dining hall, Te Aroha O Kahungunu, and was well versed in the history and whakapapa of the marae. Huia was a historian whose works were published in the NZ Dictionary of Biography and "Turning the Hearts of the Children: Early Maori Leaders in the Mormon Church" (2015, Selwyn Katene Editor).

Huia passed away on 16 May 2016, quietly in her sleep aged 80 years old. She leaves her three children, four grandchildren (Ariki, Pita, Jordan, Patrick) and one grandchild (Theo). Huia touched the lives of many people, in Nuhaka, Wairoa, and around the world, and her legacy will live on in Nuhaka, Kahungunu Marae, and in the annual Wairoa Maori International Film Festival. Before her death, she gave her collection of over 40 years of 16 mm historical films that she and her husband Leo documented over their lives. It is planned for these to be incorporated into a documentary work.

From Nuhaka School Newsletter, 20 May 2016: "Huia was a Kaiako at the Nuhaka School for many, many years, in that time teaching and learning with a broad grouping of whanau that populated this valley. Huia was a core mover in the authoring of this school's 1998 Centennial magazine, a wonderful record of schooling here in Nuhaka, and a magazine often sought by many visitors to this school site. Huia and her generation set the basis for, and underpinned the strengths of Nuhaka School.

Huia was mana wahine! Arohamai tatou!"




Photo: Huia Koziol in korero to the guests of Wairoa Maori Film Festival 2014.