The Amiri & Aroha Blog
The Official Blog for David Whittet's Novel and Film Trilogy

Finding the Right Church for the Wedding Scenes

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Whilst finding the right locations for Marae scenes and the gangster’s houses proved difficult, they were nothing compared with the challenge of getting the right church for the wedding of Aroha to Amiri, the centrepiece of the film.

My first choice was St Luke’s Anglican church at Waerenga-a-hika, a beautiful rural church which had special significance for me. I approached the vicar, Joan Edmundson, who was most helpful. However, the final decision lay with the Vestry Committee and despite being impressed with the script, they did not want us to film inside the church, especially as there was a shooting during the ceremony.

It seems that the Anglican church has been understandably cautious following their experiences with The Da Vinci Code, where film makers offered generous donations for restoration appeals but then felt aggrieved as the film went against the church’s beliefs.

With some re-writing of the script, I adapted the wedding scenes so that Aroha was shot after the wedding as the bridal party left the church. We shot these revised scenes at St Luke s Church on 15 November. During the interminable wait whilst the costumes and make up were adjusted, I got talking to Hohepa Haenga, a Māori minister who has agreed to play the part in the film. Hohepa told me that he could have got us permission to film at his former church at Kaiti Hill and there would be no problems shooting inside the church as it was deconsecrated.

After that, my heart wasn’t in the shooting for the rest of the day. I just new it was wrong, we needed to shoot Hunapo shooting Aroha during the ceremony. A key script point was the ambiguity this created for Aroha as the shooting happened before they were actually married.

So I made the decision (not universally popular with the cast!) to reshoot the wedding. This is now scheduled for 5 December. I want to see Amiri, who comes across as a very smooth operator in Mike Hollis’s portrayal, really out of his depth, blood all over his hands and face from Aroha’s wound...

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The wedding scenes we filmed at St Luke’s Church at Waerenga-a-hika, which were not used in the finished film.