Standing on the road staring into the distant horizon, 80-year-old Dame Whina Cooper of the Ngati Manawa tribe in New Zealand is ready to lead her people. Called upon by young activists in 1975 her voice was the only one that could unite Māoridom and lead the 1,000km trek to Parliament in protest of indigenous land still being stolen.
Through the eyes of Older Whina we look back on the formative years of her life from her chieftain father mistakenly baptising her at birth as his son, to her destiny as a cultural trailblazer known as Josephine, or Whina for short. Her extraordinary life is embedded in the political history of New Zealand Māori which saw her break gender boundaries, champion innovation, and fight for the recognition of her own culture, all the while staying true to her heart and her beliefs. Buoyed by her soulmate and husband WILLIAM COOPER, Whina strived to create opportunities for Māori society to unite with the Pāhehā but did not always find support from the community she so passionately defended.
Flawed yet resilient, WHINA tells the story of a woman formed by tradition, compelled by innovation, and guided by an instinct for equality and justice whose legacy as the Te Whaea o te Moto (Mother of the Nation) was an inspiration to an entire country.