League star Wairangi Koopu has made his acting debut in Toa Fraser’s action movie The Dead Lands playing a Maori warrior in pre-European New Zealand, and he says the film – which uses authentic weaponry, dialogue and a traditional hand-to-hand combat style called mau rakau – will be a showcase of Maori history for the world.
“It was a fantastic experience to be involved in the project,” Koopu told The Diary. “I feel very spoilt and proud to be a part of it. As an emerging speaker, the language was a real treat because it’s all 16th-century te reo. It’s very in-depth and poetic, almost Shakespearian. It will showcase what Maori were like in that period of history.”
Koopu, who knows Fraser through former Warriors teammate Logan Swann, says the role called for physical endurance.
“There was a lot of fighting with ancestral weaponry. I loved it. Coming from a physical background with league, it was good to play rough.
I picked up a few cuts and bruises.”