The Official Blog for David Whittet's New Film

Hīkoi and Election Year


I had hoped my new film project Hīkoi would go into production this year. The issues of child poverty and homelessness are as relevant today as they were when I first wrote the screenplay in 2014. It would have been particularly appropriate to shoot the film in New Zealand’s election year.

Following positive reviews at the Emerging Writers and the Table Read My Screenplay festivals, I began negotiations with leading New Zealand production companies to bring the story to the screen. Regrettably, the Covid-19 pandemic has thwarted those plans and put the project on hold. Many overseas production companies regard New Zealand as the safest place in the world to make a film. With the industry getting back on its feet, I am renewing my efforts to find a production partner for Hīkoi.

Inspired by the hīkoi against child poverty in Auckland in 2014, this hard-hitting drama sees a burnt-out social worker taking risks to help a single mother escape from loan sharks. Hīkoi will remain as relevant as ever in a post Covid world.

The Photo that inspired Hīkoi

The demonstration against child poverty in Queen Street Auckland on 5 September 2014 is one of the real-life events featured in my screenplay Hīkoi. Almost four years later, the issue remains unresolved and forever in the news. My script, in which a young and idealistic social worker gets badly burned taking risks to save a single mother from two ruthless loan sharks, is as relevant now as when I first wrote it. I am looking for a New Zealand production company to help me bring this heart-wrenching story to the screen.
Photo Credit: Zealand Herald.

Hīkoi is more relevant than ever!

Hīkoi becomes more relevant by the minute. Inspired by the child poverty debate in the run up to the last general election, my screenplay includes several real life events woven into the story: the 2014 minor party leaders debate, the Hīkoi of protest to end child poverty and the presentation of a petition with fifteen thousand signatures to the government.
In the film, a young Māori social worker strives to make a difference, taking risks to help a single mother hounded by loan sharks. He's enraged by empty promises from the politicians during the election campaign, all claiming that they care. Abandoned by his employer, alone and bereft of support, he takes the blame when everything crashes down around him. He drops out after losing his licence, forcing him to join cardboard city with his former clients.
With the extraordinary political developments in New Zealand over the last week, accompanied by some angry rants on social media, I have been working out how my protagonist would react to all of this. What would he be tweeting? Perhaps I need to update the script to include the latest events––or start work on the sequel as the original goes into production!

A "Cathy Come Home" for our times!

is a hard-hitting drama that addresses the most critical issues facing New Zealand society today: homelessness, child poverty and burnout in the under-resourced social workers who have to deal with the fallout.
For such an inspirational and relevant project, I hope to get funding from the New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand on Air. I am currently pitching my screenplay to prospective production partners. An influential producer has enthusiastically described my script as a Cathy Come Home for our times.
It is immensely humbling to have my work compared to Ken Loach's groundbreaking film. Cathy Come Home gave rise to the Shelter movement, founded by a New Zealander, Des Wilson.
I would be delighted if Hīkoi could bring about such positive social change.

Farewell Sundance, Hello New Orleans!

Farewell Sundance, Hello New Orleans!
With the feedback from the Table Read My Screenplay competition at Sundance fresh in my mind, I have just completed the rewrite of the Hīkoi script.
In this latest draft, I've concentrated on sharpening the dialogue and tightening the action, focusing the audience on Hīkoi's compelling message. I am confident that this thought-provoking story will resonate with cinema goers in New Zealand and beyond.
As the excitement of the Sundance competition begins to fade, anticipation mounts for the next Table Read My Screenplay at the New Orleans Film Festival in October 2017.
New Orleans is such a great city of music; it could be the ideal location to launch the Hīkoi music video!