A road trip to Poi E country

If you haven’t seen Poi E: The Story of Our Song at the theatre, you better be quick. It’s a heart-warming, eye-opening, gem of a film about the song that has become New Zealand’s national anthem. As we put it last month when it emerged: “Every now and then a film comes along that we think Trade Me should get behind because we think our community will find it awesome too.”

So we did – we got inspired to do a couple of little things around the film, and the story behind it.

We made the film the hero of the August edition of the Trade Me newsletter, which found its way into more than 2 million Kiwis’ inboxes. This included a competition for double passes to the film, asking our community about their favourite small town.

We helped let people know about a special signed tshirt that the good people at Sony Pictures had signed by the Patea Maori Club and the makers of the film. It sold to a Dunedin buyer, attracting more than 4,000 views and every cent made its way to the 137-year-old Patea Volunteer Fire Brigade.

We also saw that a Bay of Plenty seller had the one and only POI E personalised plate up for sale on Trade Me, so we bought it to donate to the Patea Maori Club. The seller was a good sport, having generously bought the plate in 2010 in a Trade Me fundraiser: “I bought the plate to help fund a young singer from Turangi, Jackson Owens, to go to United States to compete, and now he is a member of the band Far Young.”

After the deal was done we navigated the administration involved in getting the plate manufactured and transferred. Finally, it arrived on my desk at Trade Me HQ in Wellington. It didn’t feel right to just pop it on a courier to Patea and hope for the best. It felt like something that should be done in person, face-to-face.

This week we got on the road to make it happen.

Our intrepid little Trade Me trio arrived at the Patea Maori Club Hall on Bedford Street, on a windy Tuesday afternoon. After meeting the legendary Aunty Bib and soaking up the inner sanctum of the club adorned with achievements and celebrations and stories and photos, we handed the plates over.

Moments later they were attached to club secretary Sue’s Corolla, and our Poi E deed was done – the plate was where it should be. We had a laugh, shook hands, and then popped in for a photo with Grant the butcher (who has a gem of a cameo in the film), before heading back to Wellington.

A road trip to Patea is not something you do every day, but it is definitely something every New Zealander should do at least once in their life. Is it New Zealand’s most famous small town? Thanks to the amazing work of Dalvanius Prime and Ngoi Pewhairangi, it probably is.

A big thank you to everyone involved in making this song one of the great Kiwi stories.

If people liked it, they liked it. And if they didn’t, well I didn’t really care because the kids loved it. It was for them. It was made for them – Dalvanius on ‘Poi E’


Car Trio