Aroha Awarau – Poi

INT. SCHOOL HALL – DAY
FADE IN to a CLOSE UP of MOANA’s face, a 15-year-old Māori girl, with a chubby but pretty face. She is nervous and uncomfortable.

The STRUM of a guitar is heard, which sparks an awkward and forced smile from Moana.

She starts singing a Māori love song, and begins her poi actions. She’s in a school kapa haka group, practising an item.

Two rows of ten girls in school uniforms are performing the poi. On each girl’s right-hand side, a boy is sitting on the floor.

The boys look up at the girls while the kōtiro serenades them with their choreography and poi movements.

Gorgeous but conceited KURA, and her male partner, TUKI, a handsome Māori boy, take prime position in the middle of the front row.

Kura’s poi actions are graceful but are performed with an air of arrogance. Tuki smiles and enjoys the attention.

Moana, the chubbiest in the group, and her male partner, JOHNNY, are stuck in the back row. Her poi actions are laboured and stroppy.

Over the group’s singing, TONI, 22, a male kapa haka tutor, yells instructions.

TONI
Smile girls. You’re trying to get your tāne to fall in love with you.

Pacing up and down the hall, Toni uses exaggerated hand movements to emphasise his point.

TONI
So flirt with your eyes, flirt with your hips. Do whatever you can to snatch him up.

Johnny tries distracting Moana by poking his tongue out. Moana reacts by trying to kick him.

The school bell RINGS.

TONI
Some girls are ready for tomorrow’s performance.

Kura releases a smug smile.

TONI
While others need to practise their little hearts out

The kids disband.

TONI
And don’t forget to collect your piupius and bodices.

CUT TO

The girls are scavenging through two clothes racks, searching for a bodice with their name on it.

Moana checks out Tuki through the racks. He turns, they make eye contact, and she nervously looks away.

Moana finds her bodice. It’s obvious that it’s going to be too small. She approaches Toni.

MOANA
Ah Matua Toni. This ain’t gonna fit.

Kura and her posse giggle.

KURA
Maybe you should lose some weight.

Toni looks sternly at Kura. He turns to Moana with a friendly gaze.

TONI
Sorry hon. that’s the biggest size we have.

Moana leaves the hall, defeated. INT. MOANA’S HOME – DAY.
Moana walks into her home and passes her DAD, sitting in the lounge, reading the racing section of the paper.

MOANA
Hi Poppa.

INT. MOANA’S ROOM – DAY.
Moana walks into her room. It’s a typical teenage haven, with posters on the walls of the latest rap stars and Home and Away pin-ups.

She lies on her bed. There’s a KNOCK on her door.

MOANA
Come in.

Her Dad walks in.

DAD
How was school?

MOANA
It was alright.

DAD
Your performance is tomorrow, ne?

MOANA
Yup. But don’t bother coming. I’m in the back row. You can hardly see me.

Dad pulls out a pounamu necklace from his pocket.

DAD
You should wear this.

MOANA
This was Mum’s.

DAD
It was. When she was your age, she was in the school kapa haka group too.

MOANA
Really?

DAD
Yup. She did the poi beautifully. That’s when I first laid eyes on her. Knew then we were gonna hook up.

MOANA
You’re such a skux Dad.

DAD
A skunk?

MOANA
No. A skux. A stud.

DAD
Don’t you worry my girl. I’m coming tomorrow, so save me a seat

He leaves.
Moana holds the pounamu and admires it.
She lays out the piupiu and bodice on her bed, before trying them on.

She struggles with the bodice, barely getting it over her head, and squeezing it over her body – squirming, wiggling, manoeuvring – until it fits.

The bodice is so tight she can’t even zip it up.

Moana looks at herself in the mirror. She’s disappointed. Suddenly she comes up with a great idea.

She rushes out of the room.

INT. MOANA’S SISTER’S ROOM – DAY
Ignoring the “KEEP OUT” sign on her sister TANIA’S bedroom door, Moana storms into the room and goes straight to the dresser.

On the mirror, there are many pictures of Tania, a 17 year old, in skimpy outfits, puckered lips. She likes to have her photo taken.

Opening a drawer Moana pulls out various sexy skimpy tops. She brings some up close and then screws up her face.

She finds the black boob tube she’s looking for. She pulls and stretches the boob tube.

INT. DINING ROOM – DAY
Moana plonks the sewing machine on the dining room table. She takes off her bodice turns it to its back and cuts it at its seam. She gets the boob tube, cuts it in half and sews it into the back of the bodice.

INT. MOANA’S ROOM – DAY
When Moana puts on the reconstructed bodice, it’s a perfect fit. Looking at herself in the mirror, in full regalia, gives her a new found confidence.

Swaying the piupiu and eyeing herself up in the mirror, she starts doing a series of pūkana, which turns into modelling poses, and ends in some dance and krumping moves.

Moana is hyped and ready to practice her poi. She gets her schoolbag, empties it and realises her poi aren’t there.

MOANA
Dammit.

Moana goes to her sock drawer, takes out some socks, and creates two makeshift poi out of them. She takes the big teddy bear from her bed and places it on the floor, to substitute for a male partner.

MUSIC starts, an orchestral of the poi, to accompany Moana’s HUMMING.

Wearing a piupiu and a perfectly fitted bodice gives Moana confidence in her movements. She is graceful, fluid and a beautiful performer.

Just as Moana gets into full swing, there’s a TAP at the window. It’s Toni. He’s been watching her from outside.

He points to the front door. EXT. DOORSTEP – DAY
Moana opens the door. Toni is standing there with two poi.

TONI
(holding up the poi) Forget anything?

POV of Toni looking at Moana holding her makeshift sock poi.

TONI
But obviously you don’t need them.

Moana is embarrassed. She grabs the poi from Toni.

MOANA
Thank you, Matua.

TONI
Chur girl, neat alright. Where did you learn those moves?

Moana shrugs her shoulders.

TONI
Keep up the good work.

Moana closes the doors as Toni leaves.

INT. SCHOOL HALL – DAY
Moana and the rest of her kapa haka crew are on the side of the stage, ready to perform. There is another group on stage performing a haka.

Moana and her group are in full kapa haka costume, including full facial moko. Moana is wearing her mother’s pounamu.

Kura notices Moana’s adjustments to her bodice.

KURA
Oh look. Cinderella sewed her own bodice. She can go to the ball after all.

Kura’s cronies laugh. Moana ignores them.

TONI
Remember girls. Smile! Flirt! And boys, enjoy it. Oh and another thing: Kura, can you swap with Moana?

Kura and Moana are surprised.

TONI
That’s right girls. Swap.

KURA
But…

TONI
Quickly! We don’t have time.

Kura begrudgingly swaps with Moana. Toni gives Moana a pep talk.

TONI
You were fabulous in your room yesterday. Do you think you can do that again? Or do you need your socks?

Moana smiles at Toni, reassuring him she has what it takes. Tuki, looks disappointed to have Moana as his new partner.
The roopu on stage finishes and exits.
Moana and her group take their places, waiting for the curtain to open.

CLOSE-UP on Moana. She takes a deep breath.

INT. SCHOOL HALL – DAY
The curtain opens and the kapa haka team prepares to perform to a packed audience. Dad walks into the hall and takes a seat.

The STRUM of a guitar sounds and the team begin their poi. Moana appears a little nervous.

Tuki is disinterested in Moana and he keeps looking back at Kura. Kura glares at Moana, with a deadly stare.

Johnny is poking out his tongue, trying to distract Kura from her performance.

Moana performs a poi move where she flicks her head and her hips. This action gets loud applause from the audience. The crowd’s reaction inspires Moana to be more expressive, using her whole body to grab not only the crowd’s attention but also Tuki’s.

The more Moana sways her hips, twirls her poi and flicks her eyes, the more applause she gets from the audience.

Tuki realises that the crowd love Moana’s performance and he begins to lose interest in Kura, and starts to take notice of Moana.

Moana realises she’s getting Tuki’s full attention, and her flirtatious moves become more animated. She does more pūkana and her curvy and voluptuous figure bodes well with her poi movements. She now has Tuki’s undivided attention, and the crowd shows its appreciation by whistling and cheering.

Toni is in the audience, ecstatically clapping and jumping for joy. Dad also has a huge smile, enjoying his daughter’s star performance.

The poi ends with a rapturous ovation. Kura is furious.

INT. BACK OF THE HALL – DAY
After the performance, the group are in the room, on a high after getting such a great audience response.

Toni gives Moana a huge hug.

TONI
You were fabulous. The star of the show.

Toni flutters off. Tuki approaches Moana.

TUKI
Hey Moana, good job eh.

MOANA
(blushing) Thanks.

Tuki kisses her on the cheek. Moana smiles.
Kura and her friends look on. Moana gives them a cheeky pūkana.

EXT. SCHOOL HALL – DAY.

DAD
You were neat my girl.

MOANA
Thanks Poppa.

DAD
Just like your mum.

Moana walks out of the hall, with a new found confidence in her stride.

CLOSE UP of Moana’s face. She has a beaming smile. FADE OUT.

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