Review: Films like Cousins only come around once in a blue moon

Identity, loss, connection. Three Māori women, their lives spent navigating all of those things, a journey we're gifted to now share on the big screen.

This is Cousins.

Cousin Mata is separated from her whanau as a little girl, sent to an orphanage to be integrated into a Pakeha world. Makareta and Missy have their own maunga to climb and their own paths to forge but they will never stop looking for Mata.

Based on the Patricia Grace novel, handed down through wahine Māori storytellers and now delivered by co-directors Briar Grace Smith and Ainsley Gardiner, this story takes your hand from the opening frames and leads you into a slice of Aotearoa's rich and often hidden history.

Makareta's fierce warrior marching for change, Missy's equally ferocious role as protector and custodian of her whenua - her land - and her whakapapa.

And Mata. Lost, alone, robbed of happiness at every turn.

It feels to me that like films like this one really only come around once in a blue moon and how lucky are we that we can experience them as they were intended to be seen - on the big screen.  Powered by a mighty heart, the blood coursing through the veins of this story is Aotearoa's, and regardless of where our bloodlines come from, it's one we all can connect with.

Five stars.