Review: Whina is a big-screen journey into the inspirational life of a phenomenal woman

A long winter weekend is the perfect excuse to head to the movies, and cinemas are awash with an array of new releases.

Along with Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion is local outing Whina.

What better way for movie lovers to honour the wairua of Matariki than taking a big-screen journey into the inspirational life of Dame Whina Cooper.

Whina is a feature film tracking the life of a phenomenal woman who broke gender and cultural barriers her entire life. We bear witness to her as a daughter, a wife, a mother, and an activist.

The importance and relevance of seeing Aotearoa's history play out through Dame Whina's eyes and the lens of Māori cannot be understated, as co-directors James Napier Robertson and Paula Whetu Jones gather a stellar cast to drive their story home.

Miriama McDowell and Vinnie Bennett as Dame Whina and William Cooper bring their love story to life, and Rena Owen brings the gravitas and mana wahine as she marched her way down the motu and into the history books.

A formidable, inspiring wahine - this dame needed the power of three to do her justice and the performances here bring all her vitality, her vulnerability and her purpose to the big screen.

While the narrative itself needed a little more shape, Dame Whina's story is an important four-star slice of history.