Former gang member and now actor Wayne Hapi (48) and his
daughter, Miracle Hapi (24), prepare for a private
screening of a film, The Dark Horse, at Rialto Cinemas,
Dunedin. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Former Dunedin resident and onetime gang member Wayne
Hapi knows plenty about miracles.
Having never done any high-profile acting before, he was
busking in Auckland early last year when he saw an unusual
job advertisement at a Work and Income office.
Having tattoos was fine and previous acting experience was
not required, the advertisement suggested.
He decided to apply and, unexpectedly, landed a big acting
role in The Dark Horse, a movie based on the life of
an extraordinary New Zealander and chess enthusiast, the late
Genesis Potini, from Gisborne.
Backed by the New Zealand Film Commission, the film focuses
on the life of this ''charismatic, brilliant but little-known
New Zealand hero and chess champion''.
The film depicts Genesis at a crossroads in his life, a
former top chess player who had spent years in and out of
mental institutions, battling a severe bipolar disorder.
Having been released from a psychiatric ward, he had moved in
with Ariki, his gang-patched brother, played by Hapi.
In real life, Hapi is a skilled Maori carver, designer and
musician who strongly supported Dunedin's Kokiri Training
Centre through mentoring of young people when he lived in the
city from the late 1990s until 2012.
He was back in Dunedin last night to attend a private
screening of the film, its first in the city. This was
organised by the centre, to raise funds for a planned North
Island trip for centre trainees.
Gaining the movie role and undertaking favourably reviewed
performances in the film had been an ''overwhelming''
''It's been very challenging,'' he said, but added it had
also been deeply rewarding in many ways, including helping
him re-establish contact with his mother.
He urged young people to discover their own hidden passions
and not only to acquire further skills, but also to be ready
to tackle new challenges.
He still considers Dunedin his home, though he is now based
Once a gang member, by the late 1990s, he decided it was time
for a change.
The Dark Horse will be released nationally this