Crown Lynn – A Māori Story

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19 September 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A new and compelling documentary showcases the unsung, and largely unknown, stories of generations of whānau Māori who helped create a New Zealand icon.

For 50 years Crown Lynn was the biggest ceramics factory in the southern hemisphere. The west Auckland factory had a rich culture . The opening coincided with the post war era – opening its doors in 1943 and sadly closing in the late 80s. Over the years it produced an array of products sold both throughout New Zealand and to an overseas market.

Crown Lynn documentary offers a rare and valuable insight into the past, into Māori migration, race relations, manaakitanga and whānau.

For Executive Producer Jade Maipi of Mahi Tahi Media, the project was a personal as well as professional one. “Crown Lynn is iconic to New Zealanders, an institution and home for west Auckland whānau, and a big part of life for many Māori whānau, particularly mine,” says Jade Maipi.

“I didn’t fully understand the craze and hype around Crown Lynn crockery. What I ended up finding was an incredible story of Māori and Pākehā working together in a post war era when the industry in Aotearoa was booming,” Jade says.

Producer/Director Susan Leonard says that “in making an archival documentary, there is a deep responsibility to honour the stories of those who have passed,” says Susan Leonard.

“We are incredibly grateful to the family members who spoke for their loved ones, and to all of our on-screen contributors, sharing their time and knowledge to make this documentary possible.

“Hemara Hemara initially said ‘no’ when we asked him to be involved in this documentary. So we drove to the Hokianga to gently convince him.

“Filming him make a mould in his back shed was one of my personal highlights. His deft hands working the clay, the lines on his face telling a thousand stories themselves. Hemara’s wife, Francis, also makes the best tomato on crackers,” says Susan Leonard.

“You will laugh. You might even cry. But you will be fascinated by the stories.”

For almost 50 years Crown Lynn was the largest ceramics factory in the southern hemisphere. It was a melting pot of rich culture during a time when hundreds of Māori were migrating to the city to find work.

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