A well-known young actor , who stars in EIT’s latest promotional campaign, says the role has given him an opportunity to encourage younger generations to study further.
Akuhata “Augs” Keefe rose to fame as a teenager in the critically acclaimed New Zealand movie, Mahana, which was directed by Lee Tamahori and also starred acclaimed actor Temuera Morrison. Akuhata has now fronted a promotional campaign for EIT, aimed at attracting new learners to the institute’s wide range of programmes.
Akuhata, who spent much of his youth in the Tolaga Bay area and regards Gisborne as his hometown, says he was attracted to the EIT role because it was based in his home region.
“I had the audition on Zoom and when I read the description, I saw that it was based in the area I come from. I thought what better way to inspire people from back home to go and study.”
“Studying helps you to expand your skillset. “This one (the EIT role) meant a lot more to me than some other roles that I’ve done because I have younger siblings in Gisborne. What I took away from that was I felt like I was being a role model for my younger siblings and also my younger cousins and the younger generation below me.”
Akuhata comes from Ngati Porou, Ngati Whatua and Ngati Kahungunu and his marae are Hiruharama, Te Aowera (Ngati Porou) and Orakei (Ngati Whatua).
The EIT promotional video was directed and produced by Hawke’s Bay video production company Indelible. Company Director Dan Browne together with brother and videographer Andrew, led a crew that included EIT screen production tutor Luca Castaldo and students Susanna Gray and Grant Hanson.
The video features Akuhata as a young man not sure of where his life is headed, who receives a phone call from his “future you” telling him how his life changed when he decided to study at EIT.
The slogan for the promotion is: “What will your future look like? Find your IT at EIT and discover what is in store for your future you. You will know it when you see IT!”
Akuhata has had a small connection with EIT in the past, having attended the Tairāwhiti Trades Academy automotive programme at EIT’s Tairāwhiti Campus when he was a student at Tolaga Bay Area School.
“That’s what I used to look forward to all week.”
EIT Digital Marketing Advisor, Leanne Harkness says Akuhata was the perfect choice for the advertising campaign.
“Not only does he come from our region and has an EIT connection, but he also epitomises our student body up the coast and is a well-spoken, down to earth guy, with a strong sense of whanau.“
“He’s a lovely guy that just wants to be the best he can be, while following his passion. Any success is not just his though, it’s for his community and his family. This is why many of our students study at EIT. “
“Akuhata oozes respect and maturity, he nailed playing both current and future self and we are thrilled with the end result, his parents should be super proud!”
Akuhata says that he knew from a young age that he wanted to be an actor and acted in two school plays, as well as performing for his two grandmothers when he was a boy.
“I used to pretend I was Ranginui Skyfather (Māori mythological figure) standing on the bed, and I used to sleep by my nannies, and act it out. I used to act like I was too sick to do the dishes, all that kind of good stuff.”
The 21-year-old’s big break came when he was about 15 years old when he was told about a major New Zealand production called Mahana, which was based on the novel Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies by Witi Ihimaera. The drama is about two Māori families, the Mahanas and the Poatas, who are bitter rivals living in the Gisborne district.
Akuhata says he auditioned for the role but was not confident he would get it because he was told he was too tall for the character.
“But they also said: ‘Don’t cut your hair!.’ so that gave me a bit of hope. I got a call back, and the next thing we know, I got the part.”
After a year of acting full-time and then two years working as a landscaper, Akuhata has followed his own advice and started studying what he loves – film – at South Seas Film & Television School in Auckland.
“I found out my passion was actually with the film industry and there’s no other place I’d rather be.”
He has also been busy with roles like the EIT advertisement and has a new short film called Saviour that is about to be released. There is no doubt the future is bright.
“I want to give out a piece of advice to everyone. Follow your dream because I’ve had people say: ‘He’s from a small town and trying to make movies. And then now look where I am just because I believed in myself.”