Ngāpuhi actor stars in his first feature film

By Jessica Tyson

Ngāpuhi teen Matenga Ashby says acting in his first feature film Baby Done has ignited his love for acting.

Baby Done is a New Zealand film that premiered in Auckland last night. The story follows a couple, Zoe and Tim who have non-traditional reactions to the news Zoe is pregnant. They assume opposite traditional gender roles, with Zoe freaking out about not being able to achieve her dreams before she gives birth while Tim embraces the idea of fatherhood.

Characters Zoe and Tim/ Source: File

Ashby, 19, played the role of Sonny, Zoe and Tim’s trainee in their arborist business.

“I’m just a young buck, got kicked out of school and went into forestry. I met these two, built a good relationship with them and I just help them out really,” he says.

Ashby was cast for Baby Done after the filmmakers saw him act in a short film, Shadow Cut. He says he enjoyed working with the team in Baby Done, especially Rose Matafeo, who played Zoe and Matthew Lewis, who played Tim. Lewis is well known for his role as Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter.

“I had a lot of help from Rose and Matthew. Just a lot of tips, which helped out heaps, and our whole team was just awesome. They made it so easy.”

Matenga Ashby in Shadow Cut / Source: Shadow Cut

A passion to help the community

Ashby, from Kaikohe, says with the help of his new agent he hopes to continue his acting career but he also has a desire to help his community with housing.

“I want to start a business to help our families develop their land, whether it’s Māori papakainga land or just general land.”

He currently works for a design and architecture company called ĀKAU in Kaikohe.

“We do a lot of teaching facilitation, graphic design and architecture. I love facilitating with our communities because what we do is we turn all the kids’ and community’s ideas into a reality, so that’s a big passion for me. Other than that I love diving and rugby league,” Ashby says.

Baby Done, is made by the same people who brought us Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Breaker Upperers, including Taika Waititi, Carthew Neal and James Wallace who worked as executive producers. The film was directed by Curtis Vowell and produced by Morgan Waru.

Baby Done will be out in cinemas on Thursday, October 22.