Tearepa Kahi’s debut feature starts shooting today.

Singer Stan Walker is making his acting debut as the lead in Mt Zion, a New Zealand feature which starts shooting today.

The film, shooting in the area around Pukekohe, is a family oriented story about a talented young musician who comes from a Maori family. His ambition for his band to open for Bob Marley in 1973 clashes with his family’s traditional values.

Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors) also stars as his father; Miriama Smith also appears in the cast.

Tearepa Kahi, who made award-winning short Taua, writes and directs.

Quinton Hita of Kura Productions produces via Small Axe Films. Backers include the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, Maori Television and Te Mangai Paho.

Sony Pictures NZ is already on board for local distrubtion, and NZ Film handles world sales.

Walker is the 2009 winner of Australian Idol who is now signed to Sony Music.

Andrew Cornwell, General Manager, Sony Pictures NZ, says: “We look forward to continuing our association with great New Zealand stories and talent. In the past year we have been involved in the release of Billy T: Te Movie and Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business. We wish the talented cast and crew of Mt Zion all the best and look forward to bringing the project to cinemas in the first part of 2013.”