The Legend of Johnny Lingo

The Legend of Johnny Lingo is a 2003 film set in Polynesia and directed by Steven Ramirez. It is an extension of the 1969 short film Johnny Lingo that is based on a story by Patricia McGerr.

The Legend of Johnny Lingo
Directed bySteven Ramirez
Produced byJohn Garbett
Gerald R. Molen
Written byRiwia Brown
John Garbett
StarringGeorge Henare
Rawiri Paratene
Joe Folau
Music byKevin Kiner
CinematographyAllen Guilford
Edited bySteven Ramirez
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release date
  • August 29, 2003 (2003-08-29)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryNew Zealand


Orphan boy named Tama bounces around between families and gets into trouble. He becomes friends with a girl named Mahana who is considered ugly by the villagers. Even though she is ill-treated by her father and the people around her, she remains kind and good. One day, the boy plans to explore and promises to Mahana that he will come back. Everyday from the day of the departure of Tama, Mahana waits at the shore looking for her friend's arrival.

The boy drifts ashore and is found by Johnny Lingo. After Tama tries to escape with some jewelry, he is given work by Johnny Lingo and found ways to make his work easier. He invents some simple machines that helps him finish his work faster. Eight years later Johnny Lingo is about to die. Johnny Lingo gives his name to the boy. As a new Johnny Lingo, Tama decided to return to the island where he left Mahana. When he arrives, he is well received and asks that every maiden would be shown that night so that he can choose his bride among them.

That night, all arrive except Mahana. He looks for her in their house but is rejected by Mahana. The new Johnny Lingo asks the hand of Mahana from her father, who agrees he will give him two cows as dowry of Mahana. The new Johnny Lingo, however offers eight cows for the hand of Mahana. The Mahana's father agrees, but Mahana is furious and slaps the new Johnny Lingo. Mahana notices the arm of the man and recognized in his arm the bracelet that she gave to a boy who promised to come back for her. The new Johnny Lingo apologizes and Mahana accepts it. She is curious though of why eight cows, and Tama explains that it is the payment for every year he failed to fulfill his promise. Mahana goes back with Tama to the place where he lives as Johnny Lingo. Then they live happily as a married couple.


  • George Henare — Johnny Lingo
  • Rawiri Paratene — Malio Chief
  • Joe Folau — Tama
  • Alvin Fitisemanu — Chief Steward
  • Kayte Ferguson — Mahana
  • Peter Sa'ena-Brown — Miriama's Father
  • Hori Ahipene — Pioi
  • Jim Perry — Malio Elder
  • Sima Urale — Hoku
  • Goeretti Chadwick — Malio Seductress
  • Tausani Simei-Barton — Young Tama
  • Fokikovi Soakimi — Young Mahana

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