The fate of Amiri & Aroha became inextricably linked with that of another high profile New Zealand film, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. Principal photography had just commenced on Amiri & Aroha when an industrial dispute regarding actors working conditions on The Hobbit hit the headlines in New Zealand, resulting in a high profile stand off between actors and producers. David Whittet had assembled an ensemble cast, with a mixture of up and coming acting talent from various casting agencies. Whilst all the cast had agreed to work for the experience and potential exposure in lieu of payment, once the Hobbit dispute became news, their agents started making impossible demands for an independent film maker. One by one, the lead cast members dropped out leaving the production in jeopardy. Using contacts at a local radio station, Turanga FM, David Whittet and co-producer Kristel Day set about recasting the film from local talent.
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