In 1885 the NZ Government used legislation to take ownership of sections of Bastion Point (Takaparawhau) for defence purposes. This ancestral Māori land belonging to Ngāti Whātua was never returned, and in 1976 Crown announced plans to sell off land for housing. Joe Hawke led a group of peaceful protesters which occupied the land for 507 days, until they were forcibly removed by 700+ police and soldiers. This documentary, which screened as part of the Perspective current affairs series, examines some of the issues behind the protest that polarised a nation.
In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing development on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. 506 days later police and army arrived en masse to remove them. This documentary examines the rich and tragic history of Bastion Point/ Takaparawhau — including how questionable methods were used to gradually take the land from Māori, while basic amenities were withheld from those remaining. The documentary features extensive interviews with protest leader Joe Hawke, and footage from seminal documentary Bastion Point Day 507.
This courtroom drama sets in conflict opinions about the proposed sale of a block of Māori ancestral land. The arguments are intercut with footage of the 1975 land march, and Jim Moriarty comments on proceedings as a tangata whenua conscience. The drama shows its stage origins (it was adapted by Rowley Habib from his 1976 play) but it is passionate and articulate, and is notable as the first TV drama to be written by a Māori scriptwriter. The grievances aired echoed contemporary events, particularly the Eva Rickard-led occupation of the Raglan Golf Course.
The powerhouse, largely Māori cast of this teleplay includes Jim Moriarty, Merata Mita, Billy T James (as a Marxist) and, in his acting debut, Zac Wallace (star of Utu). The Protesters explores issues involving race and land ownership in the aftermath of the Springbok Tour and Bastion Point. A group of Māori and Pākehā protestors occupy ancestral land that the government wants to sell. While waiting for the police to arrive, they debate whether to go quietly or respond with violence. Though some wounds are healed, The Protesters ends on a note of division, reflecting the era it was made in.
Richard Turner’s work as a director began with poetry-based works, pioneering Māori works for television, and Squeeze (1980), New Zealand’s first gay-themed feature. Since then he has made films largely in Australia.
Rowley Habib — also known as Rore Hapipi — was one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre. In 1983 Habib won a Feltex Award for land rights drama The Protestors, part of a trio of pioneering one-off plays for television. Habib passed away on 3 April 2016.
Rūātoki-raised Reuben Collier cut his screen teeth reporting on Waka Huia. In 2001 he founded Maui TV Productions in Rotorua. Collier's producing and directing credits include Marae, Matatini coverage, award-winning documentary Sciascia, and long-running food show Kai Time on the Road. in 2017 Collier was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the television industry and Māori.
Wi Kuki Kaa was a diverse, formidable presence on New Zealand stage and screen for almost 30 years. His iconic roles included Iwi in Barry Barclay-directed feature Ngati, Rewi Maniapoto in TV series The Governor, Wiremu in Geoff Murphy-directed Utu, the koroua in Trinity Roots' music video Little Things, a scarecrow maker in Worzel Gummidge Down Under, and many more.
After boning up on set design at TVNZ and the BBC, Palmerston North-born Grant Major has gone on to design movies for Peter Jackson and Niki Caro. His work as a production designer on epics Lord of the Rings and King Kong resulted in a run of international accolades, including an Academy Award for Return of the King.