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Death of the Land

Television (Full Length) – 1978

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.

There is no room for Māori values today — not regarding the land anyway. Might have been alright once, but unless the land is being utilised people might as well give it up to someone who will — it’s the only way the country can go forward.
– A ‘progressive’ Māori councillor gives his point of view


Co-produced by Trilogic Productions and drama collective Te Ika a Maui.

NZ On Screen acknowledges the talent and creatives for allowing NZ On Screen to reproduce this title on this website.