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In Spring One Plants Alone

Short Film (Excerpts) – 1980


In the late 1970s filmmaker Vincent Ward spent a year and a half visiting remote Maungapōhatu in the Ureweras, capturing the bond between 82-year-old Māori kuia Puhi and her adult disabled son, Niki. This excerpt from Ward's evocative documentary opens with karakia and tears at a urupa. Puhi gives Niki his medication and chops wood to heat their spartan cottage, all the while reciting prayers. More than two decades later, Ward revisited the life story of Puhi in the feature-length Rain of the Children. In Spring One Plants Alone was shot by acclaimed cinematographers Alun Bollinger and Leon Narbey. 

...another kind of endurance is demonstrated by the old Māori woman, her back bent from years of carrying firewood and the burdens of caring for her 40-year-old son. Again we find a vignette of tremendous visual power as Ward explores the circumstances of the woman's life in isolation . . . Although the documentary is occasionally difficult to understand, there's no question about [Vincent] Ward's talent or the empathy that spurred him on in the difficult work of making this unusually poetic film.
– Reviewer Judy Stone in The San Francisco Chronicle, 11 February 1981


Made with assistance from the Department of Education, the QEll Arts Council, the NZ Film Commission, Film Facilities, Associated Sounds and Chloride Batteries