The Price of Peace


Director: Kim Webby
Producer: Christina Milligan

Rating: 5/5

The Price of Peace was first showcased at the New Zealand film festival before screening at the imagineNative Film Festival 2015 in Toronto, where it won the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award. A few of the film and production crew were in attendance at the screening and provided a context to the documentary and insight into their motivation. The Price of Peace highlights 120 years of turmoil and division in the relationship between the Crown and Ngāi Tūhoe, in New Zealand. The Tuhoe people have been subjected to unfair treatment and have a sad traumatic history with the government of New Zealand. The tension and discrimination led to a series of events that resulted in the imprisonment of Tame Iti, the instantly recognizable face of Māori activism, along with another fellow activist.

The New Zealand government became suspicious of the Ngāi Tūhoe and was under the assumption that there was a paramilitary camp on their property and that they were plotting terrorist activities. The police force then decided to place hidden surveillance cameras on the property of the Ngāi Tūhoe. In doing so they were able to obtain recordings of conversations and visual of the daily life of the Tuhoe. This invasion of privacy and the material it provided prompted a raid on the community where families were removed from their homes, separated from one another, interrogated, humiliated, and terrified. The members of the police force also destroyed homes by breaking down doors and windows, confiscating items from individual homes, and arresting 18 individuals. This number was reduced to four Tuhoe people, including Tame Iti, that were charged with a number of offenses including terrorism and the illegal possession of a firearm.

The documentary captured scenes from the raid itself, the subsequent trial, and the sentencing of the accused. Tame Iti and one of the accused were sentenced to two years imprisonment and the other two individuals were placed on house arrest. These events were highly covered in New Zealand`s media and are therefore public knowledge. The documentary goes much deeper and addresses the issue of discrimination, history of the documentary`s main character Tame Iti, and the history of the Tahoe people from colonization and forced assimilation in an attempt to erase the Maori culture. Tame gives an account of his childhood, appreciation of his culture, and his realization in his youth that he needed to be a voice for his community. The documentary explores how misunderstanding of the Maori culture and heritage as well as systematic racism led to actions by the police force that would not have been authorized under any other circumstance. The documentary contains eyewitness accounts of the raid, the emotional trauma that families experienced, as well as a process of healing and reconciliation which led to an apology from the police force and the crown.

This documentary is riveting, emotionally charged, and exceptionally informative. The filmmakers did an excellent job of presenting historical context, the repercussions of the past, and how racist attitudes led to the infringement of one of the basic rights of a marginalized population. The privacy of the Tuhoe was invaded and an organization that saw their actions through a lens of racism resulted in a catastrophe of epic proportion. This documentary is one that would be appealing to not only those interested in the aboriginal culture but also audiences that are interested in injustice, systematic discrimination, police brutality, colonization, and other similar social issue. The Price of Peace is a well directed and produced documentary; the content had a natural flow, the imagery was vivid and beautiful. It is able to capture the audience’s attention and play on emotions. Overall I would give this documentary a rating of five out of five stars.

Nekisha McLeod

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