Song of the Kauri

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Song of the Kauri tackles the universal politics of living on the tightrope between environmental sustainability and economic survival.” — Mathurin Molgat

Director: Mathurin Molgat
Year: 2012
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 100 mins

Producer: Mathurin Molgat
Photography: Swami Hansa
Editor: Annie Collins
Sound: John Patrick

With: Karamea Davis, Laurie Williams, Jackson Browne, Miranda Adams, Tiki Taane

World Premiere

Filmmaker Mathurin Molgat tells us that New Zealand lost 96% of its native kauri forests through felling and fire between 1820 and 1974. Land clearances account for much more of that statistic than any timber trade. Molgat’s documentary is a labour of clear-eyed love, addressing the politics of exotic tree plantations in a land where the native species are uniquely beautiful and may possess a commercial potential that has never been explored. But does any government plan in the present for a harvest 60 years hence? Without demonising the perpetrators, Molgat explains the history of destruction, then finds inspiration in a man whose craft is dependent on chopping down more trees – judiciously and one at a time. Northland’s Laurie Williams is a luthier of international repute. We watch him working with the kaitiaki of the forest to select and fell a tree that will provide the material for his eagerly sought‑after guitars and violins. Philosophers, musicians, economists, historians, scientists, professors and woodsmen amplify Molgat’s lyrical, holistic treatise.

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