Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

This Way of Life 2009

Directed by Thomas Burstyn

World premiere screenings of captivating, ravishing doco about a charismatic East Coast couple raising their six children to respect nature and survive in the wild.

85 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Photography

Producer, Screenplay

Barbara Sumner Burstyn


Cushla Dillon


Joel Haines


Llewelyn Karena


Peter Karena
Colleen Karena

World Premiere

SkyCity Cinemas Queen St, 19 July 2009


‘I treat my children the way I would like to have been raised,’ says Peter Karena, none too impressed by the adoptive father who raised him. In this captivating, visually ravishing doco, we watch Peter and his wife Colleen over an eventful four years as they do whatever it takes to provide emotional security and a life in harmony with nature for their six children. As charismatic a subject as any filmmaker could ask for, Peter makes ends meet as a horse-whisperer, builder and hunter. Seeing the children riding bareback through the East Coast dunes or astride a horse moving up a river with their father is like glimpsing the infancy of the classical gods. (Yes, Tom Burstyn’s cinematography is that remarkable.) But is such glorious freedom, a respect for nature and the abundant love of family all a child needs? Never evangelical, Peter and Colleen talk with unassuming vitality about the values they are instilling in their children. You might well leave their company persuaded that the parents of the future should be getting to know horses now. — BG