Mathurin Molgat’s comprehensive documentary about the past and future of the mighty kauri centres on an inspiring artisan: Northland luthier Laurie Williams.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
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.