Many roads lead to the Hokianga in this engaging documentary portrait of several generations of inhabitants: local iwi, long-established farming families, and the alternative lifestylers of the 60s and 70s who put down roots and stayed.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Susy Pointon’s documentary about life on the Hokianga delivers a gently affirmative self-portrait of a multifarious, fully functioning quasi-alternative community. Interviewing numerous current inhabitants, she draws us down many of the roads that led to a beautiful, unspoiled harbour on the West Coast of the Far North. For many of the region’s tangata whenua, there was a road away from the Hokianga before there was a road back home: there was certainly a darker time before Pākehā settlers valued Taha Māori as we see happening now. For others, New Zealand itself represented an escape from Vietnam-era America. The film is rich with tales of estrangement from backgrounds in postwar London, Germany, Manchester, Fiji and Queensland; from being ‘brought up British in Hawke’s Bay’; and the consequent search for social and political alternatives. Pointon’s subjects are relaxed, candid and often funny. It’s striking in a film containing so many couples how often one partner’s testimony surprises the other. ‘It’s not really a place people come to make money,’ explains one resident, and the comfort he takes in that thought is palpable. Hope indeed.