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.
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.