The biggest player in the New Zealand economy is put on notice in this spirited documentary that sees a young activist from rural Northland go up against the powerful dairy industry.
Dairy in New Zealand is big business. We are the globe’s biggest milk exporter – but that success may be coming at devastating costs, as this local David-and-Goliath documentary illustrates.
MILKED sees young activist Chris Huriwai, raised in the rural community of Ōtaua, looking to make sense of the conflicting claims coming from both the dairy industry and environmental protection camps. Is New Zealand dairy farming really the most sustainable and efficient in the world, as dairy giant Fonterra claims, or is that just greenwashing over the true ecological cost of business? Chris hits the road to find out.
Wearing its Cowspiracy influence on its sleeve (director Keegan Kuhn is interviewed here), we follow Chris as he travels the country, speaking with dairy workers and industry critics alike while continually being denied an interview with the Fonterra higher-ups.
The image that seems to emerge from this investigation is a damning one, with scientists, doctors, conservationists, industry watchdogs and ex-dairy workers giving their views upon the ways large-scale dairy production has put the land, people and animals in peril. While those locked away at Fonterra’s urban headquarters remain obstinately quiet, many farmers on the rural front line are eager to share their daily realities, including heartbreaking cullings, crippling debt and simmering mental health issues that too frequently lead to suicide.
From allegations of spoiled indigenous land and nutritional mistruths to questions about secretive animal experimentation, MILKED examines a plurality of evidence as it asks just how big a toll Aotearoa is willing to pay for this “white gold rush”. — Adrian Hatwell