EVER THE LAND is an important film. Any serious student of New Zealand history will want to put this into the “have-to-watch” basket.
Its documents some of the hows and whys of the landmark Ngai Tuhoe Te Kura Whare, the living building.
And it documents some of the divisions among people as well: suspicions, fears, doubt. Along with the vision, insight, compassion, clarity, which unites that which divides.
Alexander Behse is the producer, Sarah Grohnert the director. She has taken a measured and unhurried approach. It’s all there. Architectural and building site processes along with the people commentaries, the dance, the politics, the spectacle of opening, and the Crown settlement with and to Tuhoe around Te Uruwera National Park. And always the brooding, misty landscapes.
Substantial. Yet there’s more history that could have made its way in. Possibly should have? Although the logic of the film has to unfold around the build, it’s a build that takes place around a people with more stories to tell. Maybe that’s part of documentary art and craft. A film that leaves us with more questions than answers, that invites us to find out more. A deeper telling of the history definitely, and also for me, at a personal level, more about the building itself.
The main architect, Ivan Mercer, died before the project was officially opened, and the film was dedicated to to him. That was a
fitting touch, and in terms of eco-builds, the project very significant.
Watch this film and read this review alongside of another controversy. There is a second landmark architectural building in Te Uruwera, but it was felt as an imposition on a people, and will be left to slowly disappear. So the story of a people and their land and the people that travel through the misty mountains and walk around the beautiful lakes will be telling this story for decades and decades into the future.
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