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
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.