A young boy grapples with something bigger than he realises: the love within himself brought into focus through his relationship with his dying mother and this love's power of transcendence in times of pain and loss. A multi-award winning film.
Paul’s mum, a music teacher in a poor suburb, is terminally ill. Sensitive to his mum’s love of music, Paul pushes her in her wheelchair as she listens to a Debussy prelude. Soon after, seeking to prove himself to some older boys, Paul shoots a pigeon belonging to the neighbouring Apirana family who we learn offer nothing but kindness.
Shocked by this incident, Paul returns to his house where he witnesses his mother receiving a morphine injection to relieve the intensity of her suffering. He feels he mustn’t leave her and is led away against his will by Mary Apirana to play with her daughter Glenys. When Glenys shows Paul how to lick drops of fat dripping off eels hanging in her dad’s smoothing shed, Paul starts to develop a crush on her.
That night, Paul dreams of seeing Glenys sitting on her house in the street outside his house. Paul wakes up and goes through to tell his ailing mum. He works up enough courage to confess to her that he killed Glenys’s pigeon, but his mum drifts into a deep sleep before he can finish.
After school the next day, Paul steals a toy ring from the local dairy to give to his mum. Excited, he runs home, only to find the house empty and his mum gone. Mary Apirana takes Paul to the hospice where his dadis waiting for him. Paul’s dad tries to comfort him as he holds his dying mum’s hand.
At his mum’s wake, Paul sees Glenys across a room full of adults and chooses this moment to give her the stolen ring. Paul and Glenys stand hand in hand, profoundly affected by a waiata lament sung by Mary Apirana for Paul’s mum.