Taffy (Cliff Curtis) on horseback - Muru 2022 © Jawbone Pictures, Wheke Group Limited. Photo Christopher Pryor
Inspired by actual 2007 events, Muru is a response to the illegitimate raids by Government armed forces on the people of Tūhoe. Muru is a response to the raids, not a reenactment. It tells the story of local Police Sergeant ‘Taffy’ Tāwharau (Cliff Curtis), who must choose between duty to his badge or to protect his people, when the Government invoke antiterrorism powers to launch an armed raid on Taffy’s remote Te Urewera community. Muru aspires to capture the heart and spirit of the Tūhoe people and te reo o Tūhoe.
Muru is an action-drama film from award-winning New Zealanders, Writer and Director Tearepa Kahi (Poi E: The Story of our Song, Mt. Zion), world renowned Actor Cliff Curtis and Artist Tame Iti, the film is a response to the 2007 Tūhoe raids.
The film opened the Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival and will premiere in the opening weekend of the Contemporary World Cinema programme of the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Muru is the first feature film to be funded under Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) He Pounamu Te Reo Māori Feature Film Fund, which is administered by NZFC’s Te Rautaki Māori team.
He Pounamu Te Reo Māori Feature Film Initiative is an annual fund for the production of dramatic feature films in te reo Māori. The fund aims to increase the number of films produced in te reo Māori and develop more culturally appropriate production financing pathway for these films.
Filmed in Te Urewera and Rūātoki, Muru also stars New Zealanders Jay Ryan (IT Chapter Two, The Furnace), Manu Bennett (The Hobbit trilogy) and Simone Kessell (Obi-Wan Kenobi). Support cast includes Poroaki Merritt-McDonald (Savage), Roimata Fox (Waru) and Ria Te Uira Paki (The Dead Lands).
Kahi commented, “Working alongside Cliff and our incredible cast, in Tame’s backyard, in Tame’s native tongue, was a shared dream we’ve been working on for a long time. I’m hopeful that national recognition of Matariki, a month-long commitment to Reo Māori through Mahuru Māori - Māori language month of September; means we’re ready as Aotearoa to open ourselves to a film like Muru."
Lead producer Reikura Kahi (Poi E: The Story of our Song) said Muru is a powerful and revealing te reo Māori language film with strong performances from a dream cast. “Muru is not a re-creation of the events, but a story which weaves the deep past and the recent present together, in order to reach a place, we deserve now more than ever.”
Kahi worked with New Zealanders, cinematographer Fred Renata (Poi E: The Story of our Song, Mt. Zion), Academy Award winning editor John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge, The Lord of the Rings) and composer Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper (Shadow in the Cloud) to bring Muru to life. Reikura Kahi is the lead producer, alongside producers Selina Joe and Tame Iti.
Muru was made with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Government's Screen Production Grant, Arclight Films International, Te Māngai Pāho, Irirangi Te Motu - NZ On Air, Three, Imagezone, Images & Sound and completed with the assistance of the New Zealand Government’s Screen Production Recovery Fund. Arclight Films are handling ROW Sales with Rialto Distribution releasing the film in New Zealand and Australia.
The New Zealand Screen Production Grant
Muru utilised the New Zealand Screen production Grant. The New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) for New Zealand Productions is part of the Government’s screen incentives scheme. Eligible productions can access a cash rebate equivalent to 40% of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE).
This grant is capped at NZ$6 million per production unless the production qualifies for an Additional Grant, which is available to productions that can meet additional criteria and have QNZPE from NZ$15 million to NZ$50 million.
The purpose of the New Zealand Grant is twofold:
To build the sustainability, scale and critical mass of the domestic film industry and support the development of New Zealand creatives.
To provide cultural benefits to New Zealand by supporting the creation of New Zealand content and stories.
The New Zealand Film Commission administers the NZSPG for New Zealand Productions on behalf of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
A NZSPG for International Productions is also available and includes a Post, Digital and Visual Effects Grant. Click here for more information.
Set in 2007, Tāneatua on the East Coast of New Zealand, Muru is based on a real event - a raid by the New Zealand Government's elite Special Tactics Group on a remote Māori township as they search for evidence of terrorism. During the raid, a single gunshot is fired, triggering a chain reaction of events which ultimately forces local Tūhoe Police Sergeant, Taffy, to make a choice between allegiance to his badge, or the safety of his whānau (family), bringing him into the deadly path of Captain Gallagher and Sgt. Kimiora.
Muru is in NZ cinemas September 1.