44 Patu

Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling documentary record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the filmmakers and marchers, Patu! is a landmark in New Zealand’s film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were “a passionless people”.

“The most controversial, and the most contested, event in recent New Zealand history was the 1981 South African rugby tour. Half the country was opposed to the tour, the establishment was determined the tour would go ahead, and the result was a country divided against itself almost to the point of civil war. This incredible documentary shows what happened. The actual filming was both dangerous and difficult and attempts were made to have the negative confiscated… [Merata Mita’s] achievement is as impressive technically as it is effective emotionally. A major documentary of our time.” – London Film Festival.

“Many people gave their time, money and equipment to see Patu! completed, and it could never have been done otherwise. I was asked repeatedly if I thought I was the right person to make the film, or why I was making it. The reason I was asked the question was that some people told me they feared that the film would not be accurate because it would have a Maori perspective! The Pakeha bias in all things recorded in Aotearoa was never questioned. The other reason they gave was that my politics extended no further than the Maori and the marae, and was I sure I understood the international ramifications of the tour. Yes, Patu! has a Maori perspective but it does not override the mass mobilisation of New Zealand’s white middle class, neither does it take credit from those who rightly deserve it, everyone who put themselves on the line. My perspective encourages people to look at themselves and examine the ground they stand on, while fighting racial injustice thousands of miles across the sea.” – Merata Mita.

“The year the Film Archive was founded was also the year the Springbok Tour revealed a huge division in New Zealand society. As thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims of apartheid, battalions of film makers and photographers recorded the confrontations with police and rugby diehards. The credit list on this film is a who’s who of the renaissance of New Zealand cinema. Their contributions, running to many hours, were edited into an incredibly persuasive feature by Merata Mita. ‘You may even be in it’ ran the tagline on the posters, but the tone of the film is far from self-congratulatory. Mita was determined that Patu! screenings not become the RSA for anti-tour vets. Disgust at apartheid and dissatisfaction with New Zealand race relations are inseparable in her film.” – Bill Gosden, New Zealand International Film Festival, 2006

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/patu-1983
http://www.filmarchive.org.nz/now-showing/patu/view/2012-12-14