Film inspired by 2007 Urewera raids premieres in Auckland

The global premiere of Muru, a new film inspired by the 2007 Urewera Raids, has kicked off in Auckland.

Screenshot from the trailer of Muru, starring Cliff Curtis.

Directed by Tearepa Kahi, the film will show how armed police swooped in on the people of Tūhoe, detained innocent people, and left an enduring impact on the community.

Nita Ngamotu had just moved out of Ruatoki when the raids began. She saw everything unfold on the news.

"My mum and my younger sister were separated and they were put down in my shed with my younger brother, who was three years old at the time. They were strip-searched, my father was detained and arrested," she said.

"My little brother was starving, they were all starving. They had no kai that day, but they were watching the policeman eat their lunch. So, you can imagine, being a māmā watching your kids go through that."

None of the 18 people arrested were charged under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Kahi sought permission from the Tūhoe community to tell their story and received some challenging feedback.

"One of the people there said, 'Well, I'm keen on this because this is just gonna capture the events of a single day, whereas the Crown had been doing this to us to Tūhoe for over 100 years, and if you can tell that story then we're in.' Everyone in the whare nodded.

"I think we've come up with something that responds to the challenge that she put down and also speaks to the hearts and minds of everyone that's gonna see this," he said.

Actor Cliff Curtis plays the role of a local police officer facing tough decisions when he learns the police plan to raid his community.

"This is the character that really has to face the biggest dilemma - loyal to the badge or loyal to Tūhoe?" Kahi said.

Activist and artist Tame Iti, one of four people convicted on firearms charges after the raids, plays himself.

Kahi said no one else could have done the job.

"I refused to see any actors even though all the casting agents were offering people, saying, 'We got this guy.'

"I was like, 'No, there is only one person who can play Tame, and that is Tame.'"

There's hope the film will continue to shine a light on a dark moment in our history.

"People say 'move on'. But, how can you move on when so many people within our country are still ignorant of it?" said Kahi.

Ngamotu just wanted people to know the impact it had on her whānau.

"There's still a lot of trauma and a lot of healing to be done," she said.

"This is gonna affect my family for the rest of our lives."