Paga Hill iconic human rights documentary banned from PNG festival

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

Activist lawyer Jose Moses as he appears in a Frontline Insight item about the Paga Hill struggle for justice
in Papua New Guinea. Video: Reuters Foundation

By Pacific Media Watch

An internationally acclaimed investigative documentary about Paga Hill community’s fight for justice from the illegal eviction and demolition of their homes in Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby has been banned from screening today at the PNG Human Rights Festival.

“The ban highlights the lingering limits on free speech in our country and the continued attempts to censor our story of resistance against gross human rights violations,” claimed Paga Hill community leader and lawyer Joe Moses, the main character in The Opposition film who had to seek exile in the United Kingdom after fighting for his community’s rights.

“This censorship comes as a deep disappointment for my community who have suffered greatly over the past six years.”

The Opposition tells the David-and-Goliath battles of a community evicted, displaced, abandoned – their homes completely demolished at the hands of two Australian-run companies, Curtain Brothers and Paga Hill Development Company, and the PNG state.

What was once home to 3000 people of up to four generations, Paga Hill is now part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit “AELM Precinct” which will take place this November.

The PNG Human Rights Film Festival.
Image: Programme screenshot

Moses said: “We appreciate the PNG Human Rights Film Festival for choosing to screen The Opposition film at their Madang and Port Moresby screenings.

“It is shameful that our government continues to limit free speech and put such pressure on our country’s only annual arts and human rights event. How does this make us look to the world leaders who will be coming here for the APEC meeting in November?”

‘Speak up today’
Under the theme “Tokautnau long senisim tumora” (Speak up today to change tomorrow) the mission of the PNG Human Rights Film Festival includes: “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

The international and local human rights films screened “promote increased respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Papua New Guinea”.

Paga Hill youth leader Allan Mogerema, who also features in the film said: “The right to freedom of speech and freedom of press is provided for under Section 46 of the PNG Constitution. By banning our story, the PNG government is in breach of our Constitution and our rights as Papua New Guinean citizens.”

The Opposition trailer.

As a human rights defender, Mogerema has been invited to the 2018 Annual Human Rights and People’s Diplomacy Training Programme for Human Rights Defenders from the Asia-Pacific Region and Indigenous Australia organised by the Diplomacy Training Programme (DTP) and the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) to share his story of the illegal land grab, eviction and demolition of his community.

“The film has already been screened in settlements across PNG and at the Human Rights Film Festival’s Madang screenings. No matter how hard they try to censor us, our story continues to live, and our fight for justice continues to thrive,” added Mogerema.

“No matter how long it takes, our community will get justice.”

Dame Carol Kidu is also featured in The Opposition film. Initially an advocate for the Paga Hill community, Dame Carol turned her back on them by setting up a consultancy to be hired by the Paga Hill Development Corporation, on a contract of $178,000 for three months’ work.

In 2017, she launched a legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW to censor the film. In June that year, the court ruled against Dame Carol’s application.


Frontline Insight: The Paga Hill struggle. Video: Reuters Foundation

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Banabans of Rabi short climate change documentary chosen for Nuku’alofa

The trailer for Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom’s short Bearing Witness documentary. Video: Banabans of Rabi

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

A short documentary, Banabans of Rabi – A Story of Survival, by Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom of Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, has been selected for the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival in Tonga next month.

This is a film produced out of the three-year-old Bearing Witness climate change project, a research and publication collaboration between the PMC and its documentary partner Te Ara Motuhenga, and the Pacific Centre for Environment-Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and the Regional Journalism Programme at the University of the South Pacific.

Banabans of Rabi: A story of Survival.

According to the filmmakers: “During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the island of Banaba were forcibly displaced to Rabi Island in Fiji due to phosphate mining by the British Phosphate Commission.

“The island of Banaba was decimated and the Banabans had to start afresh in Rabi. The documentary follows the people in Rabi and sheds light into the problems that they face now, especially with climate change.”

Film maker Blessen Tom said on the documentary’s Facebook page: “It’s an amazing news for all of us. The festival will be the first time the full documentary is screened in public.


“Super excited for the Pacific screening. If you’re in Tonga on November 22-23, be sure to visit us.”

Documentary maker and senior lecturer Jim Marbrook said: “This is great and it’s a very cool first step,” adding that plans should be made for other film festival entries.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie said: “This is a tremendous achievement for starters and a reward for the really hard work that Blessen and Hele have put into making this quality and inspirational doco.”

The 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Controversial ‘Confucius’ doco gets mixed response at NZ universities

In The Name Of Confucius trailer for the 52-minute documentary.

A Chinese government-sponsored cultural and education programme offers Mandarin lessons around the world. But a new film raises questions about a darker side of the Confucius Institutes, reports Rahul Bhattarai of Asia Pacific Journalism.

Chinese-born Canadian film director Doris Liu has had her visa to China denied but has never faced a direct threat or interference from the Beijing government over her controversial documentary In the Name of Confucius screened in Auckland last month.

Her visa to China has been rejected because of her investigative work, she told Asia Pacific Report.

Her documentary criticises Chinese policy and political influence through the multibillion dollar Chinese government-supported Confucius Institute programmes attached to 1600 universities and schools across the globe.

READ MORE: In The Name of Confucius

Three universities in New Zealand have ties with CI – University of Auckland (UOA), Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Victoria University of Wellington.


AUT and Victoria University welcomed the screening of the documentary.

But the University of Auckland cancelled its public screening on the day of the event – just hours before the documentary was due to be screened.

“I had already been rejected for a Chinese visa to enter China because of my journalism before making this film,” film maker Liu said.

Recorded, threatened
However, she added that during her interviews in one of the Canadian institutes, the Confucius Institute director had video recorded her and threatened that she would report her back to Beijing.

“The director used her smartphone to film me conducting an interview with the school board representatives,” Liu said.

“She told me that she would report back to Hanban in Beijing about my media presence.”

Liu added that “the interview didn’t end happily as the school representatives stopped the interview and they all walked away.

“After that I couldn’t get access to any Canadian Confucius Institutes, except for a couple of telephone interviews.

“I could imagine that Hanban informed all its Chinese directors working at the Canadian Confucius Institute not to accept my interview requests.”

Suppressing teachings
While talking to Mack Smith of 95bFM, Dr Catherine Churchman of Victoria University said about the institute policy, “you have to teach Mandarin, you are not allowed teach Cantonese or Hokkien”, or any of the other Chinese languages and “you have to teach in the simplified Chinese characters set”.

Dr Churchman said the main reason the institutes did not allow the teaching of traditional Chinese was to “suppress people” from being able to read documents from Taiwan or Hong Kong, or many other overseas countries.

Until the 1980s, the Chinese diaspora, including in New Zealand, used traditional Chinese characters to publish their literature.

Liu said that many of the texts published in China, including the literature from the Chinese Communist Party and its foreign affairs, were only in traditional Chinese.

Suppressing the traditional Chinese was a form of “censorship that the Chinese Communist Party has over things written inside China”, she said.

“They [CI] have a lot of influence over the institute itself, they pay for half of it usually, and they pay quiet a lot of money,” she said.

Liu claimed that Victoria University received about “half a million” dollars in 2016.

Institute ‘controlled’
The Confucius Institute was controlled by Hanban, which was controlled by the Chinese Ministry of Education, she said.

While the ministry might not necessarily have had direct influence over the institute, it did provide rules about what was allowed to be taught in the institute.

A Chinese protest placard among several against the Confucius Institutes on display at the end of the Auckland film screening. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

After Auckland University cancelled the public film screening, an official statement by
Associate Professor Phillipa Malpas said: “The event was prematurely advertised as being open to the public before it had been approved and confirmed by my faculty.

“It was subsequently approved for screening to University of Auckland staff and students.”

AUT screened the documentary at a public event on July 26 with a packed auditorium, including an Asia Pacific Report journalist present.

However, Alison Sykora, head of communications in AUT, said the Chinese Vice-Consul-General spoke to the university before the screening of the movie. The Vice-Consul had been given an invitation but AUT had not yet received a reply.

Chinese soft power
The documentary shows how China has been using CI in order to influence foreign countries through soft-power initiatives.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former chief of the Asia Pacific Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says in the film: “CI were used to manipulate not only the academic world, where they were implanted, but to also emanate more influence outside of the campus as well.”

The documentary says that the CI is an “infiltration organisation” that was founded in 2004 by the Chinese government under the guise of teaching foreign students Chinese culture and language.

Institute teachers were also forced to sign a contract that they were not members of the banned and persecuted spiritual group Falun Gong.

Last November, the Chinese government pressured the Japanese government in an attempt to cancel an international conference due to the planned showing of the documentary, but in spite of the pressure the screening went ahead.

The film was shown in an international human rights conference in Tokyo, receiving a good response from the global audience.

In The Name of Confucius has been shown 57 times in 12 countries.

Film maker Doris Liu said that the movie had been well received, with review ratings of 8.7 out of 10 on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and 4.8 out of 5 on Facebook.

Rahul Bhattarai is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘It’s up to God and the land’ on Vanuatu’s Ambae volcano isle

What the documentary team found on Ambae: “Volcanic ash is ever-present. Roads are carpeted with it, creating an uncannily smooth ride—where vehicles can still pass. Drone footage of an abandoned village on the approaches to the volcano shows a house constructed of timber and local materials that’s been flattened by the weight of ash upon it.” Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

By Dan McGarry in Port Vila

Over the course of a week earlier this month, a French/Ni-Vanuatu documentary team ventured to the summit of Ambae’s Mount Lombenben to see for themselves the effects of the Manaro-Vui volcano in Vanuatu.

What they saw was an island transformed.

One team member, a Ni-Vanuatu man, told the Vanuatu Daily Post how he had spoken to one Ambaean woman who was nearly ready to give up on trying to grow food.

READ MORE: Latest Ambae eruption produced worst ashfall

The crops kept dying, she said, and she kept planting. All she can do now, she told him, is hope that her garden would survive.

“It’s up to God and the land,” she said.

The Ambae volcano article as it appeared in the Vanuatu Daily Post at the weekend.


Throughout Ambae, and particularly in the western half of the island, communications are sparse, travel is becoming increasingly difficult, and supplies are alarmingly short. Water is a particular concern in the west.

The two roads joining the western and eastern ends of the island are cut by mudslides.

According to eyewitnesses, the roads are impassable to vehicles, so all travel and transport between the two sides has to go by boat or by plane.

Supply shortages
This appears to be leading to supply shortages in the west. According to one report, a 36-litre carton of bottled water now costs VT2400 (NZ$32).

But the biggest worry is what is on top of the island. The Manaro-Vui volcano, situated at the summit of Mount Lombenben, has utterly transformed its immediate vicinity, and a growing area around it.

The approach to the summit is tortuous, according to Philippe Carillo, whose video production company, Fusion Productions, has operated in Vanuatu since June last year.

The team was advised that fog descends on the summit by mid-morning most days, so in order to ensure clear skies for the crew, they departed from the area of Ndui Ndui village shortly after midnight.

The team struggled for eight hours through a morass of mud, muck and ash. Ash has blanketed a substantial area, killing all vegetation in a ring that’s now several kilometres in diameter.

Outside that area, volcanic ash is ever-present. Roads are carpeted with it, creating an uncannily smooth ride—where vehicles can still pass. Drone footage of an abandoned village on the approaches to the volcano shows a house constructed of timber and local materials that’s been flattened by the weight of ash upon it.

In some villages, ash is ankle-deep on the ground.

Shocking transformation
The higher you go up the mountainside, the more shocking the transformation. Even kilometres away from the caldera, a deep blanket of ash has choked all life. Deep runnels carved by rainwater make the path a tricky one.

The ashfall is so heavy in some areas that even locals no longer recognise the place. The group’s guide lost his bearings at least twice, sending the team casting about across the hillside waste land, trying to find their way.

After a gruelling eight-hour slog, the team finally crested the last hill overlooking what used to be lake Vui. It has been replaced by a kilometre-wide ash plain, reminiscent of a lunar landscape.

A tiny vestige of the lake remains, coloured brilliant red because evaporation has left it super-concentrated with iron and other minerals.

The scale of the devastation is hard to grasp from the ground. But drone imagery shows the true size of the cone that’s risen from the waters. Human figures almost are almost vanishingly small in this post-apocalyptic landscape.

The visuals are stunning, but the implications for the island are cause for concern. With this volume of ash, much of it still not packed down by wind and rain, the prospect of further damage downhill rises as the rainy season approaches.

Tree trunks and large limbs killed by the ashfall could well accompany the large volumes of mud that will inevitably flow down the hillsides. These could block existing streams and creeks, sending mud and water elsewhere and potentially posing an additional danger to villages, which are often situated near watercourses.

Mud damage risk
The Geohazards Unit has already issued advisories concerning this risk, and has identified an area covering more than two-thirds of the island as being at risk of damage from mud and water.

The team returned from the summit the late in the day, and later shared their results with local villagers. One member, Terence Malapa, assured the Daily Post that the team had shown deep and sincere respect for the strong tabu associated with the volcano.

They performed kastom ceremonies with the relevant chiefly authorities, he said, and went nowhere without permission.

Will they be returning soon? No, says Philippe Carillo. The walk to the summit was arduous.
“It was a once in a lifetime journey,” he said.

The team voluntarily briefed the National Disaster Management Office, who thanked them for their contribution.

Dan McGarry is media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post group. This article is republished with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesia’s Papua ‘cover-up reflex’ prompts police dormitory raid

A video of a demonstration marking the bloody Biak massacre of 6 July 1998 staged last year. Video: BBB Times

By Michelle Winowatan

Dozens of Indonesian military and police personnel raided a student dormitory in Surabaya on July 6 to stop the screening of a documentary about security force atrocities in Papua.

It is the latest example of the government’s determination not to deal with past abuses in the country’s easternmost province.

Security forces carried out the raid following social media postings about the planned screening of the documentary Bloody Biak (Biak Berdarah).

READ MORE: Police claim raid on Papuan students to block ‘Bloody Biak’ film screening

The film documents Indonesian security forces opening fire on a peaceful pro-Papuan independence flag-raising ceremony in the town of Biak in July 1998, killing dozens.

A Guardian report about a “citizens’ tribunal” hearing about the 1998 Biak massacre published on 13 December 2013. Image: PMC


Security forces said the dorm raid was necessary to prevent unspecified “hidden activities” by Papuan students.

The raid is emblematic of both the Indonesian government’s failure to deliver on promises of accountability for past human rights abuses in Papua and its willingness to take heavy-handed measures to stifle public discussion about those violations.

The government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has not fulfilled a commitment made in 2016 to seek resolution of longstanding human rights abuses, including the Biak massacre and the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that killed dozens and displaced thousands.

Killing with impunity
Meanwhile, police and other security forces that kill Papuans do so with impunity.

Media coverage of rights abuses in Papua are hobbled by the Indonesian government’s decades-old access restrictions to the region, despite Jokowi’s 2015 pledge to lift them.

Domestic journalists are vulnerable to intimidation and harassment from officials, local mobs, and security forces.

The government is also hostile to foreign human rights observers seeking access to Papua.

Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said he was “concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the government’s invitation to my Office to visit Papua – which was made during my visit in February – has still not been honoured”.

The raid in Surabaya signals the government’s determination to maintain its chokehold on public discussion of human rights violations across Indonesia.

This suggests that the government’s objective is to maintain Papua as a ”forbidden island” rather than provide transparency and accountability for human rights abuses there.

Michelle Winowatan is a Human Rights Watch intern. The Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project monitors Asia-Pacific rights issues.

The scene at the Indonesian police raid on Papuan student quarters in Surabaya over the film Bloody Biak. Image:

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

O’Neill ‘undermining’ Bougainville peace deal, vote plan, says Miriori

The trailer for New Zealand documentary maker Will Watson’s forthcoming documentary about the Bougainville peace process, Soldiers Without Guns. Video: Boosted

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A Bougainvillean leader has accused Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of “undermining” the island’s 17-year-old peace agreement and the independence vote due next year.

Martin Miriori also condemned O’Nell for lacking sensitivity over Bougainville that struck a New Zealand-brokered peace agreement which ended a 10-year civil war and included a referendum vote on independence.

Miriori, a Panguna landowner and pro-independence leader, was reacting to a statement by O’Neill at the Business Forum in Brisbane last week and repeated in PNG’s The National newspaper that the vote was not about independence, but what was best for the people of Bougainville.

“When the prime minister comes out openly making such a statement in public, my view is that he is already undermining the good intentions and the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement which, among other issues, clearly states that the issue of independence for Bougainville will be also among the options for a referendum vote to be taken by the people [in] June next year,” he said today in a statement.


“This is also the common understanding of the international community as well [as] including the United Nations,” Miriori said.

“For the prime minister to water down the main focus on the independence issue at this time is simply a big slap on the face [of] the people of Bougainville.”

Miriori said Bougainvilleans would not have “fully committed themselves” to the joint partnership with Papua New Guinea in the peace process if they knew that they were “going to be tricked”.

“We must not lose the trust and confidence of the people at all cost, and in doing so try to confuse them by making such statements, which could easily undermine all our good work and tireless efforts being invested in this very delicate and sensitive process since we first fully committed ourselves at Burnham [New Zealand] in July 1997 towards achieving lasting peace by peaceful means,” Miriori said.

RNZ Pacific reports that O’Neill told the Business Forum in Brisbane that when the outcome of the referendum was tabled in the national Parliament, he was sure every MP would vote in the interests of a unified and harmonious country.

Guitars instead of guns
Meanwhile, the film maker of a forthcoming documentary about the Bougainville peace process, Soldiers Without Guns, has released a trailer.

In a social media message message to supporters last week, Will Watson said: “We were celebrating the 20th anniversary of lasting peace for Bougainville yesterday.

“Yes, the 30 April 1998 was the signing of the peace accord.

“The other big news is that I completed the trailer for the upcoming movie, Soldiers Without Guns. It took lots of work but I think it describes the Pacific’s worst civil war and peacekeeping with guitars instead of guns.

“Still lots of work to do to complete the film. I hope you like the trailer.

“I have been inspired to tell this story for the last 12 years. I am now very close to completing the feature length film.”

Watson won the 2017 Cannes Film Festival peace feature for his documentary Haka and Guitars.

He has appealed for support in a funding campaign to complete the Bougainville project.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tide of Change – documentary by USP students explores climate action

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tide of Change – documentary by USP students explores climate action

The Tide of Change climate adaptation documentary by university of the South Pacific student journalists. Video: Wansolwara

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The people of Natawaru Settlement in Fiji have seen their humble livelihoods grow more precarious as the effects of climate change take their toll.

From rising seas, depleted fish stocks and rising temperatures, the community is faced with a struggle for survival.

However, the people, who live near Fiji’s second city Lautoka on Viti Levu island, have declared themselves a “violence free community”.

Tide of Change is a short documentary film by student journalists at the University of the South Pacific: Koroi Tadulala, Aachal Chand, Mitieli Baleiwai, Venina Rakautoga and Kaelyn Dakuibure

Producer: Dr Olivier Jutel

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Kiribati – a Pacific ‘drowning paradise’ fighting for its existence

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Kiribati – a Pacific ‘drowning paradise’ fighting for its existence

DW Documentary reports on Kiribati’s struggle for survival with climate change. Video: DW

DOCUMENTARY: By Markus Henssler

Climate change and rising sea levels mean the island nation of Kiribati in the South Pacific is at risk of disappearing into the sea.

But the island’s inhabitants aren’t giving up. They are doing what they can to save their island from inundation.

Their survival story was featured this month at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

UN estimates indicate that Kiribati could disappear in just 30 or 40 years.

This is because the average elevation is less than 2m above sea level.


And some of the knock-on effects of climate change have made the situation more difficult.

Kiribati can hardly be surpassed in terms of charm and natural beauty.

There are 33 atolls and one reef island – spread out over an area of 3.5 million sq km.

All have white, sandy beaches and blue lagoons.

Largest atoll nation
Kiribati is the world’s largest state that consists exclusively of atolls.

A local resident named Kaboua points to the empty, barren land around him and says, “There used to be a large village here with 70 families.”

But these days, this land is only accessible at low tide. At high tide, it’s all under water.

Kaboua says that sea levels are rising all the time, and swallowing up the land. This is why many people here build walls made of stone and driftwood, or sand or rubbish.

But these barriers won’t stand up to the increasing number of storm surges.

Others are trying to protect against coastal erosion by planting mangrove shrubs or small trees.

But another local resident, Vasiti Tebamare, remains optimistic. She works for KiriCAN, an environmental organisation.

She says: “The industrialised countries — the United States, China, and Europe — use fossil fuels for their own ends. But what about us?”

Kiribati’s government has even bought land on an island in Fiji, so it can evacuate its people in an emergency.

But Vasiti and most of the other residents don’t want to leave.

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‘Everything can be burnt’ – Melanesian West Papua in the Jokowi era

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘Everything can be burnt’ – Melanesian West Papua in the Jokowi era

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The face of West Papuan society is changing but RNZ International found that the core culture of the indigenous people of Indonesia’s Papua region is not easily destroyed. Video: RNZI

On an island with the third largest rainforest in the world live an indigenous people who are quickly becoming a minority in their own land.

Sitting north of Australia and occupying the western half of the island of New Guinea is West Papua – a territory rich in natural resources which was formally but controversially absorbed into Indonesia in the 1960s following the withdrawal of Dutch colonial administration.

Indonesia’s Papua region: the provinces of West Papua and Papua. Map: RNZI

West Papuans were largely excluded from that decision and for the past 50 years they have raised concerns about the infringement of their basic human rights in modern Indonesia.

Joko Widodo’s government has rejected these concerns saying living standards are improving for people in the Papua region, which appears at odds with the growing number of demonstrations by West Papuans calling for a legitimate self-determination process and an end to rights abuses.

Regardless, Indonesian rule means the face of West Papuan society is changing rapidly, but Radio New Zealand International journalists Johnny Blades and Koroi Hawkins found that the core ideology of these Melanesian people is not easily destroyed.

RNZI’s Johnny Blades and Koroi Hawkins (video camera) interview the elusive Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe in 2015. Photo: Koroi Hawkins/RNZI

Written and produced by: Johnny Blades

Camera: Koroi Hawkins

Editor: Jeremy Brick

This documentary was first broadcast by RNZ International and has been republished here with permission.