Muru tells the story of the 2007 police raids on the people of Tūhoe, a series of armed invasions conducted in response to alleged paramilitary training camps in the Urewera mountain ranges near the town of Ruatoki.
The film doesn’t claim to be a retelling of what happened. Instead, the audience is urged to look at the film as a response. A response to continued efforts by the crown to inflict trauma on tangata whenua. A response to New Zealand, and a response to all those who invaded Tūhoe that day. The film should be praised for its decision to tell a different story. Diverting from the tale told to us is a bold creative decision that doesn’t dismiss the events of that day.
Filmed on location, Muru offers one of the most accurate representations of rural Māori community and culture. Cliff Curtis looks to have trained to speak with a Tūhoe dialect and offers a charismatic every-man performance playing Sergeant ‘Taffy’ Tawharau. Tūhoe activist Tame Iti plays himself and is unsurprisingly captivating, also giving us one of the best shots of cinema I have seen in a long time. When Tame decides to announce himself to the armed forces, he rides in with his cavalry in tow, making sure the invaders meet him kanohi ki te kanohi (eye to eye).
The cinematography is unreal. Te Urewera offers expansive shots of Papatūānuku. When director Tearepa Kahi sets the stage during the film’s first act, the camera remains static during shots of the land because maunga remain strong and unmoving, even during the chaos of Sergeant Taffys’ tumultuous story.
Muru brings new breadth to New Zealand history and action-cinema.