- The Price of Peace dir. by Kim Webby
On 15 October 2007, three hundred New Zealand police, including the Armed Offenders Squad and the Special Tactics Group, invaded the small town of Ruatoki (population 600). Their purpose was to execute a warrant issued under the New Zealand Summary Proceedings Act 1957 to search for evidence of a paramilitary training camp in the nearby Urewera mountain ranges. The police commissioner and the New Zealand Government believed that the alleged camp was in breach of the New Zealand Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
I was in New Zealand when the raids took place. I remember judging the Primary School National Kapa Haka (Māori Performing Arts) Competitions in Auckland when news reached us of "the raids." A couple of weeks later, I remember sitting with some friends from Ruatoki and listening to their kids speak of their experience: "Yea, the ninjas came to get us. They were dressed all in black, they had weapons and they jumped on our bus on our way to school and started yelling at us and telling us to get off the bus. I was really scared and started to cry."
The documentary The Price of Peace takes a huge spotlight and shines it on the events that took place before, during, and after those raids and how they affected the people, families, and community of Ruatoki. It highlights the processes of a hypocritical national government that, in the guise of preventing terrorism, perpetrated terrorist acts against a defenseless community, including infiltrating a school bus filled with elementary to high school aged children.
The primary target of the raids, and star of the film, is Tame Iti. Tame Iti was born to my grandaunt, Mākere Iti. Mākere is the youngest sister of my grandmothers, Te Hariru Penetito and Anne Clark. Anne married Charlie and they had Robyn Clark. Robyn married Thomas Roa and I am their firstborn. Iti was raised in Ruatoki under the shelter of the Urewera ranges by his whāngai (adoptive) parents among the proud tribe of Tūhoe, although his mother, Aunty Mākere, hails from Ngāti Hauā and Ngāti Wairere, the kingmakers of the Tainui people.
This film is predominantly centered on Iti and the role that he played, and continues to play, as a staunch Māori activist. He was targeted and labeled as the ringleader of the now famous "Urewera Four" who, five years after the police raids, were convicted of firearms charges. Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were each sentenced to two and a half years in jail. Emily Bailey and Urs Signer were sentenced to nine months home detention.
The film is titled The Price of Peace, a reference to the price Māori pay for peace in New Zealand, but it might have been more aptly titled "The Tame Iti Show" since the film is really about him. While the documentary takes up some historical discussion of the turbulent history of the [End Page 399] Tūhoe people and their dealings with the New Zealand Government, it is clear from the outset that this is Iti's story. There is a scene in the film, for example, in which he exits the courthouse and is immediately swarmed by the media. His response is a Māori version of a children's nursery rhyme, "Hey Diddle Diddle": "Hei tiratira, te ngeru me te whira, te kau peke runga te marama. Ka kata te kuri ki ōna mahi pai. Ka oma te rihi me te pūne." I believe his use of this nursery rhyme was his way of subverting, defusing, and making visible the irony of the state's actions. He then remarks, "Welcome to the circus folks, welcome to the show." And what a show it was. The New Zealand media loved him, plastering his image on front pages of newspapers and magazines...