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University of Auckland filmmaker challenges NZ’s role in Afghanistan

Friday 19 April 2013

University of Auckland filmmaker challenges NZ’s role in Afghanistan

The University of Auckland’s Professor Annie Goldson has co-directed and produced He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, a documentary which explores New Zealand’s military engagement in Afghanistan. It is due to screen on Maori Television on the eve of Anzac Day.

Award-winning filmmakers Annie Goldson (Brother Number One, An Island Calling) and Kay Ellmers (Canvassing the Treaty, Polynesian Panthers), have directed and produced this documentary which backgrounds some of Afghanistan’s turbulent history and gives an overview of the engagement, providing context to the post 9/11 invasion.

Funded by New Zealand on Air, the film was supported by The University of Auckland through its Department of Film TV and Media Studies where Professor Goldson is a member of the academic staff.

He Toki Huna takes viewers on the ground in Afghanistan with independent New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson as he seeks eyewitness accounts of incidents involving New Zealand troops. It also includes interviews with soldiers who have served on the front line in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is the longest ever war in which this country has played a part. Professor Goldson says the documentary sheds light on our recent past and holds valuable lessons for the future.

"By joining in the war post-911, have we been 'good global citizens' fighting the good fight against international terrorism? Or did New Zealand enter into an alliance that has meant our soldiers have been actively and militarily involved in a complex conflict that most of us know little about and have not agreed to participate in?”

“The film does pose some uncomfortable questions about the political motivations that sent young New Zealand men and women to battle in a very ill-defined war against an unclear and shifting ‘enemy’, supporting a new Afghan ‘state’ with little support amongst its own population,” says fellow director/producer Kay Ellmers

Professor Goldson said most New Zealanders’ knowledge of our military engagement in Afghanistan will have been acquired through “embedded” media reports that have been carefully controlled.

She added that the timing of the documentary premiere was very deliberate. “We’ve been making the film over the past two years and were always planning to release it as New Zealand troops withdrew, thus providing an overview and analysis of New Zealand's involvement in Afghanistan.”

He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan premieres on Maori Television on Wednesday 24 April at 8.30pm.


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