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The cast of the film The Mountain/Te Maunga (Madmen)

The Mountain/Te Maunga explores the journey of three children as they seek solace under the watchful gaze of New Zealand’s Mount Taranaki. Source: Australian Catholics.

We are introduced to three 11-year-olds: one girl and two boys. The girl, Sam (Atkinson), is first seen doing some martial arts moves but we soon find that she is in hospital with cancer. She is fussed over by her mother, but has never known her father. 

Then there is a sad boy, Mallory (Francis), doing imaginary strumming. His father is somewhat withdrawn after the death of his wife, while Mallory grieves for his mother. 

Sam and Mallory encounter a Māori boy, Bronco (Daniel), who is feeling rebellious against his father, a security guard at the hospital.

Sam’s great desire is to achieve something, such as climbing to the top of Mount Taranaki. Not quite aware of her Maori background, she is still moved by the mountain and its mystery – a religious and psychological link.

In fact, as the three come together and set out on the venture, Bronco – proud of his Māori heritage – helps the audience appreciate that what began as a venture, then an adventure, is now a quest.

The local photography has moments of beauty. The emphasis on Māori heritage is explicit, opening up the culture to a wider audience. And there is a common-sense approach to how the quest finishes: real rather than romanticised.

The Mountain/Te Maunga: Starring Elizabeth Atkinson, Terrence Daniel, Reuben Francis, Byron Coll, Troy Kingi, Sukena Shah, Fern Sutherland. Directed by Rachel House. 89 minutes. Rated PG.


The Mountain / Te Maunga (Australian Catholics)