Geoff Murphy – UTU (1983)


During the New Zealand Maori Wars, Lance Corporal Te Wheke becomes enraged when a British military raid destroys a village and murders his fellow tribe members. Deciding he’s had enough, Te Wheke takes up “utu”, an eternal vengeance quest against the white man and his establishment.

Using extreme violence, Te Wheke murders and pillages churches and farms, rousing his fellow domesticated Maori into fighting alongside him while doing so. On one raid, Te Wheke kills the wife of the wrong man, Williamson, and sets Williamson off into his own murderous rage against the Maori raiders.

Stuck in the middle of all this madness is a young British army officer, Lt. Scott. Returning home to New Zealand after years in South Africa, he finds the natives and the British armies fighting a senseless and violent war over a series of senseless events and mistakes.

The three men’s paths cross, lit in their own ways by the passions of utu, which provides the ultimate test for whether British justice is justice at all for the Maori people. Continue reading