White Lies

  • White Lies
Genre : Drama
Type : Fiction
Original title : Tuakiri Huna [Maori title]
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2013
Format : Feature
Running time : 96 (in minutes)

WHITE LIES is about the nature of identity: those who deny it and those who strive to protect it.

Paraiti (Whirimako Black) is a Medicine Woman.
She is the healer and midwife of her rural, tribal people - she believes in life. But new laws are in force prohibiting unlicensed healers.

On a rare trip to the city, she is approached by Maraea (Rachel House), the servant of a wealthy woman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), who seeks her knowledge and assistance in order to hide a secret which could destroy Rebecca's position in European settler society.

If the secret is uncovered a life may be lost, but hiding it may also have fatal consequences.

So Paraiti, Maraea and Rebecca become players in a head on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation.

Starring: WHIRIMAKO BLACK as Paraiti, ANTONIA PREBBLE as Rebecca Vickers & RACHEL HOUSE as Maraea

Feature film written and directed by Dana Rotberg and based on Witi Ihimaera's novella The Medicine Woman

A South Pacific Pictures feature film based on a novel by Witi Ihimaera, author of The Whale Rider.

New Zealand & Australia distributor: Madman Entertainment
International (ex NZ & Australia) distributor: The Film Sales Company

Runtime: 96 minutes
Producers: John Barnett and Chris Hampson
Director: Dana Rotberg
Executive Producer: Rosa Bosch
Writer: Dana Rotberg & Witi Ihimaera




DVD: $19.99

Historical Background

In late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand, most of the country's indigenous people - Māori - lived in predominantly rural areas and did not have significant access to Western medical, educational or social services.

The medical needs of many isolated Māori communities were provided by traditional healers who dealt with minor ailments as well as childbirth.

Many of these healers were male priests called tohunga who, while trained in traditional methodologies, were untrained in the Western medical practice of the day. In an attempt to set a "modern" standard of medical health and to quash what was considered to be superstitious and at times dangerous practice, the New Zealand Government passed an Act suppressing the activities of the tohunga and sought to replace traditional medicine with "modern" medicine. This act was known as the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 and it limited what services tohunga could provide to their communities.

However, the use of traditional Māori medicine continued in many areas, often in secret.

The genesis of this story actually began in the 1950s when Witi Ihimaera, the author of the originating literature, was taken to such a healer by his mother.

New Zealand's submission for the Best Foreign Language Feature Film category at the 2014 Academy Awards.

2014 Balinale International Film Festival
Audience Award - Best Overall Film

2014 La Costa Film Festival in California
Audience Choice award

The WIFTS Foundation Awards 2013:
- Best Director, Dana Rotberg
- The Barbara Tipple Best Actress Award, Antonia Prebble

The 2013 Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards:
- Best Production Design, Tracey Collins
- Best Make-Up, Abby Collins, Yolanda Bartram, Vee Gulliver, Andrew Beattie & Main Reactor

Massey University's Nga Kupu Ora Aotearoa Maori Book Awards
- Winner of fiction category (White Lies - the book by Dana Rotberg & Witi Ihimaera)


1 files


  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

With the support of