This Way Of Life


Set against the imposing mountains and isolated beaches in a remote part of New Zealand, This Way of Life is an intimate portrait of a Maori family and their relationship with nature, adversity, their horses and society at large.

Peter and Colleen Karena are in their early 30’s. They have six children and 50 horses. Masterful in the saddle and Hollywood handsome, Peter is an outsider. Though European, Peter was adopted into a Maori family and is Maori in all but skin. Driven by an unresolved relationship with his father, Peter’s refusal to compromise and his interaction with his world calls into question our assumptions of bravery and heroism. He is a horse whisperer, thinker, hunter, builder, husband and father.

Colleen Karena (Ngati Maniapoto) is the keeper of her family’s taonga tuku iho (heritage). She is a parent in the old-fashioned sense, for her the family is the centre of the universe and mothering the most important job. The Karena kids are unfettered and exuberant, the idea of risk alien to them. Unimpaired by consumerism, the children’s Gameboys and PlayStations are real horses and real guns used to hunt venison for sustenance.

Shortlisted for 2011 Academy Awards.

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Peter Karena, Colleen Karena,

Directed by

Thomas Burstyn

Written by

Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Country Of Origin

New Zealand




"Resonant and stunningly shot"

Sunday Star Times

"Quietly profound, deeply poetic!"


"This way of life questions our modern way of living"

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