Wednesday April 24, 2013
DOCUMENTARY TELLS UNTOLD STORY OF TEINA PORA
Convicted twice of being party to a brutal rape and murder, Teina Pora has just begun his 21st year in prison. He continues to maintain he is innocent.
His story is the subject of a challenging new documentary to screen on Māori Television on Sunday, May 5 at 8.30pm.
THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T provides an exclusive overview of the case – from the reliability of Pora’s videotaped confessions, conducted over four days without a lawyer to the last-ditch appeal to have his conviction set aside. We also find out about members of Pora’s family who allegedly tried to blame him for the crime.
Produced by award-winning filmmakers Catherine Fitzgerald (The Orator, Rain of the Children) and Michael Bennett (Matariki), THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T sheds light on who Teina Pora is and why he made the confessions that changed his life.
Producer and director Michael Bennett says he was drawn to Pora’s case because it addresses social issues concerning Maori in contemporary New Zealand society.
“Rarely as a filmmaker do you find a story that is gripping and intriguing, but is also one where your work might actually make a real difference,” he says.
“In Teina Pora's story, there is an opportunity to explore many pressing questions - are Māori more vulnerable to false convictions? If so, why? Do Māori have equal access to justice? What will it take to make change?
“As a filmmaker of Māori descent, I feel both a sense of privilege and of responsibility to be able to use my craft to portray the story of a young Māori man who I believe has been tragically failed by a flawed justice system.”
In THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T we hear from key people including Pora’s daughter Channelle, who was only two years old when her father was imprisoned, his brother Patrick, sister Lobelia and former school teacher Grant Hobbs.
No one interviewed in the documentary – from Pora’s lawyers, past and present, to victim Susan Burdett’s brother – is convinced that he committed the crime.
“The more I have learned about Pora’s story, the more questions it raises,” says co-producer Catherine Fitzgerald
“It highlights that a conviction impacts on the lives and futures of many more individuals than those directly involved.
“The bigger picture for me begs why do we not have a Criminal Cases Review Commission as operates in Scotland and England? Sir Thomas Thorp highlighted the need for such a Commission in New Zealand more than seven years ago.”
Pora was denied parole earlier this month because he was found with contraband in his cell this year.
THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T premieres on Māori Television at 8.30pm on May 5.
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