Topics: Crime, Entertainment

TVNZ’s murder film unresolved for grieving mum

By Aroha Awarau
  • North Island: West Coast

The day that Liz and Robert Crean were dreading has arrived. A movie about the gang execution of their son and brother Christopher, which they tired to shut down, will screen on TVNZ 1 this Sunday.

“To us, the film is like reliving his whole funeral,” says Robert.

Liz and Robert appeared on Native Affairs last year to try and stop the movie, called Resolve: The Chris Crean Story, from being made. Westside actor Pana Hema-Taylor will play Christopher in the film.

The father-of-four was just 27 when he was gunned down by Black Power members in 1996. He had witnessed gang members beat up a man outside his New Plymouth home. His murder was organised to prevent him from giving evidence in court. Four gang members were sentenced to life in prison for the killing and two have since been released on parole.  

Christopher refused witness protection and his stance forced changes in our legal history, ensuring that witnesses were fully protected from the criminals they were testifying against. 

NZ on Air gave production company Screentime NZ more than $2.5 million to produce the film. Liz and Robert say it was a waste of taxpayers money. A petition to shut down the production was unsuccessful.

“We were coming up against the big guns and it just got too much. We were tired of fighting,” says Robert.

He says the family has endured immense pain and suffering since Christopher’s death. Throughout the years, Christopher’s son, daughter, and his brother have taken their own lives.  

Despite their suffering, Liz says she and her whānau will be watching the film.

“I’m going to feel the emotional side of it.  But we’ve been through a lot and I know I will get through this.”

The film production received the blessing from Christopher’s widow Tania and his adult children. Tania, who is estranged from the Crean family, told Native Affairs last year that the film is an important story that needed to be told.

“I lived through this ordeal with Chris and this is my story as well. It has had not only a lasting impact on my life and the lives of our children but has impacted the law in our country.”

Producer Philly de Lacy told Native Affairs in September that she hoped Liz and Robert would change their viewpoint once they saw the film.