New Zealand is known for its multi-billion-dollar dairy industry, which not just caters to the local population but is also a major export earner. It is said that there are as many dairy cows in the country as there are people.
The fact that dairy is the lifeblood for the island nation, however, cannot hide the threat it is posing to the country’s environment and health of its citizens.
Exposing the whitewash of the New Zealand’s dairy industry is a powerful new documentary ‘MILKED’ that recently announced its international premiere at Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 2021.
Featuring Chris Huriwai, an extreme street unicyclist from Kaikohe in New Zealand, the film uncovers the hidden truth behind the country’s “source of national pride” – its dairy industry. It follows Chris as he travels around the country revealing “behind-the-scenes reality of the kiwi dairy farming fairy-tale”.
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The film also features some of the top personalities from the environmental movement including, primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, and actress-turned environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron, wife of filmmaker James Cameron. Keegan Kuhn, the co-director of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy, is also seen in the film.
The documentary shows how Aotearoa (the the Māori name for New Zealand), where cows are not native animals, has today become the biggest dairy exporter of dairy in the world and is now facing its “biggest threat” due to the same industry.
“We originally planned to investigate the environmental and health impacts of all animal agriculture in Aotearoa but once we got further into researching, it was obvious that dairy was the story to tell,” says MILKED Director and Producer Amy Taylor. “And with dairy giant Fonterra inviting Chris to meet with them and then backing out, we became even more curious about what was going on.”
According to Chris, the film focuses on several aspects of dairy, which every New Zealander should know. “I already knew a lot about the dairy industry and its trajectory before working on this project, but MILKED helped bring all the pieces together. This experience emphasised the urgency of these issues, but in a way that also provides a pathway for change,” he says.
MILKED weaves together a hard-hitting story supported by experts from the fields of ecology, economy, politics, medicine and more. It shows the brutal impact of the dairy of industry on environment and health, besides the endless suffering of millions of animals.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron describes it as “a powerful wake-up call that the world is getting milked”.
To be premiered on 6 November, 2021 at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch, the movie will screen throughout New Zealand during November and early December as part of Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 2021.