Interview: ‘Not Just Another Mountain’ director Chris Davis

Not Just Another Mountain is a short documentary exploring the significance that One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie holds to Aucklanders and the nation as a whole. We asked director Chris Davis five quick questions about the film as part of our #NZIFFastFive series of Q&As.

Please summarise your film in EXACTLY ten words.

Endearing snap-shot of our beautiful oasis and beloved icon – Maungakiekie.

Can you remember when, and why, you first visited Maungakiekie? Besides making this film, what takes you there nowadays?

One of my first trips to Maungakiekie was as a young adult recently arrived in Auckland.  I was on some kind of pilgrimage, having seen the silhouetted shape of One Tree Hill – tree intact – on childhood trips to the city.  I remember playing One Tree Hill on the car stereo as I drove in to the park – it was a truly epic moment.  Unfortunately my girlfriend of the time just didn’t get it – what’s the big deal about a song and a tree?  Needless to say, although that didn’t cause the break-up, I’m sure it didn’t help…

These days I go there regularly to walk/run/relax.

How do you think Aucklanders look at the felling of the pine in the late 90s?

The tree was an important part of the city’s emotional landscape, so I think its loss became connected with other losses in people’s lives.  Partly for that reason, discussing the tree still evokes strong emotions for some.

Most people I talked to though seem to acknowledge that, while they found it extremely provocative at the time, they have learned something from it.  Perhaps people are more aware of Treaty injustices, and the ongoing, negative effects of colonialism because of protests like this one.

What was it like to meet the range of people who work, and utilise, the park?

The most fun part about making this documentary was undoubtedly meeting the people who visit the maunga and Cornwall Park.  I think One Tree Hill brings out the best in us as Aucklanders – we smile at passing pedestrians, stop to chat, take a moment to reflect – the wairua of the place really resonates with people.  So, despite the huge range of cultures and activities that take place, there seems to be a genuine sense of connection and community.

What was the last great film you experienced?

Love Story by Florian Habicht was the last really good documentary I saw.  His films have an effortless quality – endlessly fun, but touching on some big themes in a really disarming way.  I’m looking forward to seeing Spookers

‘Not Just Another Mountain’ plays at the NZ International Film Festival