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REVIEW: Given the federal government’s recent apology for the targeted “dawn raids” of the 1970s, a new six-part drama centered on that turbulent time in New Zealand historical past arrives with nearly immaculate timing.

Created by Halaifonua Finau (Three’s mini-series on Jonah Lomu) and Kiwi actor-turned-uber-producer Tom Hern, The Panthers (which debuts in its entirety on TVNZ OnDemand on Sunday, with the primary episode additionally screening on TVNZ 1 the identical evening at 9.30pm) is an evocative and provocative retelling of the rise of the Polynesian Panthers.

Inspired by America’s Black Power motion, they had been a group of younger road gangsters and college college students who united to create a extra organised, much less chaotic resistance to the dual “porcine” perils of a seemingly racist police pressure and a power-hungry would-be New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon (Roy Billing, completely forged in phrases of physicality, if not voice).

The Panthers’ sees Dimitrius Koloamatangi star as Polynesian Panther Party co-founder Will 'Ilolahia.

Supplied/Supplied

The Panthers’ sees Dimitrius Koloamatangi star as Polynesian Panther Party co-founder Will ‘Ilolahia.

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Our focus is on Will ‘Ilolahia (Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi), a Tongan first-year university medicine and politics student who finds himself in trouble with the authorities after he and his mates are caught red-handed stealing a fish.

All are held on trumped-up charges, the threat of deportation looming over them as their immigration status is carefully scrutinised. But while the others are left in limbo or worse, Will is quickly bailed, the result of his father’s employment with the Governor General.

That leaves him not solely with deeply embarrassed and dissatisfied dad and mom, but additionally offside together with his buddies, disgruntled at his particular therapy. “We’re not brainy and we haven’t got dads to look after our black asses,” one laments.

Meanwhile, have simply as a exhausting a time becoming in to her environment is Carolyn (Chelsie Preston Crayford). She may need solely moved from Southland to Ponsonby, but it surely’s like a totally different world – and she or he’s discovering the locals a little tough. She can also’t, at the least initially, perceive why none of her husband’s police colleagues reside within the space.

While he assures her that issues will ultimately calm down, a evening of violence belies that perception. However, that’s additionally the catalyst for Will to conclude that being smashed or arrested for tearing up the city most actually isn’t a viable long-term step in the direction of altering their scenario.

Roy Billing plays Robert Muldoon in The Panthers.

Supplied

Roy Billing performs Robert Muldoon in The Panthers.

One of 5 siblings (together with extra well-known thespians Robbie and Pua), Samoan actor-turned-director Miki Magasiva does a terrific job of creating a sense of house and place, with the present’s manufacturing and costume design successfully transporting the viewer again to the sartorial and decor nightmare of the mid-Nineteen Seventies.

He additionally comes up with an audacious opening, Troy Kingi entrance and centre as he delivers a pitch-perfect, stirring rendition of My Heart Never Sleeps, setting the tone for the occasions forward. While it appears a little at odds with the extra linear story that follows, it actually does the job of drawing you in from the get go.

If some of the characters really feel a little under-developed and Billing’s Muldoon a bit an excessive amount of of a caricature of his later days in workplace, quite than the start, then that’s offset by the spectacular, charismatic Schuster-Koloamatangi and the sight of lastly seeing a properly put-together dramatisation of a darkish chapter in New Zealand chapter, controversial Hanna-Barbera cartoons and all.

The Panthers debuts in its entirety on TVNZ OnDemand on Sunday, with the primary episode additionally screening on TVNZ 1 the identical evening at 9.30pm.

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