Story

Mt Zion is a coming-of-age story set in rural New Zealand in 1979. It follows a family of hard-working Māori potato pickers from Pukekohe. Turei (Stan Walker) works in the family business, but he’s also a talented musician who dreams of his band being the support act at Bob Marley’s Western Springs concert. The dream puts him at odds with his entire family, however, and he struggles to balance what he wants with the traditions and values of his upbringing. His father (Temuera Morrison), a true ‘man of the land’, finds Turei’s choices particularly difficult to handle.

After Turei’s father is seriously injured one night while working, the small community pulls together to donate money to the family. In a moment of desperation, Turei steals the money to ensure his band can play at the concert. Once they discover what he has done, the townspeople shun him. But Turei tries hard to make it up to them and eventually regains the respect of his friends and family.

Themes

Family conflict; culture and identity; forgiveness

Violence

This movie has limited violence. One example is when Turei’s desire to audition makes his brother Hone late for work. Consequently Hone loses his job. He punches Turei to the ground, but the violence is merely heard and not seen on screen.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Nothing of concern 

From 5-8

Nothing of concern 

From 8-13

Nothing of concern 

Over 13

Children in this age group might be disturbed or confused by the situation of Turei’s friend, whom he calls Cuz. She appears to be in a paid sexual relationship of some kind. It isn’t clear exactly what she does, but she refers to the relationship as her ‘job’, says that she can’t leave and feels trapped. She also often looks extremely upset and down. 

Sexual references

This movie has a few sexual references. For example:

  • When Layla approaches Turei and his friends while they’re swimming, she says, ‘Calm down, I’ve seen it all before’.
  • While Turei and his band are nervously waiting at the audition, they stare at posters of their favourite musicians. Layla wants them to hurry up and asks, ‘Are you fellas finished playing with yourselves yet?’ 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drink alcohol throughout the movie.
  • People bring large cases of alcohol into a party, and many people drink as they talk and dance.
  • One of Turei’s friends drinks a bottle of beer while riding his bike home from the bar.
  • Many characters smoke cigarettes, both while driving and during social gatherings. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This is some limited sexual activity in this movie. For example, Turei’s parents kiss briefly one morning while sitting at the end of the bed, before they head off to work. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Mt Zion is about a young man struggling to balance his family and cultural obligations with the desire to follow his dreams.

It shows how it’s important to be true to yourself and the things that you want, but it’s also realistic about how challenging it is when values are in conflict within a family. Additionally, it shows the mistakes that good people can make when they’re misguided or in difficult situations, as well as the lengths they go to to gain forgiveness.

The movie’s themes make it more suitable for older children, with some possibilities for interesting discussions. There is little violence, but some coarse language that younger children might copy.