Sons for the Return Home (1979)

Sons for the Return Home (1979) Poster

A relationship develops between a Samoan and a New Zealander, but each finds the other's culture a hard adjustment. Friends and family are not supportive, particularly when she becomes pregnant, although he proposes marriage.


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4 July 2010 | wadechurton
| Primary colours are easy to see, but they're not human colours...
Transplanted Samoan 'Sione' meets cute Pakeha girl 'Sarah' while attending university in Wellington, whereupon they hit it off and complications ensue. According to the racial/cultural primary colours of 'Sons For The Return Home', Pakeha (fair-skinned native New Zealanders) are hypocritical violent drunks, Maori (brown-skinned native New Zealanders) are happy-go-lucky, lackadaisical drunks, while Samoans are the simple God-bothering peasantry of the Pacific. Leaving aside the inconvenient facts that A) in 1970s New Zealand, Pacific Islanders (Samoan, Tongan, Niuean etcetera) faced far more prejudice from Maori than Pakeha, due largely to their mass-immigration and 'taking our jobs', and B) many of the infamous 'dawn raids' (early morning police raids on houses suspected of harboring visa-abusing 'overstayers') most times actually turned up said criminals, it must be said that 'SFTRH' is simply not a good movie. The story and screenplay crucially hinge upon Uelese Petaia's acting skill to convey the complex character of Sione, which for the most part is lacking. He's painfully wooden for the most of the movie, and speaks in an unaccountably heavy Samoan accent, despite Sione supposedly moving to New Zealand at the age of four and presumably attending mainstream school from five (even less believable is that his parents still can't speak -nor understand- a word of English after being there for at least a decade). Elsewhere, the rich Pakeha girl's family are troubled and estranged whilst his Samoan family are a tight, snug and highly interdependent unit. Her Pakeha ex-boyfriend (and pretty much every other Pakeha in the movie) just happens to be a nasty, sarcastic racist, and so on. Okay, so the intention was to present some sort of essential divide between Samoan and Kiwi culture, but this is going above and beyond. Sione's battles with Samoan and Kiwi cultural norms and expectations would have made more sense had he only recently emigrated, but since he's been there for most of his life, there is little excuse for his subsequent torment. He's surprised and angered that his university co-ed beau Sarah isn't a virgin? Even after she has seduced him in order to foment a relationship? Add a confusing screenplay and two rather unlikeable leads (Uelese only really shines when dancing for the crowd at the boozy Maori party, and Fiona Lindsay is reasonably good but her character is not much more than a middle-class cipher) and you have a severely misfired effort, typical of our country's early cinema efforts.

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Plot Summary


Country of Origin

New Zealand

Filming Locations

London, England, UK

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