HDTV Heads-Up III: Stolen: The Baby Kahu Story

TV3 will screen in HD a two-hour dramatisation of the Baby Kahu case on July 28.

The network is billing Stolen: The Baby Kahu Story as a “New Zealand Television Event”, which may not be the exaggeration it sounds given the calibre of talent involved in dramatising the 2002 abduction of the eight-month-old daughter of a Maori High Court Judge, Justice Eddie Durie, and a prominent lawyer, Donna Hall.

The screenplay was written by South Pacific Pictures’ head of development, Tim Balme (Outrageous Fortune, the in-production Almighty Johnsons), the cast is headed by Miriama Smith, George Henare and Scott Wills, and the director is Britta Johnstone (Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls).

Stolen also is the first project made under NZ On Air’s Platinum Fund to reach our screens. It was shot in April/May but its genesis dates back years earlier to when Caterina de Nave headed drama and comedy for TV3.

She suggested the idea to South Pacific Pictures, where Outrageous Fortune co-creator James Griffin wrote a treatment that was put on hold after the family said it was too soon to dramatise the case.

“The events were still fairly fresh in their minds,” SPP chief executive John Barnett says. “Despite the fact that media (including us) often want to rush these stories into production, it’s often better to wait until things settle down.

“The truth is, a good story is a good story, today, tomorrow, this year or next, and in fact if it’s only considered good as a ‘news item’ then it’s unlikely to have longevity.”

When Balme took over Stolen, he focused on weaving together the police investigation, the parents’ ordeal and the kidnapper’s journey.

“The police were confronted with the question: how do you find a needle in a haystack? And they did it,” Balme says. “It reminds you how amazing our police are at what they do. This time a little baby was the needle in the haystack, and that child, for a certain period of time, could have been anywhere in the country. And then it became a case of anywhere in the North Island, and then it became a case of anywhere within certain limits.

“Those nine days in the public’s mind were another week that happened to be marred by a particularly interesting story in the news, but for the family it was torture. And that’s what makes the story important to tell, I think, is reminding the public that this family had to live through this.”

Miriama Smith as Donna Hall

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3 Responses to “HDTV Heads-Up III: Stolen: The Baby Kahu Story”

  1. Here is a write up from a Maori perspective: Stolen, twice. Unauthorised Docu-Drama set to air – please consider NOT watching!
    Pass it on, we need to help protect each other…

  2. Asked to comment on this report, South Pacific Pictures chief John Barnett said: “Unfortunately the article on the TangataWhenuwa website is inaccurate. It has taken some assumptions and turned them into assertions. Until the film is screened we wish to make no further comment.”

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