~ Winner of the Feature Award ~
Shot over four years, This Way of Life is an intimate portrait of Peter Karena and his family. Masterful in the saddle and Hollywood handsome, Peter lives by an internal code of values and honor largely lost in modern times. Though European, Peter was adopted into a Maori family and is Maori in all but skin. He is a horse-whisperer, philosopher, hunter, and builder, a husband and father. Despite seemingly overwhelming challenges, Peter refuses to compromise. In their early 30’s, Peter and Colleen have six kids and 50 horses. We follow them up into the rugged Ruahine ranges and down to their hidden beach camp. Against these isolated backdrops we explore family relationships, their connection to nature, their keen survival skills and their absolute intimacy with each other and their horses. Regardless of their hardships, the Karenas manage to never lose sight of the magic in the everyday. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the Karena children. Untamed and unafraid, the idea of risk is alien to them. To watch seven-year-old Aurora expertly ride a massive stallion bareback with no more than a rope halter asks us to reexamine our ideas of what children are capable of.