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Illustrious Energy

1h 30m Drama 1988

This largely unseen little gem gives a brilliant and honest view of the racism faced by Chinese immigrants who came to New Zealand in the 1890s to mine for gold.

In a remote valley, two miners are desperate to improve their lot in life. Change is imminent with surveyors scouting the area. Kim wants to return to China, and his son-in-law, Chan is restless and impatient with their ongoing failure to find the gold they seek. When they do strike gold on their claim, it looks like their troubles will soon be over. But for Chan, this is just the beginning of his journey.

Aroview: Cinematographer Leon Narbey’s debut as a director reveals one of New Zealand’s ‘hidden societies’, that of Chinese gold-miners in 19th century Central Otago. Anchoring its tale with impeccable visuals and understated performances by Shaun Bao, Peter Hayden and Peter Chin, this remains a fresh, historically enlightening experience.


Leon Narbey




New Zealand

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