Tracker (film)

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Film poster
Directed by Ian Sharp
Written by Nicholas Van Pallandt
Starring Ray Winstone
Temuera Morrison
Distributed by Kaleidoscope Entertainment
Release date
  • 12 September 2010 (2010-09-12) (TIFF)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
New Zealand
Language English

Tracker is a 2011 British–New Zealand action-thriller film set in 1903 New Zealand, directed by Ian Sharp and starring Ray Winstone and Temuera Morrison.


Arjan van Diemen is a renowned Afrikaner commando leader of the Second Boer War, and a master tracker. After the end of the war, after the defeat by the British, he emigrates from South Africa to Auckland in the British colony of New Zealand, but is recognised by Sergeant-Major Saunders, a British soldier who also fought in the Second Boer War, and is arrested upon entry. However Major Carlysle, also a British Boer War veteran, and now the officer in charge of the British garrison in Auckland, respects van Diemen as a former opponent and releases him.

Meanwhile, Kereama, a Maori harpooner on a whaling ship, sleeps with a prostitute in an army stable. A drunk Sergeant-Major Saunders arrives with two of his comrades expresses his anger at the Maori coupling with "pure British women". He and his comrades then beat and taunt Kereama, who fights back; in the confusion Saunders accidentally kills one of his own men. Saunders evades responsibility by blaming Kereama. Kereama knows that he will not have a fair trial and runs. After Saunders convinces a sceptical Major Carlysle of Kereama's guilt, Carlysle with Bryce, a civilian tracker, and a posse of soldiers pursues Kereama. Carlysle knows that van Diemen is a master tracker and offers him a substantial reward to help them. Eventually van Diemen surprises and captures Kereama.

Kereama persistently protests his innocence of the murder of the soldier as van Diemen takes him back, and says he will not have a fair trial. However, notwithstanding their common traumas at the hands of the British, van Diemen refuses to release Kereama and they make their way back across the New Zealand landscape heading for the British garrison and the prisoner’s certain execution.

The filmmakers describe the story's background as follows:

The Second Boer War, a conflict between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics in South Africa, lasted from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902.

With the British in nominal control of the republics by 1901, the Boer farmers adopted guerrilla warfare tactics: strike fast and hard causing as much damage to the enemy as possible, and then withdraw and vanish before enemy reinforcements could arrive. This strategy proved effective and the British were forced to revise their own tactics.

The British retaliated with a “Scorched Earth” policy, bringing the Boers to their knees. As British troops swept the countryside, they systematically destroyed crops, burned homesteads and farms, poisoned wells and interned Boer women and children in concentration camps.

In the aftermath, many of the defeated Boers were unable to return to their farms at all; others attempted to do so but were forced to abandon farms as unworkable given the damage caused by farm burning and salting of the fields in the course of the scorched earth policy. Thus, many drifted to the far corners of the empire, in search of a new home...


The cast consists of British and New Zealand actors.[1]


Director: Ian Sharp Writer: Nicolas Van Pallandt[2] The film is a co-production of the UK Film Council and New Zealand Film Commission.

It was shot around the Queenstown lakes area of South Island.[3]


Tracker opened in the UK on 22 April 2011.[4] The film went to DVD in June 2011, distributed internationally by Kaleidoscope Entertainment.


Tracker made official selection for the Toronto and Valencia film festivals.


  1. ^ "Cast". Tracker. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Crew". Tracker. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Roxburgh, Tracey (21 November 2009). "Filming of 'epic' NZ story under way". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Cinemas". Tracker. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 

External links[edit]