Wednesday April 24, 2013
Documentary Tells Untold Story of Teina Pora
Convicted twice of being party to a brutal rape and murder, Teina Pora has just begun his 21st year in prison. He continues to maintain he is innocent.
His story is the subject of a challenging new documentary to screen on Maori Television on Sunday, May 5 at 8.30pm.
THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T provides an exclusive overview of the case – from the reliability of Pora’s videotaped confessions, conducted over four days without a lawyer, to the last-ditch appeal to have his conviction set aside. We also find out about members of Pora’s family who allegedly tried to blame him for the crime.
Produced by award-winning filmmakers Catherine Fitzgerald (The Orator, Rain of the Children) and Michael Bennett (Matariki), THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T sheds light on who Teina Pora is and why he made the confessions that changed his life.
Producer and director Michael Bennett says he was drawn to Pora’s case because it addresses social issues concerning Maori in contemporary New Zealand society.
“Rarely as a filmmaker do you find a story that is gripping and intriguing, but is also one where your work might actually make a real difference,” he says.
“In Teina Pora's story, there is an opportunity to explore many pressing questions - are Maori more vulnerable to false convictions? If so, why? Do Maori have equal access to justice? What will it take to make change?
“As a filmmaker of Maori descent, I feel both a sense of privilege and of responsibility to be able to use my craft to portray the story of a young Maori man who I believe has been tragically failed by a flawed justice system.”
In THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T we hear from key people including Pora’s daughter Channelle, who was only two years old when her father was imprisoned, his brother Patrick, sister Lobelia and former school teacher Grant Hobbs.
No one interviewed in the documentary – from Pora’s lawyers, past and present, to victim Susan Burdett’s brother – is convinced that he committed the crime.
“The more I have learned about Pora’s story, the more questions it raises,” says co-producer Catherine Fitzgerald
“It highlights that a conviction impacts on the lives and futures of many more individuals than those directly involved.
“The bigger picture for me begs why do we not have a Criminal Cases Review Commission as operates in Scotland and England? Sir Thomas Thorp highlighted the need for such a Commission in New Zealand more than seven years ago.”
Pora was denied parole earlier this month because he was found with contraband in his cell this year.
THE CONFESSIONS OF PRISONER T premieres on Maori Television at 8.30pm on May 5.
Interviewees and featured personnel
Channelle Bennett is Teina’s daughter, now 22 and with a pre-schooler of her own.
Lobelia Pora is Teina’s younger sister.
Patrick Pora is Teina’s younger brother
Cecelia Pora is Teina’s cousin and exactly the same age.
Jim Burdett is the brother of Susan Burdett who was brutally raped and murdered in her home in 1992. Teina was convicted of being party to the crime. Subsequently serial rapist, Malcolm Rewa was convicted of the rape on the basis of the DNA evidence.
Grant Hobbs was Teina’s primary school teacher.
Jonathan Krebs is a leading New Zealand barrister who earlier in his career worked as a Crown Prosecutor. He has been Teina’s lawyer since 2009.
Tim McKinnel, formerly a Detective in the New Zealand Police, is now a self-employed investigator. He has been working on this case since 2009. Tim holds a Masters in Social Science (Criminology) degree, is an Associate of the International Academy of Investigative Psychology and is an Associate Member of New Zealand Law Society.
Gísli Guðjónsson, CBE is a Professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry of King's College London. He created the Guðjónsson suggestibility scale to measure how susceptible someone is to coercion during an interrogation.
Mark Herrick specialises in intelligence analysis
Anna Sandiford is a Senior Forensic Science Consultant with many years’ experience in New Zealand and overseas.
Marie Dyhrberg, Barrister, served in Teina’s Defence in both the 1994 and 200 trials
Greg Newbold is Professor of Sociology at Canterbury University specialises in criminology, criminal justice and social history.