A medicine woman - a giver of life - is asked to hide a secret which may protect one life but which will destroy another.



(screenplay), (novel) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Whirimako Black ...
Rachel House ...
Nancy Brunning ...
Te Waimarie Kessell ...
Kohuorangi Ta Whara ...
Hospital Matron
Te Ahurei Rakuraku ...
Young Paraiti
Tahuri o te Rangi Trainor Tait ...
Paraiti's Grandfather
Rawiri Waiariki ...
Horiana's Grandchild
Te Whenua Te Kurapa ...
Tangiroa Tawhara ...
Woman With Bad Leg
Vanessa Paraki ...
Limping Girl


White Lies is a story about the nature of identity: those who deny it and those who strive to protect it. Paraiti (Whirimako Black) is a medicine woman. She is the healer and midwife of her rural, tribal people - she believes in life. But new laws are in force prohibiting unlicensed healers. On a rare trip to the city, she is approached by Maraea (Rachel House), the servant of a wealthy woman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), who seeks her knowledge and assistance in order to hide a secret which could destroy Rebecca's position in European settler society. If the secret is uncovered a life may be lost, but hiding it may also have fatal consequences. So Paraiti, Maraea and Rebecca become players in a head on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation. Written by South Pacific Pictures

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Redemption comes at a price.



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Release Date:

28 November 2013 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

The Medicine Woman  »

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Official submission of New Zealand to the Oscars 2014 best foreign language film category. See more »

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User Reviews

Nicely filmed but that's about it.
30 June 2013 | by See all my reviews

This film is based on a book by Witi Ihimaera called Medicine Woman. For some reason the title was changed to White Lies. Perhaps that was an attempt to inflame racial passions and get people interested enough to go and see it. I don't know, but I find the choice of title to be in highly questionable taste.

But apart from that the best I can say for this film is it looks nice, as NZ films and television invariably does. It's not hard to make a nice looking film in NZ considering our scenery, but unfortunately it is used to hide a multitude of sins, such as a weak story and poor acting among others. The story in White Lies is interesting enough in its own way, but everything else lets it down and even the cinematography can't save it.

The dialog sounded false and artificial and very few of the actors seemed at all professional. So much so that it was difficult to concentrate on the story, such was the poor quality of almost all of the actors involved. I am all for encouraging NZ film and television but that doesn't mean we MUST only use inexperienced locals surely?

I'm sorry to hurt the feelings of anyone involved in this film. I'm sure you did your best and gave it your all, and I certainly wanted to love this film after enduring the dismal Top of the Lake, but I'm afraid I found White Lies to be just another in a long string of low quality Kiwi films. Please don't take it personally.

Once again full marks for the cinematography and scenery, but low marks for all the rest. Better luck next time everyone.

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