Colin is a hoot and will appeal to baby boomers and those who dream of living off the grid. He is hard core Kiwi, voicing his – numerous – opinions about all and everyone. His house is unfinished, yet he lives in paradise.
Director Brown has flirted with telling the story of his Rakino Island neighbour Colin McLaren for a dozen years. His story has always been intriguing – once part of the bustling art and café scene in downtown Auckland, he gave it all up to retreat to a remote island. Why? How has he survived there for 30 years in isolation? And what does he do all day?
The documentary seems to have become the defining art form of the Covid era, and this is the first film made in New Zealand since the pandemic began. Filming snuck in just before Covid-19, and the team did a few pick-ups and the edit during lockdown. The end result is a portrait of one man, philosophical and erudite, and one island, Rakino, isolated with its own small community in the Hauraki Gulf, off the grid, challenging, and stunningly beautiful.
Colin McLaren lives in a house that has been half-built for 30 years now, on the tiny island of Rakino, in the Hauraki Gulf. Rakino is home to about 20 full-time residents and maybe 80 dwellings, most of which are unoccupied, most of the time. There is no electricity, sewerage or commerce on the island. Any food you cannot grow or raise yourself must be brought in by boat. Toilets are long-drop, or composting. Power is either solar, or by generator. He came to Rakino as a young artist and photographer who wanted to escape the noise of Auckland. He grew olives with friends, established the legendary cafe Rakinos in the city and eventually fell into near reclusiveness.
NZ 2020, 78 min, rated PG (nudity)
Directed by Simon Mark Brown