Mana Bay: Coastal Garrison of the British Army

New Zealand: River QueenMana Bay: Coastal Garrison of the British Army

Location

Mana Bay features in the New Zealand period drama River Queen, filmed in 2004 by Kiwi director Vincent Ward. The bay lies at the mouth of the Patea river and around 1.5 kilometres southwest of the small coastal settlement of Patea.

During the New Zealand Wars (1845 to 1872) between the Maori and the New Zealand government, Patea became an important military garrison. On 15 January 1865, the British General Sir Duncan Alexander Cameron arrived with a small fleet and fortified the banks of the Patea river mouth. After the war was over, Patea turned into an important trading town and was once the third-largest cheese exporting hub in the world, until the port shut down in 1959.

Director Vincent Ward and his crew meticulously recreated a British garrison above the river mouth. This being one of the few locations close to civilisation, cast and crew must have been rather delighted with the prospect of not having to travel for hours on end to get to the set each day.

Key Scenes

The garrison is an important setting for the story. This is the place where a disillusioned Sarah O'Brien returns to from the wilderness after she has realised that her son must be lost to the Maori tribes forever. Here, she meets Maori warrior Riremu who seems to be working for the British army but in secret is spying for Maori chief Te Kai Po. He convinces Sarah that if she heals the wounded chief, he can take her to her long-lost son. 

The ships in the background were digitally created.

The ships in the background were digitally created.

Private Doyle takes Sarah to the commanding officer, Baine.

Private Doyle takes Sarah to the commanding officer, Baine.

The river mouth with its garrison can also be seen in an overflight shot that was created as a matte painting by LA-based design company HatchFX.

From minute 0:16, the footage below again shows the river mouth with its garrison before the camera pans towards the river sneaking its way through the primordial forest towards the horizon.

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