In simple terms the Bougainville story offered the chance to talk about a new kind of peace-keeping. When the New Zealand (and later Australian) Army peacekeepers went into that war zone, they left their weapons behind. Instead of rifles they brought “Haka and Guitars”. Culture instead of conflict. And it worked. Whereas most peacekeeping operations traditionally fail, this one has been an enduring success.
To tell that story (initially for a New Zealand audience) we chose to take one of the Kiwi peacekeepers back to Bougainville. Twenty years earlier Maori Fiona Cassidy had been a Major in the New Zealand Army. Her time in Bougainville (and the experiences of working with Bougainville combatants like Sam Kauona) changed her life – so much so that she left the military as soon as she finished her tour of duty. Her journey (both geographic and emotional) provides the spine of our story.
Hopefully the message has been left: peace happens, not at the end of a gun, but when the dynamics of conflict are turned upside down.