Milked Documentary Exposes ‘Whitewash of New Zealand’s Dairy Fairytale’

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The new feature documentary film Milked uncovers the disturbing reality of New Zealand’s dairy farming industry.

Premiering last October at the 2021 New Zealand International Film Festival, Milked dived into the truth about how the country’s multibillion-dollar dairy industry—a source of national pride for New Zealanders—is now the “nation’s biggest threat”. 

The documentary film follows the journey of activist Chris Huriwai as he exposes the “whitewash” of New Zealand’s multibillion-dollar dairy industry. From a land of no cows to becoming the national pride of New Zealand, the movie chronicles the industry’s rise and ongoing cover-up of its environmental, ethical, and health impact. 

Behind-the-scenes reality of New Zealand’s dairy fairytale

Co-producer and presenter Chris Huriwai embarks on an investigation across Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand, focusing on the destructive impact animal farming is having on the environment. But quite soon into the Milked team’s investigation into the reality of livestock farming in New Zealand, Huriwai realises that dairy, which New Zealand is the world’s largest exporter of, was the “story to tell”. 

“We originally planned to investigate the environmental and health impacts of all animal agriculture in Aotearoa but once we got further into researching, it was obvious that dairy was the story to tell,” shared director and producer Amy Taylor. “And with dairy giant Fonterra inviting Chris to meet with them and then backing out, we became even more curious about what was going on.”

In the film, Huriwai is joined by high-profile names in the environmental movement, conducting interviews with renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, as well as Suzy Amis Cameron, the former actress turned environmentalist married to Avatar filmmaker James Cameron. 

Keegan Kuhn, the co-director of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy, which first exposed to the global cinematic stage the link between animal meat production and climate change, also features in Milked. Both Suzy Cameron and Kuhn are executive producers for this film. 

Milked reveals the behind-the-scenes reality of the kiwi dairy farming fairy-tale,” reads the synopsis of the film. “It uncovers alarming information about the impacts of the industry on the environment and health, leading up to the discovery that we’re on the edge of the biggest global disruption of food and agriculture in history.”

‘The world is getting milked’ 

Speaking about the movie, Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron shared that Milked is poised to be a “powerful wake-up call that the world is getting milked”. 

Recent statistics published in the Meat Atlas 2021 report, the five biggest meat and dairy firms in the world—one of them being New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra—are together responsible for more emissions than oil majors like BP or ExxonMobil. Another dairy firm, Dairy Farmers of America, is another one of the top five firms ousted in the report. 

“I already knew a lot about the dairy industry and its trajectory before working on this project, but Milked helped bring all the pieces together,” said Huriwai, who added that the film isn’t just about showcasing the horrors of dairy farming, but rather, also about the solutions. 

“This experience emphasised the urgency of these issues, but in a way that also provides a pathway for change,” explained Huriwai, advocating the huge impact that individuals can make through plant-based dietary changes.

The release of Milked comes as several other films connecting the impact of animal foods on the environment and health are also being debuted, including the updated version of Meat the Future, which details the promise of cultivated protein solutions and is being voiced over by Dr. Jane Gooddall, and Eating Our Way To Extinction, a Kate Winslet-narrated film about the true cost of food. 


All images courtesy of Milked.

dairy farmingenvironmental documentary