Episode 36: The Silent One (1984)

Growing up isn’t easy for young deaf-mute Jonasi (Telo Malese). Misunderstood and mistrusted by many in his isolated Pacific Island community, he finds companionship with a rare white turtle he encounters while fishing. But the turtle’s presence will cause buried tensions to emerge within his small community as it struggles with a lengthy drought.

Adapted from a best-selling children’s novel by Joy Cowley, The Silent One is an ambitious  debut feature from director Yvonne Mackay. Hayden and L.J. dive in to discuss underwater photography, turtle wrangling, and how the film holds up today.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Director: Yvonne Mackay
Producer: Dave Gibson
Screenplay: Ian Mune based on a novel by Joy Cowley
Director of photography: Ian Paul
Underwater photography: Ron Taylor, Valerie Taylor
Editor: Jamie Selkirk
Music: Jenny McLeod

Telo Malese
Paui Te Po…George Henare
Luisa…Pat Evison
Tasiri…Anzac Wallace
Taruga…Rongo Tupatea Kahu


  • The DVD release of The Silent One appears to be out of print, but copies can still be found from some sources. As usual, NZ Videos is the place to go for more information.
  • For more information on Jenny McLeod and her score for The Silent One, the interview that L.J. mentions can be found here. A more general overview of her work is available at SOUNZ.

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