King Tide is a 114 minute comedy-drama that is an exploration of care and of community. It follows the middle-aged Reade as he returns to New Zealand from the Gold Coast to begin an unofficial investigation into ACC fraud in the Kaipara/Dargaville community. He has left the Gold Coast under a cloud. His relationship with girlfriend Sharon has also drastically soured. Worst of all, he must leave his adored step-daughter Summer as he starts a new life in Dargaville.
His undercover investigation is soon complicated by the possibilities of a new relationship with country school teacher Nadine. Adding to this complexity is the very make-up of the community he finds himself in. News spreads fast here. His cover is blown almost immediately when he follows up on a tip and seeks out the head-injured Clay, a possible recipient of illegal ACC funds. Clay, the local woodchopping hero whose injury has reduced him to a silent state, is also Nadine’s ex. The stumbling block of any investigation in the area is Roy, the enigmatic ACC co-ordinator and charismatic guardian of this town. Coalescing around him are a host of locals; hairdressers, carers, woodchoppers, fishermen and the local antique dealer Merle.
While the spine of the film centres on Reade’s enquiry and investigation into fraud and community connivance, his journey also becomes a prism through which other things are seen; there is the Kaipara environment itself, small town culture and also Reade’s own personal connection to the area (and this is mostly kept hidden). While Aoetoeroa / New Zealand has a reputation for its “cinema of unease” (Botes, 2008), King Tide represents an attempt to circumvent this by embracing weakness, disability and idiosyncracy as the ties that can bind and protect a community.
NOTE: The screenplay is embargoed until 20 August 2019.