WIll Watson

Soldiers Without Guns

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This feature-length documentary tells the fascinating story of how a war was ended by an army without guns, determined to unite people in peace.


The Bougainville Civil War erupted when Bougainvilleans rose up against the might of the Australia-owned Panguna copper mine, which had destroyed their environment, taken their land, and divided the people.

After 10 years of war, 14 failed peace agreements and 20,000 people dead, New Zealand stepped in with an unorthodox yet unprecedented style of peacekeeping. Taking guitars instead of guns, they were able to bring the warring parties together with music and cultural connection.

With hundreds of hours of interviews, and spectacular newsreel archive footage spanning over seventy years distilled into one movie, SOLDIERS WITHOUT GUNS is the inspirational story of a tiny island holding on to hope for independence and for peace, beset on all sides by corporate interests, colonial oppression, state violence, and civil war.


Director | Will Watson

Will Watson was born in Havelock North, New Zealand. A product of the 1960's love generation, he believes that there is always a better way to resolve things than violence, and his life's work is to prove that's true. Alongside his vision Will has gone on to win 7 awards in the past year, including 2017 Auckland International Film Festival BEST DOCUMENTARY - Haka and Guitars, and 2017 World Cinema Initiative (Cannes) WORLD PEACE FEATURE - Haka and Guitars. For more information check out https://www.tmipictures.co.nz/bio

Digital Project Manager/Producer | Matt Donaldson

Matt's passion for storytelling, language and education is a huge asset to the team at TMI Pictures. He has previously worked for TVNZ, Maori Television, TV3 and The Arts Channel in a number of production roles including writer, researcher, camera operator and video editor. He has also developed and facilitated workshops for the Ministry of Education.

Production/Accounts Manager | Kat O'Kane

Kat is an environmentalist and humanitarian and is a huge believer in our motto to "Touch, Move and Inspire". She is our go-to person for accounts, admin support and people management. After working and travelling around the world she has now settled in Auckland and has been a key part of TMI Pictures ever since.

Marketing Manager | Liam O'Kane

Liam is a mover and a shaker coming from a Visual FX background. He comes from Sydney, Australia and after receiving the Head of School for Screen and Media Award upon graduating, he moved into a production role with Cutting Edge, working on projects like Underworld: Blood Wars (2016), Swinging Safari (2018) and the most recent Winchester (2018). He is excited to come on board and branch out to TMI's upcoming films.


The shooting of Soldiers without Guns is complete, and we're ready to purchase high res archive footage, and polish the film in post. This is where is gets expensive! Your generous donations will help us to cover these costs, including the studio assistance of a professional colourist and sound team.

Thanks for your support and for being part of telling this inspiring story.



  • Soldiers Without Guns RNZ Interview


    On the 'Lately' Show, being interviewed by Karyn Hay about our upcoming film Soldiers Without Guns.


  • Guns from WW2 left on Bougainville archive


  • The Impact of War on Women


    SOLDIERS WITHOUT GUNS shines a light on the special role that women played in ending Bougainville's 10 year civil war. Alhough they suffered greatly, they worked together to help create peace. This story also highlights New Zealand's role in leading a successful peaceful conflict resolution, where peacekeepers with no weapons were deployed into hostile territory.


  • A Natural Island Paradise


    People lived in their own natural environment - Bougainville was beautiful.


  • The river became death


    The catalyst for the fighting was a huge Australian mining operation that destroyed the sacred land and broke the hearts of the locals. There had been 14 failed peace attempts before New Zealand sent in troops. Instead of taking guns to the war zone, the soldiers took guitars and cultural understanding to create a lasting peace.


  • Will meets with musician Arli


    Here's a little behind the scenes footage for you. Will Watson meets with musician Arli Liberman. Arli was sharing his expertise in soundscaping and music composition. Choosing the right music for scenes in a film is a key part of creating engagement.


  • Unarmed


    New Zealand led a peacekeeping mission into a war-zone in Bougainville and goes in unarmed.


  • The land is our heartbeat


    Hon Marcelline Kokiai - Central Bougainville Women's Representative, shares about her people's connection to their sacred land. The same land that was destroyed by the building of a massive copper mine. The mine was the prelude to the civil that followed. This scene is a raw clip from our rough cut, still in the post production phase. Sound mix and colour grade is yet to come.


  • Trailer release


    Hi friends.

    Recently we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of lasting peace for Bougainville - the 30 April 1998 was the signing of the peace accord. 

    The other big news is that I completed the trailer for "Soldiers Without Guns" - I hope you like it.

    All the best,
    Will Watson - Film Maker