Private Project

The Tank Farm

Stability, income, and a roof over our heads are all things we take for granted, but, not for all of us. 64 year old John has been living in his car for 12 years on Auckland’s pristine Waterfront, and knows full well the struggles that life can throw at you.
The Tank Farm is a tight knit community of people searching for freedom and answers in a world that rarely offers them. With dinners shared every night and songs enjoyed under the twinkling nights sky , this unconventional family has found more to be jealous of than you and I might ever know.
John was a truck driver, a builder, a painter and a cameraman who, because of illness had to give up everything he had. He decided to travel around the country in search of a new place to call home. Together with a bunch of fellow travellers he formed Auckland’s most well-known freedom camping site.
But there are some people that don’t see what John sees. The City Council have big plans for the prime real estate and John and his friends are most definitely not part of this plan.

  • Rodrigo Gomez-Bolbaran
  • Rodrigo Gomez-Bolbaran
  • John Nia
    Key Cast
  • Maggie Campbell-Hunt (Video Editor)
  • Aditya Pillai (Sound)
  • Taniora Williams (Camera)
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 3, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    500 NZD
  • Country of Origin:
    New Zealand
  • Country of Filming:
    New Zealand
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Doc Edge Film Festival
    New Zealand
    May 8, 2016
    World Premiere
  • Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne
    July 27, 2016
    Australian Premiere
  • Down Under Berlin Film Festival 2016
    September 18, 2016
    European Premiere
Director Biography - Rodrigo Gomez-Bolbaran

Rodrigo Gomez-Bolbaran was born in Chile 35 years ago. He grew up in a very artistic family, among musicians, dancers, photographers and actors, allowing him to develop his creative side since an early age. After obtaining a bachelor degree in Film and Television Direction/Production at the Chilean University of Arts, Sciences and Communication, he developed a career in the National Television of Chile for 7 years, starting as an assistant producer in the Sports department to later become a Television director, broadcasting local and International sports events such as the Guadalajara Panamerican Games 2011 and the London 2012 Olympic games. He recently finished a double major in the South Seas Film and Television School, studying a Diploma in Documentary Directing and a Diploma in Editing and Post Production, and is currently working as an On-Air Director at Sky Television Network.

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Director Statement

My first approach to the Tank Farm occurred when I was taking a look at the New Zealand Herald’s website. I’d found a story called “Homeless in Auckland: Life in a car”, by Simon Collins. It immediately caught my attention the idea of people having to live in their cars in a country like New Zealand.
I come from the south of South America. I was born in a small mining town in the middle of the Atacama Desert, on the North of Chile. Historically the life conditions for many people in the Latin American continent have been really hard. There are lots of people living in poverty and on the streets, but this is because they don’t have any other chances or very little help from institutions or governments. The same thing is happening here? Why these people decide to live this way? Do they have other options?
Most of the people who live in poverty in South America have been living into it their whole lives, without having a chance to escape from that. I want to know why people in New Zealand decided to live in their cars, and discover if it is a choice or a necessity. I also would like to get into this people’s lives and learn about their backstory, and find out how did they got there.
The Tank Farm is located in Auckland’s Water Front, right next to Silo Park. This area is used by many of this people to park their cars and van, calling themselves “Freedom campers”. This community is perfect to work as an example of the developing situation, since two group of people is staying in the Tank Farm, the permanent residents, some of them living there for more than 10 years, and the tourists that rent a van to travel around the country.
I want to get inside this community and find out this people’s reasons to live the way they do, but also their dreams and projects. In a first world nation like New Zealand, we this kind of situations are not as common as in others part of the world, it would be interesting to see what this people thinks about themselves and the image that the society have of them. They are considered as a bad example or a group that needs help? How is the local and national government taking care of this situation?. Apparently they are not welcomed in this area, as the city council has other plans for it.
The Kiwi culture is known worldwide to be a very welcoming and open society, but are they acting the same way with their own people and the tourists that don’t have enough money to rent a hotel room? This documentary is focus on people’s personal journeys and reasons to live in an unconventional way that is causing rejection into some sectors, even though they are not harming anyone. Let’s see what is more important, the people or the money.