It's 1953. Bob Blair and 19-year-old Nerissa Love are deeply in love. Their love story alone is the stuff of movies but what makes Bob and Nerissa's story one of legends is that catastrophic events will cause their private love story to play out its final scene on an unlikely public stage.
While Bob goes off to play cricket for his country in South Africa, Nerissa makes a fateful decision to travel to Auckland to be with her friend for Christmas. While Bob smashes wickets in Johannesburg, the train Nerissa is on heads straight for a bridge that spans the Whangaehu River - a place better known as Tangiwai - "River of Tears".
When news of the train crash and Nerissa's death - along with 150 Xmas travellers - reaches the cricket team in South Africa, Bob is devastated. But what follows is an act of courage and defiance that stands as one of our most dramatic moments in sporting history. Bob Blair's actions on the cricket field - batting through tears to try and save his battered team - reflect the heroism being played out back home as the nation faces its worst ever disaster.
TANGIWAI explores a great tragedy through the eyes of two young people who embody all the hope of the post-war generation, a generation who were desperate to forge a new, independent path for themselves.