Seeking redemption from a dark past, lay preacher Thomas Munro (GUY PEARCE) is on board a trading vessel heading to the newly established town of Epworth, a British settlement at the far corner of the world – New Zealand.
When the ship anchors for repairs, Munro finds himself caught up in a battle between Māori tribes and witnesses the slaughter of innocents at the hands of chief Akatārawa (LAWRENCE MAKOARE). Munro manages to save the life of Rangimai (TIOREORE NGATAI-MELBOURNE) – the daughter of Maianui (ANTONIO TE MAIOHA), a rival chief whose land the people of Epworth lease in a delicate arrangement.
As Munro begins to experience the white townsfolk’s entrenched racism and paranoia towards the Māori, he finds himself increasingly ostracised within the community he is meant to serve. He soon realises he has been brought to this isolated British outpost merely to add the veneer of civilisation.
After one of Maianui’s men is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Munro and Rangimai must take a difficult journey into the prohibited lands ruled by Māori warlords, in the hope of repairing the injustice. However, Munro soon realises he is a pawn in a strategic play of power, and with bloody war between the two dominant tribes now inevitable, he must decide what role he will play and whether his faith is real, or of any value.