The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died in 2008 in Dunedin.
The keynote of Tūwhare’s writing is an uncommon emotional honesty. Each poem is alive from start to finish. The shock of warmth and discovery, as one reads these poems, happens again and again. James K. Baxter
A documentary glimpse into the life, art, and inimitable cheeky-as-a-kaka style of late Kiwi poet, Hone Tuwhare. In this Gaylene Preston-directed film, the man with "the big rubber face" (cheers Glenn Colquhoun) is observed at home, and travelling the country reading his work; polishing a new love poem; visiting old drinking haunts; reading to a hall full of entranced students; and expounding his distinctive views on everything from The Bible to Karl Marx's love life. He reads some of his best-known poems, including Rain and No Ordinary Sun.
Private Journeys / Public Signposts turns the camera on photographer Ans Westra. Dutch emigree Westra has captured iconic images of New Zealanders since the late 1950s, expressively observing Aotearoa societal changes, particularly Māori urban drift. This film explores her remarkable life and work, and includes commentary from family and friends, fellow photographers, and colleagues, as well as discussion of the Washday at the Pa controversy. Luit Bieringa, curator of Westra's retrospective photo exhibition, directed the film, his first.
Sam Hunt is NZ’s best known and most visible contemporary poet; and, in an archive excerpt in this feature length documentary, Ginette McDonald calls him “New Zealand’s most impersonated man”. Director Tim Rose, who has known Hunt since he was a boy, decided too little was known about him beyond his flamboyant, public persona. The result is this doco which Rose spent four years making — augmenting a wealth of archive material with interviews with Hunt, and those who know him best, and new footage of him reading his work and performing with David Kilgour.
A teenage boy (Lance Wharewaka) should be at school but he instead learns about the bush and old days from his ailing grand uncle (Bill Tawhai). His friendship prepares him with the necessary skills for life. Written by poet Hone Tuwhare, Eel was the debut directing drama for producer, TV3 newsreader and Wild South presenter Joanna Paul."He [Bill] brought a mana with him and has such irreplaceable Māori knowledge. I remember him discussing [...] how he used bobs to catch eels. He remembers using flax - you can't buy knowledge like that."
Poet Hone Tuwhare was born in the far north, near Kaikohe, but forced by poverty to leave as a child. "75 years after Hone Glenn Colquhoun (doctor, poet, Tuwhare fan) wrote a poem in the Listener inviting him back." Hone accepted the invitation and this documentary is a record of his March 2002 Hokianga homecoming, taking in song, readings and plenty of laughs and kai moana. Silver-haired Tuwhare is irresistible, crooning Sinatra, charming school children with bawdy jokes or channelling the fire of his most famous poem: "For this is no mere axe to blunt!"
In 2003 Toi Māori Aotearoa engaged Charlotte Yates to produce an album and stage performance celebrating the verse of poet Hone Tuwhare. Yates co-opted various musicians (e.g. Dallas Tamaira, Graham Brazier) to transform Tuwhare's poetry into lyrics using a range of music from rock to dub. This short film by Lala Rolls was commissioned for the album launch; the material was also used in the live show. We see Tuwhare at home at Kaka Point and reciting his poetry against the songs, along the way glimpsing his warmth, humour and literary verve.
A 1973 interview with a 51-year-old Hone Tuwhare at the Maori Writers' and Artists' Conference, at Te Kaha's Tukaki Marae. One of New Zealand’s best loved and lauded poets, Tuwhare speaks of the various influences on his writing - sex, religion, trade unionism and communism - to name a few. Poet Rowley Habib sits alongside Hone in the interview and contributes to the conversation occasionally. This documentary also features a poetry reading from The Globe Theatre, Dunedin.
Regular Māori programmes started on Television New Zealand in 1980 with Koha, a weekly, 30-min programme broadcast in English. It explored everything from social problems, tribal history, natural history, about weaponry, to the preparation of food, canoe history, carvings and their meanings, language and how it changed through time. It was a window into te ao Māori for Pākekā, and it provided a link to urban Māori estranged from their culture. It was the first regular Māori programme which was shown in prime time.