You are here:


Film, 1981 (Drama, War)






0 MB


0 MB

Clips (2)

  1. A 10 minute excerpt from this feature film.

  2. The credits for this film.


This fictionalised account of pioneering 19th century photographers the Burton brothers is set partly in Dunedin during the closing stages of the New Zealand Wars. William and Alfred take contrasting approaches to representing their subjects — and are treated accordingly by the authorities, who are attempting to attract new settlers while brutally suppressing Māori. Produced by veteran John O'Shea (who co-wrote with playwright Robert Lord), the tale of art, commerce and colonisation was largely well received as a thoughtful essay at revisionist history. 

Credits (24)

 Michael  Black
 John O'Shea
 Russell Collins

Post a comment

I am:

Please keep your comments relevant to this title. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Comments (2)

 Sarah Jane tonkin

Sarah Jane tonkin


 Happy Chappy

Happy Chappy

Just wanted to say wow! This film has members of my family in it, including my grandmother Wiki Thompson who passed away before it was shown back in 1983. Its nice to see it is still remembered.

Produced by


You need to be logged in to add to your favourites.

Related Titles (10)

 Broken Barrier

Film, 1952 (Trailer)

Another John O'Shea film with bi-cultural themes

 The New Zealand Wars

Television, 1998 (Excerpts)

A series on the New Zealand Wars, presented by James Belich

 Ans Westra - Private Journeys / Public Signposts

Television, 2006 (Full Length)

A doco on another photographer whose photos of Māori found controversy


Film, 1983 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Another film set during the New Zealand Wars


Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Censorship during another war

 Hanlon - In Defence of Minnie Dean

Television, 1985 (Full Length Episode)

Another drama set in 19th century Otago

 Don't Let it Get You

Film, 1966 (Full Length)

Another John O’Shea production

 Old Money - Hudson, Sargood, Hallenstein, Hannah, Shacklock

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

More colonial Dunedin

 A Master of Light - The Life and Work of Brian Brake Photographer

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

A doco on photographer Brian Brake

 Gottfried Lindauer in New Zealand

Short Film, 1976 (Full Length)

A doco on 19th Century artist Gottfried Lindauer


The reassessment of history is never an easy task, especially a history as clouded with noble self-deception as the colonisation of New Zealand. All credit, then, to Pictures, for tackling the subject, and for bringing to its reassessment a remarkable clarity and a considerable complexity of perspective. 
Another photographer. By royal appointment, I see. Rather different from your brother. He came up north with me and took a lot of photos of Māoris in the mud. 
The theatricality builds up an excellent sense of European staginess — of just how unreal, in a way, British civilisation must have been, planted out here. The magnificent shot of Dunedin Railway Station is the same: on film it becomes the statement it originally was — of power, endurance, economic assertion. It spells out in words of granite: We Are Here to Stay. It is in this sense of carefully chosen images that Pictures succeeds. It manages to build up a coherent sense of a society, and uses the framework of photography to ask questions about early New Zealand. All credit then. 


1981 Moscow International Film Festival
Press Award for Humanism
Nominated for top award (Golden Prize) 

1982 Asian Film Festival
Best Music: Jan Preston
Best Editing: John Kiley