Since the late 1980s Bryan Bruce has been a prolific documentary maker and presenter. Over more than 30 documentaries, plus three seasons of The Investigator, he has cast fresh eyes on some of the most famous crimes in New Zealand’s history, and asked tough questions about the country’s economic and social trajectory.
...I think we can make analytical, thought-provoking programmes that encourage us to discuss the kind of society, the kind of place that we have here and whether this is New Zealand the way we want it. Bryan Bruce, in a 2007 interview
Presented by veteran newsreader Richard Long, this documentary looks at the history of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, focusing on some of the many and varied events which have happened on the bridge, such as AJ Hackett's first bungy jump off of it, the Dame Whina Cooper-led Maori land march of 1975, and the first plane to fly under the bridge. Interviewees include Joe Hawke, who was both a builder who worked on the bridge and a leader of the land march, and one of the Japanese makers of the 'Nippon Clippon' bridge extensions added in 1969.
This documentary tells the life story of entertainer Sir Howard Morrison. He discusses his Te Arawa whakapapa, whānau, and Anglican faith. Made by Bryan Bruce, it Includes footage of Morrison's investiture, a visit to his old school Te Aute, early performances by the Howard Morrison Quartet in Rotorua, and performances from throughout his career. Morrison is candid about his ego, his foray into film, and his marriage. An especially touching moment is a visit to an old Tūhoe friend (Morrison spent his early years in the Urewera) with a cloak made for his father.
The major contribution made by horses to New Zealand’s development is investigated in this Bryan Bruce documentary – from the first to arrive (a stallion brought by missionary Samuel Marsden in 1814) to equestrian gold medallists and sires of Melbourne Cup winners in more recent years. This excerpt features extensive archive footage of some of the 10,000 horses sent to Europe and the Middle East during World War I (with only four returning); and talks to one of the last milk vendors to use a horse and cart (only retired with very mixed feelings in 1984).
This 1995 documentary about New Zealand humour features classic TV comedy moments from Fred Dagg, Barry Crump, A Week of It, McPhail and Gadsby, Letter to Blanchy, Billy T James, Pete and Pio, the Topp Twins, Gliding On, Lynn of Tawa and Funny Business. Tom Scott, John Clarke, David McPhail and Jon Gadsby talk about the nature of New Zealand satire; Pio Terei, Peter Rowley, and Billy T James producer Tom Parkinson discuss the pros and cons of race-based humour; and the Topp Twins explain the art of sending people up rather than putting them down.
John O'Shea was godfather to generations of Kiwi filmmakers; he was an inspirational force committed to bringing new perspectives to the screen. As Ngati actor Wi Kuki Kaa put it, "had he been a Māori, he would have been a kaumatua years ago". This documentary backgrounds O'Shea and his pioneering indie production company Pacific Films, ranging from his efforts to put Māori on screen, to banned 60s ads. The cast provides proof positive of O'Shea's influence — amongst the ex-Pacific staff interviewed are the late Barry Barclay, Tony Williams and Gaylene Preston.