The late Margaret Thomson is arguably the first New Zealand woman to have directed films. Thomson spent much of her film career working in England, plus two years back in New Zealand at the National Film Unit. Her NFU short Railway Worker (1948) is regarded as a classic.  

Love of research, looking at facts, collating stuff ... penetrating into complexities and then making them simple - I loved all that. Margaret Thomson, in Julie Benjamin's documentary Direction...Margaret Thomson

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 7 - Taonga TV

2010, Research - Television

This edition in Prime’s television history series surveys Māori programming. Director Tainui Stephens pairs societal change (urbanisation, protest, cultural resurgence) with an increasing Māori presence in front of and behind the camera. Interviews with broadcasters are intercut with Māori screen content. The episode charts an evolution from Māori as exotic extras, via pioneering documentaries, drama and current affairs, to being an intrinsic part of Aotearoa’s screen landscape, with te reo used on national news, and Māori telling their own stories on Māori Television.

Direction ... Margaret Thomson

1993, Subject - Television

War, Peace and Pictures

1989, Subject - Television

Talking about Epontol

1969, Director - Short Film

Tuberculosis: The Forgotten Disease

1969, Director - Short Film

A Sense of Belonging

1962, Director - Short Film

Child's Play (British feature film)

1954, Writer, Director - Film

The Kidnappers

1953, Children's Coach - Film

A Family Affair

1950, Director - Short Film

The First Two Years at School

1950, Director - Short Film

This 1950 documentary about early primary school education was made by pioneering female director Margaret Thomson, who rated it her favourite NZ work. The survey of contemporary educational theory examines the new order in 'infant schooling' (though some things never change, like tadpoles and tidy up time). It is broken into sections: ‘Play in the Infant School’, ‘Doing and Learning’, ‘Learning to Read’, ‘Number Work’ and ‘Living and Learning’. The National Film Unit doco was made for the Department of Education. Douglas Lilburn composed the score.

Efficient Machine Milking

1949, Director - Short Film

New Zealand's Exotic Forests

1949, Director - Short Film

Weekly Review No. 398 - Circus Roundabout

1949, Director - Short Film

Weekly Review No. 355 - Railway Worker

1948, Director - Short Film

This 1948 documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed for the National Film Unit by Margaret Thomson, arguably New Zealand’s first female film director. The film shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city. Selwyn Toogood (It's in the Bag) narrates.

Children Growing Up with Other People

1947, Director - Short Film

Children Learn by Experience

1947, Director - Short Film

Summer Work in the Garden

1941, Director - Short Film


1938, Editor - Short Film


1937, Director - Short Film