A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937.  Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.   

It's not the time you put in – it's what you put into the time. A slogan for company SteeleTelefilm, from 1962

Expedition to the Poor Knights Islands

1972, Producer

The Shape of Glass

1968, Producer - Short Film

Five are Two

1967, Producer - Short Film

All About Ice Cream

1965, Director

Songs and Dances of Maoriland

1961, Director, Camera


1959, Director - Short Film

Flight to the Orient

1959, Producer, Director

Children of Aitutaki

1958, Director, Camera - Short Film

Leaves from a Dairy Diary

1956, Director, Camera - Short Film

The Onward March of Pine

1956, Director, Camera - Short Film

The Egg and You

1956, Director, Camera - Short Film

Cold Facts

1954, Director, Camera - Short Film

Tahiti on the Coral Route

1953, Director, Camera - Short Film

The Big Show

1953, Director, Camera - Short Film

Fijian Holiday

1951, Writer, Producer - Short Film


1950, Producer, Writer, Camera - Short Film

The March of Pine

1950, Producer - Short Film

Thrifty Nifty

1950, Producer, Camera - Short Film

Fighting Fish

1950, Producer - Short Film

Made for the New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau by independent company Neuline, this 1950 film promotes “New Zealand’s big-sea fighting fish” as an overseas tourist attraction. First stop is Mayor Island near Tauranga, then it’s off to the Bay of Islands to land mako shark and marlin. Neuline was one of a handful of independent production companies in postwar New Zealand; Neuline boss Robert Steele pioneered the commercial use of 16mm film here. Although the narration purports to be that of an overseas visitor, it is actually Selwyn Toogood, who narrated many of Steele’s films.


1949, Producer - Short Film

Projects for Power

1949, Producer, Special Effects - Short Film

Table Tennis Today

1949, Camera, Producer - Short Film

The Finest Walk in the World

1949, Producer, Director - Short Film

What Health Stamps Do

1949, Producer - Short Film

Wings Over New Zealand

1949, Producer - Short Film

Here is New Zealand

1948, Producer, Camera - Film

Trout Fishing in the Tongariro

1947, Producer, Camera - Short Film

Industrial Auckland

1947, Producer - Short Film

Curves and Contrasts: The Camera Art of Robert Steele

1946, Director, Camera - Film

The Brewery Behind To-Day's Great Drink - DB Breweries

1945, Producer - Short Film

This silent film from 1945 showcases the making of “to-day’s great drink” (beer!), at Dominion Breweries’ Waitemata Brewery in the Auckland suburb of Otahuhu. Post-war, beer consumption was about to boom, with DB set to meet the demand. The film extols automation throughout the production process (though humans are seen contributing to the craft). Beer was still being brewed on the Otahuhu site 70 years later. Made by pioneering commercial filmmaker Robert Steele, the 16mm silent film was likely made for screening at trade fairs or winter shows.


1935, Director, Actor - Short Film


1934, Director, Camera - Short Film


1931, Director, Actor - Short Film

The Wings of Romance

1930, Director, Writer, Actor - Short Film