The Colombo Plan was a Commonwealth “federation of neighbours” which aimed to counter communism in Asia by providing development aid in the area's poorer countries. This National Film Unit short, directed by future NFU manager David H Fowler, ranges across Asia as it surveys New Zealand’s contributions to the postwar plan: funding hospitals, agriculture and education in Indonesia, Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo, Pakistan and India. The film also visits Colombo students in their home countries, passing on skills that they learned while studying at NZ universities.
Made by Philip McDonald (Such a Stupid Way to Die) for the National Water and Soil Conservation Authority, this award-winning short explores the impact of people on New Zealand’s water cycle. Shots of irrigation, industrial waste and run-off from dairy farming show Godzone’s 1972 waterways to be far short of 100% pure — the closing national anthem played over polluted rivers underlines the point. A young Sam Neill (then working at the National Film Unit) cameos as an eau-so-suave drinker in a scene showing the disconnection between water use and where it comes from.
Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ's radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon's reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform. Revolution won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.
Manapōuri hydroelectric power station is New Zealand’s largest. This 1970 NFU film — made for the Electricity Department — follows workers clearing a path for power through epic Fiordland mountains and rainforest, building roads and power pylons, and stringing a cable along the “hard and dirty” 30 miles to the aluminium smelter at Bluff. Sixteen men were killed constructing ‘the line’ before power was first generated in 1969. At the same time the scheme generated mass protests (the ‘Save Manapōuri’ campaign) at the proposal to raise Lake Manapōuri's level.
“It’s not just a game. It’s a way of life”. This short film travels to the Central Otago town of Naseby: a rare bastion where the sport of curling is still practised on natural ice. But warmer winters may end the tradition. In their woollen 'tams' the southern ice men competing for NZ’s oldest sporting trophy provide a unique perspective on climate change. Made by Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi as part of Otago University’s science communication masters, the award-winning doco screened at Wildscreen and Banff film festivals.
Internet comedy sensations Jimi Jackson and Thomas Sainsbury have a close encounter with some aliens in this big screen sci-fi comedy. On learning that a UFO has crash-landed near his Waikato town, Riko (Jackson) ends up clashing with Peter the 'alientologist' (Sainsbury), whose thoughts on aliens are far from friendly. Alien Addiction is the first movie from director Shae Sterling, who has directed music videos for artists including Stan Walker, Scribe, Brooke Fraser and Maisey Rika.
Hosts Olly Coddington, Gabrielle Paringatai and Candice Davis front this TVNZ youth series from the era of Bebo and Obama. The series flavours youth TV fare (music videos, sport, online competitions) with reo and tikanga. This final episode from the show’s first year is set around a roof party on top of Auckland’s TVNZ HQ. Hip hop dance crews, Shortland Street stars and DJs are mixed with clips of the year’s 'best of' moments: field reports (from robot te reo to toilet advice and office Olympics) and special guests (from rapper Savage to actor Te Kohe Tuhaka playing Scrabble).
In this documentary, Tā moko artist and kapa haka teacher Sacha Utupoto Keating rode the Whanganui River on a journey to discover his whakapapa. Director Howard Taylor followed Sacha's personal story and the wider histories of the awa, weaving reconstructions, archival footage and lush river images into a rich story of people and place. "Taylor's investigation of the mythical, historical, ecological and spiritual aspects of the Whanganui River is deeply moving." said Grant Smithies in the The Sunday Star-Times."You're left entertained, enlightened and politicised."
This National Film Unit dramatised doco was boosterism for postwar immigration to New Zealand. Three Brits (Margaret, Cassie, Harry) travel and settle down under and the film records their hopes, jobs (nurse, factory worker, engineer), challenges (accents, 'casual' work ethic, locals wary of the ‘Poms’) and adventures in the new country (tramping, skiing, milk bars, the races, romance). Partaking in a glacier rescue raises Harry's spirits and assimilates him with the blokes. The film was released theatrically in the UK, and was scored by Douglas Lilburn.
Mai Time was an influential magazine show for Māori youth, screening for a decade on Saturday mornings on TV2. This episode looks at the place of ta moko (tattoo), interviewing Robert Ruha, a 27-year-old with a full-face moko. Mai Time crew visit Otara Music Arts Centre, a Matariki exhibition at Whaingaroa (Raglan), and then artist Lisa Reihana finds “more mean art by the sea”: Brett Graham and Rachel Rakena’s Aniwaniwa exhibition at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Aptly, the artwork explores the 1947 flooding of the village of Horahora for a hydroelectric scheme.