In the summer of 2007-2008 freelance photographer Jessie Casson and her family embarked on a road trip around New Zealand in a classic caravan (which threatened to fall apart along the way), to compile a book and accompanying documentary on some of our less-celebrated champions. Among them are gumboot throwers, an A&P show baker, naked Nelson cyclists, a shepherd, a singer, a family of champion woodchoppers, a Cromwell cherry spitter, Hokitika coal shovellers and lamb shearing record holder Emily Welch, who sheared 642 lambs in nine hours.
In 1968 eight Japanese teenagers won an art competition; their prize was a week long visit to the country they'd imagined on canvas. It's a busy itinerary — the students land in Wellington and take an obligatory cable car ride before visiting Parliament and the museum. The steamy wonderland of Rotorua is next, a dairy farm visit is a big success and Sir Edmund Hillary joins the teens for an authentic Kiwi barbeque. Shy smiles abound when one student meets her Kiwi pen pal for the first time. This is a rare example of a New Zealand television documentary from the 1960s.
This edition of the 60s magazine show is a portrait of Peter McIntyre. McIntyre was New Zealand’s official war artist, and his paintings became icons of the NZ war effort. This piece focuses on his later landscapes — then at the height of their popularity. Shots of McIntyre working in his studio and around Kākahi — where the “happy escapist” retreats from the hurly burly of Wellington — bolster the romantic image. He muses on ‘scenic decay’, trout fishing, the zen of the bush and pop art: “If they’re surrounded by cans of beans let them paint cans of beans!”.
With his impassioned enthusiasm and trademark beard, English naturalist David Bellamy made this well known 1989 community service message for the Department of Conservation. “It’s a nasty, horrible plant and it’s smothering and killing New Zealand’s native bush, and that is a catastrophe ... a trim is not enough — we’ve got to destroy it in every way we can — old man’s beard must go!”. Bellamy is a long-term advocate for the conservation of NZ’s natural heritage, presenting the Moa’s Ark series, as well as famously promoting Woolmark carpet.
This booster's gem was produced by the NFU to mark Canterbury's centennial. The original Canterbury crusaders' dream of a model England colony is shown in settler life re-enactments. The importance of meat and wheat to the region's prosperity is extolled and a progressive narrative — "in one brief century they've turned the wilderness into fertile farms and built their red-roofed homes" — underpins contemporary scenes (cricket, church) and much bucolic (plains, alps) scenery. Trivia: Peter Jackson used an excerpt from the film to open Heavenly Creatures.
This excerpt from a 1986 episode of NZ TV’s longest running show comes from the heady pre-crash mid-80s when NZ farming was getting off the sheep’s back and diversifying to stay profitable in changing times. Here Robert Hall is stocking the “hard hill country” of a farm near Taumaranui with goats. Rather than hunting goats as pests, the young industry — fuelled by “large amounts of city money” — is attempting to farm them for their cashmere wool. It offers new opportunities for women in farming, but teething problems include low yields from feral animals.
This promotional travelogue, made for the Christchurch City Council, shows off the city and its environs. Filmed at a time when New Zealand’s post-war economy was booming as it continued its role as a farmyard for the “Old Country”, it depicts Christchurch as a prosperous city, confident in its green and pleasant self-image as a “better Britain” (as James Belich coined NZ’s relationship to England), and architecturally dominated by its cathedrals, churches and schools. Many of these buildings were severely damaged or destroyed in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
Te Araroa is a 3000 kilometre, Aotearoa-long walkway. In this Māori Television series, host Pio Terei walks it, sampling “New Zealand experiences”. In this first episode, Terei treks his home turf: the trail’s northernmost stage, from Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga) to Kaitaia. Pio goes fishing in Ahipara; gets kitted up with a knife, and a kauri tokotoko (walking stick); gets stung by a manuka honey bee; meets the Tarara (NZ Dalmatian) people, and talks mission statements and hangi with members of the hīkoi that "changed the face of the nation" – the 1975 Māori Land March.
This high-rating 1999 documentary follows Gary McCormick to Ireland to investigate "those strands which tie" Kiwis to the Emerald Isle, from Dublin to the north, where his forebears originated in the 1870s. He meets locals, (musicians, tinkers, playwrights, scuba divers) and Kiwi expats, and talks The Troubles, Celtic Tigers, and why Irish emigrated to Aotearoa. Irish Connection was another collaboration between McCormick and director Bruce Morrison (Heartland, Raglan by the Sea). Companion title The London Connection saw McCormick examining Kiwi links to London.
Some of the great names of international rugby can be seen both playing and reminiscing in this hour long history of British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand. 1930 Lion Harry Bowcott is the oldest player here, conceding his side were surprised by the toughness of the New Zealand style of rugby; tough like 1950 All Black captain Ron Elvidge, who came back on to crash through a tackle and score a try, despite a fractured sternum and stitches in his head. The documentary concludes with Gavin Hastings’ 1993 Lions team. It was made as a preview for the 2005 tour.