In June 1886 Mt Tarawera spectacularly erupted, and this documentary tells the story of the people who were caught in the catastrophic events. Around 120 people lost their lives, and the internationally famous Pink and White Terraces were destroyed. The documentary features an animated re-creation of the eruption, archival images, interviews with descendants of those involved, and readings from written eyewitness accounts. The author of the book Tarawera, Ron Keam, is also interviewed.
In September 1893 New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. This fly on the wall docudrama reimagines this major achievement, following Kate Sheppard (played by Sara Wiseman) throughout the final push of her campaign. The 70-minute TV movie follows the template set by director Peter Burger and writer Gavin Strawhan in their 2011 docudrama on the Treaty of Waitangi, with key characters directly addressing their 21st century audience. At the 2012 NZ TV awards, Wiseman won for Best Performance by an Actress.
Award-winning reality show One Land sees families living without power or running water, 1850s style. In this first episode, two Māori familes arrive by waka at their new home: a purpose-built marae with a garden, on a hill above the Firth of Thames. The larger family speak only te reo; the other identifies as European. Recreating the changes which transformed Aotearoa, a Pākehā family arrive, then head on foot towards their promised parcel of land. If they're to get through this "social and cultural experiment" without starving, they will need to trade with their neighbours.
The Stolen follows English migrant Charlotte Lockton (Alice Eve, from Star Trek: Into Darkness) as she sets out to track down her kidnapped baby in gold rush era 1860s New Zealand. En route she meets gamblers, hustlers, prostitutes and Māori warriors. Bringing the era to life are Scotsman Graham McTavish (The Hobbit), Brit James Davenport (as the romantic interest), Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O’Brien, Cohen Holloway and singer Stan Walker. Produced and originated by London-based Kiwi Emily Corcoran, the film was directed by Brit Niall Johnson (comedy Keeping Mum).
This acclaimed drama from 1975 adapts a Katherine Mansfield story about three travellers who encounter a strange woman and child, at a remote country store. Co-directed by Roger Donaldson and Ian Mune, it won Feltex Awards for Best Script (Mune and Peter Hansard) and Actress (Ilona Rodgers). Mune and Donaldson used the drama's success and innovative financing model as a 'proof of concept', to secure funding for their 1976 series Winners & Losers. The Woman at the Store debuted on Kiwi TV screens in March 1975; it was sold as part of the Winners series overseas.
This 2018 feature follows ex gang leader Logan (Josh Calles), who has ditched gang life to raise his daughter. When she is murdered by a rival gang, Logan is forced to choose between vengeance – and all-out gang warfare – or forgiveness. Also starring Dark Horse discovery Wayne Hapi, the Gisborne-shot drama marks the first feature directed by pastor Tarry Mortlock. It is a modern interpretation of a true story about a girl killed by a raiding party in the 1800s. Broken is presented by City Impact Church, although Mortlock says he "never set out to make a Christian movie for Christians".
The Footprints of the Dragon examines immigration from China and Taiwan, through interviews with three families: the Kwoks, already into their fifth generation down under; and two families from Taiwan, who are far more recent arrivals. One woman is forced to return frequently to Taiwan, to earn money for the family. The documentary also examines discrimination against early Chinese migrants in the late 1800s, who were required to pay a 100 pound poll tax. The episode is directed by Listener film critic Helene Wong, herself a third-generation Chinese-New Zealander.
When Malay-Chinese immigrant Bernadine Lim was a child, her teacher made her walk around the classroom so the kids could feel how different her head was. The reporter turned director returns to the screen for this 2007 documentary, to talk to other Kiwi Chinese — including musician Chong Nee and playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle — about their experiences growing up visually and culturally different. Lim also talks to historians about the racism Chinese men encountered when they flocked to Otago goldfields in the 1800s, including having to pay a poll tax.
Illustrious Energy sees Chan and his older mate Kim prospecting for gold in 1890s Otago. Marooned until they can pay off their debts and return to China; they’ve been fruitlessly working their claim for 12 and 27 years respectively. Chan faces racism, isolation, extreme weather, threatening surveyors, opium dens and a circus romance. The renowned feature-directing debut of cinematographer Leon Narbey provides a poetic evocation of the Chinese settler experience; especially vivid are Central’s natural details — desolate schist and tussock lands, rasping crickets.