Syd Jackson: Life and Times of a Fully Fledged Activist

Television, 2003 (Full Length)

As Syd Jackson’s daughter Ramari puts it, there are some who sit on the couch and moan, and others who get up and take action. Winner of Best Māori Programme at the 2003 NZ TV Awards, this episode of Ngā Reo profiles the late fighter for Māori, women's and homosexual rights. The "warrior" intellectual helped put Treaty debate on the agenda, and led Māori activist group Ngā Tamatoa and the Clerical Workers Union. His nephew, broadcaster Willie Jackson, credits his uncle with rousing "the sleeping giant" of Māori activism in the 70s. Jackson would die in September 2007.

Children of the Revolution

Television, 2007 (Excerpts)

This documentary explores the 1970s/80s protest movement through six key activists and their children. Green MP Sue Bradford's daughter Katie protested with her mother at age six. Te Whenua Harawira, born during the 1978 Bastion Point occupation, led the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed hikoi. Also: Che Fu, son of Polynesian Panthers founder Tigilau Ness; Toi Iti, son of Tuhoe activist Tame Iti; and Joseph Minto, whose Dad John organised protests against the Springbok Tour. It won Best Māori Language Programme at the 2008 Qantas Film and TV Awards.

Mana Wahine

Television, 2006 (Excerpts)

Mana Wahine features five women leaders who have contributed to Māori social, political and economic development. They talk about the challenge and mantle of mana (power and influence) bestowed upon them. They are: Māori activist and lawyer Annette Sykes, community worker June Jackson (known by some as the "Queen of South Auckland"), chief negotiator for the Taranaki settlement Hekia Parata, kapa haka leader and performer Taini Morrison, and lawyer (and later district court judge) Denese Henare.

Tame Iti - The Man Behind the Moko

Television, 2005 (Full Length)

This documentary presents insight into the man most New Zealanders know as the Māori radical with a moko. Delving beyond the sensational headlines, it presents Tame Iti in the context of his whānau and beliefs. Iti tells his own story: from growing up in his beloved Urewera, and his role in organisation Ngā Tamatoa, to heroes (Rua Kenana, Che Guevara), moko, match-making and a late-starting art career. Iti’s children reflect on an activist father who “is a kid at heart”. Chelsea Winstanley's documentary screened on TV2, before Iti’s arrest during the infamous 2007 ‘Urewera raids’.

Dawn Raids

Television, 2005 (Full Length)

This documentary chronicles a shameful passage in New Zealand race relations: the controversial mid-70s raids on the homes and workplaces of alleged Pacific Island overstayers. Director Damon Fepulea’i examines its origins in Pacific Island immigration during full employment in the 1960s, when a blind eye was turned to visa restrictions. As times got tougher, that policy changed to include random street checks by police, despite official denials. Resistance by activists and media coverage helped end a policy which has had a long term effect on the Pacific Island community.

Futile Attraction

Film, 2005 (Full Length and Extras)

Satire Futile Attraction follows a dysfunctional reality television crew as they make a show about dating. The unfortunate 'couple' being manipulated for the cameras are a phone-obsessed nerd, and a woman consumed with being ecologically sound. In real life, director Mark Prebble became the first New Zealander to get funding for his movie via an online crowdfunding campaign (as detailed in the making of video). Alongside lead actors Danielle Mason (Black Sheep) and Peter Rutherford (Event 16), the late Alistair Browning shines as a smarmy television host. 

Patu!

Film, 1983 (Full Length)

Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the marchers and a large team of filmmakers, the feature-length documentary is a landmark in Aotearoa's film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were "a passionless people".

The Z-Nail Gang

Film, 2014 (Trailer)

Greenies meet The Castle in this 2014 film from first-time feature director Anton Steel. The Z-Nail Gang tells the story of locals joining to fight plans to dig an opencast goldmine in nearby bush — using nails in car tyres, Santa suits and a rap song, instead of monkey wrenches. The making of this down-home take on eco-activism was also a grassroots effort, with the film made by harnessing community support in the Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke. At the 2014 NZ Film Awards it was nominated for Best Self-Funded Film, and Best Supporting Actress (Vanessa Rare).

Try Revolution

Television, 2006 (Excerpts)

Some argue that if the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand had been halted from the outset, the impact on the hearts and minds of South Africans would not have been as profound. This Leanne Pooley-directed film aims to show how events in Aotearoa (captured in Merata Mita's documentary Patu!) played out in South Africa; how the tour protests energized blacks, shamed the regime, and provoked democratic change. Says Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "You really can't even compute its value, it said the world has not forgotten us, we are not alone."

Women in the House

Web, 2018 (Full Length)

This Vice documentary, made as part of its women's suffrage series, asks four past and present politicians — Golriz Ghahraman, Paula Bennett, Louisa Wall and former Prime Minister Helen Clark — about their experience of being a female MP in Aotearoa. It's a mixed picture. Clark celebrates the fact that issues facing half the population are now being addressed by a more equal Parliament, but Ghahraman, whose family fled Iran for New Zealand, regularly receives abusive communications. While each politician responds differently, they all share strong personal beliefs.