Revolution - 4, The New Country

Television, 1996 (Full Length Episode)

Four-part series Revolution examined radical changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and 1990s. This final episode sums things up, after examining "the second wave" of neoliberal reform when National took power in 1990, shortly after Telecom was sold to American interests. Incoming finance minister Ruth "mother of all budgets" Richardson oversaw a reduction of welfare payments, a shake-up of the health system, and a curbing of union powers. Richardson: "in a human sense I understood that [community outrage], but that wasn't going to deflect me".

Beautiful New Zealand

Short Film, 1949 (Full Length)

This 1949 NFU film is a whistle-stop tour of Aotearoa that, per the title, takes in the full gamut of the scenic wonderland. Splendidly filmed in Kodachrome, there are lakes (Tutira, Manapouri, Te Anau, Wakatipu), caves (Waitomo), mountains (Cook/Aoraki, Egmont/Taranaki) and forests and farms aplenty, with the occasional city sojourn and an obligatory ferry shot. In the narration indefatigable nature is harnessed for man’s needs and appreciation. Of note is a sequence on gum-collector Nicholas Yakas, who shows impressive agility as he scales a giant kauri.  

Heart of the Stag

Film, 1984 (Excerpts)

Heart of the Stag showed that director Michael Firth could handle actors as well as skis (his first film, ski documentary Off the Edge, was Oscar-nominated). Bruno Lawrence stars as a man working for a King Country farmer (Terence Cooper), who romances the farmer's adult daughter (Mary Regan) and starts wondering about the strained family dynamic. A rare drama dealing with incest, Heart of the Stag was praised by The LA Times as "electrifyingly good".  The NZ Herald said it handled a delicate subject without compromise. Metro voted it the best Kiwi film of 1984.

Extraordinary Kiwis - Colin Meads

Television, 2007 (Full Length Episode)

Jim Greenhough profiles Colin 'Pinetree' Meads — NZ rugby’s Player of the Century — who represented his country in 133 matches from 1957 to 1971. He spends a day with the 71-year-old All Black legend on the King Country farm he has worked all his adult life. Meads drenches sheep and muses on rugby as it was, its modern incarnation, and the way new farming methods have changed the provincial game which was once the sport’s backbone. Photographer Peter Bush recalls his years of following and shooting Meads who, he says, has aged like a fine wine.

The Early Days

Short Film, 1971 (Full Length)

Made for the Post Office, this 1971 National Film Unit documentary offers a potted history of New Zealand, using postage stamps as the frame. Director David Sims ranges from Māori rock drawings, to Tasman and Cook. Once Pākehā settlers arrive, the film offers a narrative of progress (aside from two world wars) leading to nationhood and industry. Archive photographs, paintings, Edwardian-era scenes and reenactments add to the subjects illustrated on the stamps. The stamps include New Zealand’s first: a full-face portrait of Queen Victoria by Alfred Edward Chalon.

Country Calendar - Cashmere

Television, 1986 (Excerpts)

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. 

Looking at New Zealand - Peter McIntyre

Television, 1969 (Full Length Episode)

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!”.  

Close Up - Following the Leader (Jim Bolger)

Television, 1986 (Excerpts)

This report from 80s current affairs show Close Up introduces the New Zealand public to future Prime Minister Jim Bolger — shortly after the “lightning coup” that saw him unseating urban lawyer Jim McLay, to become leader of the National Party. The  focus is on Bolger’s rural roots as a father and farmer. There is also praise from political historian Barry Gustafson, and a mini journalistic joust with ex PM Robert Muldoon, over whether he supports the new party leader. In 1987 Labour was re-elected for another term; Bolger’s party swept to victory in 1990. 

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Film, 2009 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Part concept film, part biopic, part historical record and part comedy, Leanne Pooley’s documentary was made to mark the Topp Twins' 50th birthday. New Zealand's favourite comedic, country singing, dancing and yodeling lesbian twin sisters tell their personal story: from their 'coming out' to Jools' brush with breast cancer. The film features archive material, home movies and interviews with the Topps' alter egos. Alongside local box office success and dozens of international awards, Girls won the People’s Choice award for favourite documentary at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival.

Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards 1978

Television, 1978 (Full Length)

“As an Oscar is to actors, a Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Award was to aspiring New Zealand fashion designers.” The B&H Awards were the big fashion event of the year for three decades from 1964. This 1978 telecast is presented from Wellington’s Town Hall by John Hayden, and longtime B&H organiser Josephine Brody. The theme is ‘fantasy’, but the fabric du jour is wool — befitting an economy living off the sheep’s back — with design entries coming in from Kaitoke to Marton and a procession of homespuns and knitwear paraded before the visiting Parisian judge.