Shark in the Park was New Zealand’s first urban cop show. In this second season opener, Inspector Flynn (Jeffrey Thomas) and his team face restructuring and cutbacks from HQ, and a gang prospect (Toby Mills) is interrogated about a hit and run. Among the impressive cast of cops are Rima Te Wiata, Nathaniel Lees, and Russell Smith (It is I, Count Homogenized). This was the first episode made by Wellington company The Gibson Group, as Kiwi television entered an era of deregulation (Shark's previous series was one of the last made by TVNZ’s in-house drama department).
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.
In Māori mythology Maui fished up the North Island from the sea; here the fisherman plunging into the depths is a giant drill ship, Discoverer II. By the 1960s technological changes had made it possible to prospect for oil in shallow offshore waters. This NFU film documents the months-long process of exploring for oil and gas, and the discovery of the underwater dome off the Taranaki coast that came to be known as the Maui gas field — one of the largest in the world in 1969. The field was subsequently exploited and was mostly depleted by the early 2000s.
Once Were Warriors opened the eyes of cinemagoers around the globe to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life. Director Lee Tamahori's hard-hitting depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst an urban Māori whānau was adapted from the best-selling Alan Duff novel. The film provided career-defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen as Jake the Muss and Beth Heke. It remains NZ's most watched local release in terms of bums on seats. Among a trio of backgrounders, Riwia Brown writes about adapting Duff's book for the screen.
"The story of a four-day journey from Westland to Canterbury, across the Southern Alps." Narration from the four climbers accompanies spectacular alpine imagery in this classic NFU film. In crevasse country they rope up and climb to "half way across the frozen roof of New Zealand" and share a can of tinned pineapple as reward. At Malte Brun Hut they meet Sir Edmund Hillary, Murray Ellis and Harry Ayres, and they descend together down the Tasman Glacier. Ayres reflects on the Alps as training ground for famous polar and Everest expeditions.
When gold fever hit Central Otago in the late 19th century, hundreds of Chinese immigrants were among the hopeful prospectors. They were a quiet community scraping a living in harsh conditions, hoping to save money for families back home. This report for Contact follows the work of archaeologist Neville Ritchie, who in 1981 led one of Aotearoa's "biggest archaelogical operations" yet — an excavation of Cromwell's Chinatown, the makeshift village left to nature after the last miner died. It was part of wider research of the area, before new dams put some of the history underwater.
Bad Dates peeks into a fictional evening of speed dating; those evenings where singles meet prospective partners on fast rotation. This quick-paced short film turns the idea into tragicomedy, where, in the vital opening bouts of small talk, a series of prospective relationships go down in flames before they've even begun. Writer/director Grant Lahood democratically gives equal screen time amongst the ensemble cast (made up of graduating students from drama school Toi Whakaari) and to a range of idiosyncrasies, from the infantile to the sex-obsessed.
Kim Hill interviews euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin in 2003, when she was facing the charge of attempting to murder her terminally ill mother. The charge came about after Martin wrote the book To Die Like a Dog. Martin says the prospect of jail doesn't frighten her as much as living in a society where not everybody can access a gentle, dignified and humane death. The year after this interview screened, Martin was found guilty and served seven and a half months of a 15 month jail sentence.
This short 1979 National Film Unit documentary heads up the steep bush-clad West Coast valleys from Rūnanga, to profile the men at work at five private coal mines. Director Conon Fraser (Looking at New Zealand) showcases the remarkable DIY resourcefulness required by the small groups of miners. The rugged individuals work the seams, push bins along steep incline railways and dump the loads down vertiginously steep flumes. At the time this film was made waning prospects for the unique way of life were looking up, as high oil prices spurred demand for coal.
In an emotional Today Live interview from June 2001, Susan Wood talks to pioneering newsreader Angela D’Audney about her diagnosis with a brain tumour four weeks earlier, resulting surgery and the prospect of radiotherapy. D'Audney talks about the highs and lows of her considerable career, and attributes her success as much to tenacity as talent. Paul Holmes reminisces and offers support, there’s archive footage of her from AKTV-2 in 1968; and she is given the final word in what will be her last television appearance. Angela D’Audney died on 6 February 2002.