Loading Docs 2017 - Ajax the Kea Conservation Dog

Web, 2017 (Full Length)

This short Loading Docs documentary from 2017 follows conservationist Corey Mosen as he heads into the forest with a special canine — his border collie cross Ajax. The pair play a vital role in the mission to ensure the survival of the kea, the world’s only mountain parrot. Despite being one of the world’s most resourceful and intelligent birds, kea are under threat (eg from predation), with as few as 2000 left in the wild. Corey and Ajax locate kea nests in the steep alpine forest  and spread awareness of a bird that Mosen reckons is pretty "neat and special". 

Series

Children of the Dog Star

Television, 1984

After adapting the slimy transmogrifying Wilberforces of Maurice Gee novel Under the Mountain for the small screen, scriptwriter (and future sci-fi novelist) Ken Catran returned with his own tale of kids and extraterrestrial contact. The series follows holidaying teen Gretchen (Sarah Dunn) trying to unravel the mystery of a weathervane — a "daisy rod" which seems to have otherworldly powers — and curious objects found in a tapu swamp. Backing up this girl-power sci-fi adventure are Catherine Wilkin, Roy Billing and Utu star Zac Wallace.

This Film is a Dog

Short Film, 1996 (Full Length)

This black and white short film (with hardboiled voiceover) follows canine filmmaker Quinn Hud to the dog-eat-dog world of the Cannes Film Festival to sell his latest work. Director Jonathan Ogilvie honed his skills making music videos for Flying Nun bands; and he shot the Super 8 footage for this tale when his short Despondent Divorcee screened at Cannes 1995. Quinn Hud’s 18 second epic features as a film within a film — and the cavalcade of stars alone would warrant watching this witty Tropfest winner (also chosen for competition at Cannes and Telluride).

Series

Dog Squad

Television, 2010–ongoing

This popular reality series follows the lives of dogs and their handlers, who work for the Departments of Conservation and Corrections, plus the Police, Civil Aviation and Search and Rescue. The canine squads help protect Kiwi streets, prisons, borders and mountains. Made for TVNZ by Cream Media and then Greenstone TV, nine series had been made up until 2018. Dog Squad also screens in Australia on Channel 7 (under the title Dog Patrol). Dominion Post writer Jane Clifton praised the show's “doggy-adorableness factor” and the “sheer novelty of the situations encountered.”

Outdoor Dogs

Short Film, 1953 (Full Length)

This New Zealand Now edition looks at working dogs. A brief look at show dogs makes way for a Timaru sheep farmer conducting six border collies to round up a mob of ewes. Elsewhere pig dogs bail up a wild boar; rabbit hunters use spaniels to flush their prey; retrievers aid pheasant and duck shooters; and off goes the hare for the greyhound to chase. The attitude to imported species (seen as game rather than as environmental pests) dates the film to an acclimatisation society era, and the close relationship between man and dog provides enduring fascination.

The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil

Short Film, 1986 (Full Length)

Bob Stenhouse worked largely alone to visualise this luminously-animated ode to the "nation of drunkards" (as New Zealand was tagged in the House of Lords in 1838). A shepherd tricks a Mackenzie barman out of a bottle of ‘Hokonui Lightning', but too much pioneer spirit sees him haunted by the devil's daughter. In 1986 Frog was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short; later an animation festival in Annecy, France judged it one of the best animated films made that century. A short 'making of' clip at the end offers hints of the hard work behind the film's distinctive look. 

Dog’s Best Friend

Film, 2017 (Trailer)

For this feature-length documentary, Kiwi actor Eryn Wilson heads behind the camera to tell the tale of a dog rehabilitation centre. Former soldier Jacob Leezak runs a dog psychology centre in Australia rehabilitating aggressive, troubled or abandoned pooches. He uses a mixture of physical training (swimming, massage, treadmill running), and lots of cuddles and kisses. Leezak makes it clear that dogs aren't to blame for bad behaviour, claiming 90% of their problems are caused by humans. Dog's Best Friend was set to play at the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival.

Collection

Kiwi Ingenuity

Curated by NZ On Screen team

'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.

Collection

The Animation Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans. 

Collection

Cats and Dogs

Curated by NZ On Screen team

New Zealand has a fine tradition of Kiwi canines on screen. Felines, however, can be a little trickier to wrangle when the cameras roll. This collection celebrates our favourite screen cats and dogs – somewhat weighted toward the latter. From Spot to Dog, plus Rastus, Hairy Maclary, Scarface Claw, and much more. We can’t forget “Bugger", a canine that drives or classic series A Dog’s Show – man and his dog (plus sheep) proving a winning formula for Kiwi TV gold in the 1980s. So Sit! Watch. And enjoy a purrfect canine and feline mix...