Packed with creatures and landscapes that quite simply boggle the mind, the Nature Collection showcases New Zealand's impressive menagerie of nature and wildlife films. Many of the titles were made by powerhouse company NHNZ, which began around 1977 as the Natural History Unit, a small, southern outpost of state television. In this backgrounder, Peter Hayden — who had a hand in more than a few of these classic films — guides viewers through just what the Nature Collection has to offer.
Richard Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro — traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. This 2007 episode of the Māori Television arts show sits down with him as he narrates his collaboration with Brian Flintoff and the late Hirini Melbourne — “a magic coalition of separate skills” — and the journey they’ve undertaken to resurrect lost sounds. Inspired by museum objects, literature and song, the trio led the revival of the form in contemporary Aotearoa. Nunns says the pūoro would’ve functioned as “a cellphone to the divine” for tohunga (experts).
In this episode of her TV3 series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato creates a farm in her garden and uses songs, stories and animations to introduce a variety of animals. Chickens cluck, a mother pig and her three piglets bathe in mud, frogs catch flies with their tongues — and one of the chickens strays into the family of frogs and has to be returned home. Meanwhile, a baby bird hatches but can't immediately find its mother, the sock puppet family is seen in all of its extended glory and Suzy keeps proceedings moving with her ebullient friendliness.
Former Blam Blam Blam, Front Lawn and Mutton Birds member, Don McGlashan takes time out from making his first solo album to talk about songwriting in this episode from a series made for high school music students. McGlashan is passionate in exhorting his audience to write their own songs and make their own voices heard. Acoustic versions of his classic 'Dominion Road' (written about a neighbouring street) and another Mutton Birds number 'White Valiant' (based on a dream) underline his enthusiasm for writing about immediate surroundings, not faraway places.
This all star cover of Mutton Birds classic ‘Anchor Me’ was made to mark the 20th anniversary of the sinking of Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. After Hinewehi Mohi’s haunting introduction, singers including Anika Moa, Kirsten Morrell (Goldenhorse) Che Fu, and Milan Borich (Pluto) walk towards the camera across a washed out landscape. Nuclear blasts, pollution and Greenpeace vessels can all be seen, while doves pull rainbows across the screen.
This song from the mysterious duo Fatcat & Fishface is from the Birdbrain album, praised by the Sunday Star Times as “the best children's record of 2009, and as witty as it is educational.” A collaboration with the Department of Conservation, the song gets down with the manu (birds) to reimagine the inhabitants of the NZ native bush at night as personalities dancing in a nightclub — from prowling with ruru/morepork to jiving with kiwi (“getting down on the ground”) and a boogying DJ kākāpō (“boom, boom!”). Nightclub was animated by Stephen and Ruth Templer.
Moody, minimalistic and monochromatic, this animated clip matches the relentless forward motion of the song to images of a train moving across a landscape. Birds fly — as so do some of the lyrics — and the surroundings grow more Daliesque. Seed was one of three Dimmer videos directed by animator and sometime Dimmer drummer Gary Sullivan. Band founder Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits) complimented Sullivan's "straight on down the line" railway imagery for how ably it suited the song; it appeared on Dimmer's long-in-gestation debut album I Believe You Are a Star.
Don McGlashan has never been scared to use New Zealand place names in his songs, and never more so than here on the Mutton Birds’ classic debut. His imagined back story for a man he saw from a bus window one day — a resident of the fabled “half way house, half way down Dominion Road” — is a tale of loss and redemption set on one of Auckland’s busiest arterial routes. Fane Flaws directed the shots of the band, while the colour footage (showing glimpses of forgotten shops and a less multi-cultural streetscape than can be seen today) was shot by Leon Narbey.
The video for this classic Chills song works not for its earth-shattering concept, nor its production values or performances (which are largely nonchalant). It looks miserable, nihilistic even. But — through luck or good management — the video for this Chills classic works, clinging to the melancholy essence of the song like a shrunken homespun. Observant viewers will notice a single bird — not unlike the lonesome outcast portrayed by Martin Phillipps — flying back against the flow.
A group of leading NZ musicians (including Goldenhorse's Kirsten Morrell, Che Fu, Anika Moa, Pluto's Milan Borich, Adeaze, Hinewehi Mohi and Nesian Mystik's David Atai and Donald McNulty) combined to record a one off single to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour on July 10th 1985. They covered ‘Anchor Me’, a song written by Don McGlashan and recorded with his band The Mutton Birds on their Salty album in 1993 (with the cause and project supported by McGlashan).