Long before Ghost Chips, even before "don't use your back like a crane", life in Godzone was fraught with hazards. This collection shows public safety awareness films spanning from the 50s to the 70s. If there's kitsch enjoyment to be had in the looking back (chimps on bikes?!) the lessons remain timeless. Remember: It's better to be safe than sorry.
Paul Holmes quizzes legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough in this April 1991 studio interview. Attenborough is downunder to promote his BBC series Trials of Life. Attenborough talks about the state of natural history TV making and changes in camera technology (musing that the old days were less efficient, but “more fun”), and responds to clips of killer whales surging on to a beach chasing sea lions, and chimpanzees teaming up to hunt. Holmes asks Sir David if he’s ever been “horrified” by nature, if animals are noble, and whether this is his last big series.
An elegiac profile of artist Eric Lee-Johnson, by Maurice Shadbolt, is the high point of this NFU magazine film. Johnson gave up a lucrative commercial career to pursue his vision of a New Zealand art moving beyond European tradition; and he is observed chronicling abandoned homesteads and churches, built in remote reaches of Northland's Hokianga harbour by early Pākehā settlers. There's light relief in coverage of a chimpanzees' tea party at Wellington Zoo, while a suitably breathless piece looks at a new industry manufacturing fibreglass boats.
This episode of the kids' TV institution celebrates te reo — one of Aotearoa's three official languages — for Māori Language Week. The July 2011 show opens at its Christchurch studio with a haka from Spreydon's kura kaupapa; from there the kōrero — and gunge — flows freely. Bursting with edifying energy it includes the show's trademark games, and The Wobblies, LOL and Family Health Diarrhoea. Australian Idol Stan Walker is the star guest and sings 'Loud' with Camilla the chimp, and NowTube visits an 80s What Now? (Steve Parr, Frank Flash et al). Tu meke tamariki!
In the anthropomorphic (and non-PC) tradition of the chimpanzee tea party and PG Tips ads comes this contribution from the National Film Unit. Here chimpanzees provide safe cycling lessons for children. Chaplin-esque scenes ensue as Charlie the Chimp disregards road-rules: "if that young monkey gets to school in one piece he'll be lucky ... he'll get killed sure as eggs". Directed by pioneering woman filmmaker Kathleen O'Brien — who got the idea after seeing them in a visiting variety act — the film contrasts vividly with the brutality of contemporary road safety promos.
Donna Malane, who runs company Lippy Pictures with writer Paula Boock, is an award-winning producer and screenwriter. She has written a wide variety of television including drama, fantasy, children’s drama, sketch comedy and documentary. Malane is also the author of a number of books, including acclaimed crime novel Surrender.
For 20 years Kathleen O'Brien was the only woman director at the government's National Film Unit. Her films were invited to festivals overseas. Known for her work involving children and education, O'Brien's directed comical road safety short Monkey Tale (1952), and the moving Story of Seven Hundred Polish Children (1966).
Gareth Reeves won a 2006 NZ Screen award for his second TV appearance — as a lonely baker in The Insiders Guide to Love. Since then Reeves has played a drug courier (in Aussie hit Underbelly), a cult member (The Cult), and has starred in films, as a reforming druggie (A Song of Good) and a crime writer (I'm Not Harry Jensen). In 2010 he acted alongside Temuera Morrison and Brit Ray Winstone, in period thriller Tracker.