Auckland is known as the City of Sails and each Anniversary Day, the Waitemata Harbour hosts the world’s largest one-day regatta. The culture of yachting on the Hauraki Gulf gets full-blown homage in this 1968 National Film Unit film. The short documentary sets up sailing as a way to escape the bustle of the city, and follows the tacks and jibes of a race — “The hum of straining rigging, the sting of flying spray on the lips … the feeling that only a yachtie knows as his craft lifts and surges.” The narration is by Tim Eliott, who had recently helped found Wellington's Downstage Theatre.
In this documentary, writer and adopted Cantabrian Joe Bennett explores the north/south divide, where the dividing line is the Bombay Hills — Jafa being an acronym for a somewhat impolite term for Aucklanders. Bennett is in sparkling form, mischievously stirring the pot of regional prejudice as he travels the country, asking exactly what non-Aucklanders think about the inhabitants of the City of Sails. The deep south has never looked so hardy, cold or desolate; meanwhile the congested motorways of Auckland appear to be paved with lattes and cellphones.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
This impressionistic, late 1960s survey traces Auckland from volcanic origins to a population of half a million people. Produced by the National Film Unit, it finds a city of "design and disorder" growing steadily but secure in its own skin as its populace basks in the summer sun. A wry, at times bemused, Hugh Macdonald script and an often frenetic, jazzy soundtrack accompany time honoured Queen City images: beaches and yachting, parks and bustling city streets, and an unpredictable climate given to humidity and sudden downpours.
This vibrant NFU travelogue takes the pulse of NZ's capital after 125 years of Pākehā settlement and finds a "colourful, casual" city that has had to impose itself on the landscape to endure. Highlights include the 90 sec opening flyover, some off-the-wall music choices in the score and vox pops that are well shy of 'coolest little capital' chutzpah. The wind puts on a requisite show but so do the city's 32 miles of beaches, with a Riviera-esque Oriental Bay beaming on a good day. The mower on a rope trick looks dodgy to a more health and safety conscious age.
By the mid 1980s Auckland had shifted from city of sails, to city of cranes. In the lead-up to the 1987 sharemarket crash, it was in the grip of "an unprecedented building boom". This 1986 Kaleidoscope report looks at the demolition and development from an architectural angle, as malls and mirror glass transform the city. Interviewees include developer Seph Glew of the (ill-fated) Chase Corporation, and his architects. Architecture critic Mark Wigley rates the BNZ Tower an "insult", but says Auckland's "crude" new buildings have at least provoked debate about what the city needs.
Recut from material shot at least five years before, this National Film Unit short appears to have been driven by the Tourist and Publicity Department. Coming in for praise are New Zealand’s primary exports (farm products), road and railways, and social security. In the 50s long distance air links were opening NZ up to the world but international tourism was not a major industry, and NZ was focused firmly on agriculture. People are shown farming, “a little unsmiling” on city streets, and at play (fishing, sailing and skiing). Kids drink milk and Māori are assimilating.
This National Film Unit film visits Christchurch roughly four years before the main event, to promote the city’s readiness to host the Commonwealth Games. A comical potted history of New Zealand precedes a montage of young women cycling around Canterbury environs and a split screen catalogue of NZ tourist attractions, before getting into a survey of the venues. As the opening demonstrates, “there’s always a traditional welcome awaiting our friends!” In 1973 the NFU completed a second film called Christchurch 74, before covering the games themselves in the feature-length Games 74.
In this 2010 Tagata Pasifika story, reporter Adrian Stevanon follows efforts by a group of Pacific Island mariners to preserve the traditions and skills of the great Polynesian voyagers — as an armada of canoes from the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji and Aotearoa takes to the seas of Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). Stevanon has zero sailing hours when he joins the Pan-Pacific crew of Hine Moana in the Cook Islands, en route to Samoa. Unsure “if this city boy can handle the high seas”, he takes time to find his sea legs, but eventually gets on the foi (tiller) and into ‘vaka mode’.
“Only 40 hours by air from San Francisco and six from Sydney, Auckland New Zealand is on your doorstep.” In 1952, NZ tourism was also a long way from a core contributor to the national economy. A flying boat and passenger ship deposits visitors in the “Queen among cities” for this National Film Unit survey of Kiwi attractions. The potted tour takes in yachting, the beach, postwar housing shortage, school patrols, dam building and the War Memorial Museum, before getting out of town into dairy, racing and thermal wonderlands, where “you can meet some of our Māori people”.