“It’s not just a game. It’s a way of life”. This short film travels to the Central Otago town of Naseby: a rare bastion where the sport of curling is still practised on natural ice. But warmer winters may end the tradition. In their woollen 'tams' the southern ice men competing for NZ’s oldest sporting trophy provide a unique perspective on climate change. Made by Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi as part of Otago University’s science communication masters, the award-winning doco screened at Wildscreen and Banff film festivals.
For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."
This collection shows the screen icons from the decade of Springboks, sax and the sharemarket crash. The world champ All Blacks' jersey was loose, socks were red and shoulders were padded. On screens big and small Kiwis were reflected ... mullets n'all: from Bruno and the yellow mini, to Billy T's yellow towel, Karyn Hay's vowels, Poi-E, Gloss, Dog and more dogs showing off.
"Space — big hills, snow-capped, blue skies ... that's the Maniototo, Central Otago." So says local poet Ross McMillan, describing the landscape that inspires much of his work. The Maniototo plain has also inspired writing from James K Baxter, Janet Frame, and Gary McCormick, the host of this full-length Heartland episode. McCormick finds a strong sense of community amidst the poetry of isolation: whether in the shearing shed, the sports field or the ice-skating rink. He also talks to local high-schoolers, some resigned to having to leave the area to find work.
A salient public safety segment in this edition of the National Film Unit’s long-running magazine series looks at 'prudence at home', and the ways that stoves, jugs and fires can be dangerous to children. Other segments include a visit to a Gisborne health camp where youngsters are finishing their seven week course of dietary and exercise lessons. And a jaunt to Canterbury’s frozen Lake Ida for skating, pies, and ice hockey concludes that ‘winter can be fun’. A car-drawn toboggan looks it — though the ice rescue demonstration will not convince all viewers.
Presented by Kenneth Cumberland, Landmarks looked at New Zealand history through the landscape — and at man "coming to terms" with it. In this episode Aotearoa's "last, lonely, remote" geography is framed as a stimulus for ingenuity. A narrative of "triumph over the elements" finds its flagbearer in the DIY story of jetboat inventor Bill Hamilton. Cumberland is donnish but game in pursuit of telling landmarks: exposing seashells alongside the Napier-Taupō highway (700 metres above sea level) like a downunder Darwin, or in a gas mask on an erupting White Island.
When TV began in New Zealand in 1960, posh English accents on screen were de rigueur. As veteran broadcaster Judy Callingham recalls in this sixth episode of Kiwi TV history: "every trace of a New Zealand vowel was knocked out of you." But as ties to Mother England weakened, Kiwis began to feel proud of their identity and culture. John Clarke invented farming comedy legend Fred Dagg, while Karyn Hay showed a Kiwi accent could be cool on Radio with Pictures. Sam Neill and director Geoff Murphy add their thoughts on the changing ways that Kiwis saw themselves.
NZ's first major female pop star, "Queen of the Mods", Dinah Lee is profiled in this NZBC special (one of the earliest surviving interviews with a Kiwi rock'n'roller). Her trademark pageboy-with-kiss-curls hairstyle is almost a character in its own right as she talks about the pressures of celebrity — while footage of her recording 'He Can't do the Bluebeat' reveals a singing voice that is almost a shock after the softly spoken interview. The last word goes to Lee's manager who recounts the "nightmare" repercussions of her TV appearance in Bermuda shorts.
With stints as an All Black, Springbok triallist, sports presenter, National MP, and sometime celebrity chef, Grahame Thorne has experienced his share of fame. But perhaps his hottest 15 minutes came after he dared to present the sports news one day in 1983 ... with a perm. The ensuing national trauma inspired headlines, irate phonecalls, and “curls are for girls” banners at rugby games. Sadly the perm’s freshest incarnation is lost to the archives, and this slightly grown-out version is the only extant evidence of a key moment in Kiwi fashion history.
Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life follows the adventures of Nia, a 10 year-old girl living in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai. “Nothing exciting ever happens here …” begins Nia, but the ordinary becomes extraordinary via the power of her imagination. In this third episode Nia (Shania Gilmour) and Hazel meet Lucas "curled up like a ball" on the beach after a turtle-related incident. They go looking for the escaped turtle, and encounter a crab. Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was New Zealand's first web series for children.