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.
Using plenty of his own photographs to illustrate his story, Errol Schroder takes us back to the 50s, 60s and 70s to provide his memories of being a photographer with the New Zealand Air Force (Schroder also spent three years in the navy). His Air Force career saw him posted through the Pacific and South East Asia. In Vietnam, there are tales of nervous times on American bases, and a hair-raising patrol in an OV-10 Bronco aircraft. Even in retirement, action came Errol’s way — his home was wrecked in the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake.
Derek Morton is one of those happily unsung industry all-rounders who has tried a little of everything: from documentaries and children's TV to underground films, doing time as a cameraman, editor, writer, producer and director (from commercials and docos, to trucking drama Roche), as well as running his own production company.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Producer/director Neil Harraway helped set up the Natural History Unit for TVNZ, which later became company NHNZ. Harraway worked for them for the next three decades, making spectacular nature documentaries including Under the Ice, Emperors of Antarctica and Journeys across Latitude 45 South. These days Harraway runs his own wildlife tourism business in Dunedin.
Described by New Zealand Geographic as the "doyen of New Zealand diving", Wade Doak is an author, marine ecologist and conservationist. Along with Kelly Tarlton he was a pioneer of underwater exploration and filming in Aotearoa. Behind and in front of the camera, he has contributed to documentaries for Wild South and production company NHNZ, and showcased Aotearoa’s undersea world to wide audiences.
A cameraman with over 50 years experience, Michael O’Connor joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee straight from high school. O'Connor went on to shoot some of New Zealand's most iconic dramas, from Under the Mountain to 1980s cop show Mortimer's Patch. His documentary work includes popular series Heartland and Epitaph, and directing Dalvanius, about singer Dalvanius Prime.
After stints in the merchant navy and the British film industry, Steve Locker-Lampson began a new life in New Zealand in the 60s, heading the camera department at indie production house Pacific Films. The following decade he forged a reputation as one of the country's pioneer aerial cameramen, and worked behind the scenes on movies Solo and Smash Palace. Locker-Lampson passed away in October 2012.
The great outdoors and the arts are what most inspires sound recordist turned documentary director John Hagen. He learnt the ropes at Avalon television studios, before venturing out on his own as a director. Alongside arts shows like Frontseat and New Artland, Hagen has celebrated Kiwi architecture in The New Zealand Home and recreated hazardous pioneer journeys in popular series First Crossings.