Readings from the poems of James K Baxter trace the poet's life through its various New Zealand locations, and provide a biographical voice in this film by Bruce Morrison (co-written with Dr Paul Millar). Baxter's family and friends discuss the man and his work, and the readings and beautifully shot landscapes fill in the gaps. The film won Best Documentary at the 1998 Film and TV Awards. The opening montage, describing "the chugging noise of masturbation from the bedrooms of the bourgeois" of Auckland, is seminal Baxter.
In this special Easter episode of TVNZ’s Sunday morning mainstay, original Praise Be host Graeme Thomson introduces hymns from some of the country’s oldest churches. Throughout the country church choirs deliver praise, while Thomson offers intermittent quotes from the bible to remind viewers of the true meaning of Easter. The special includes a hymn performed inside Christchurch’s iconic cathedral, before it was destroyed in the 2011 quakes. Praise Be first debuted in 1986, and has been on air ever since, apart from two years off the air in the mid 2000s.
The Whanganui River settlement of Jerusalem had a moment in the national spotlight when poet James K Baxter lived there in the early 70s — but it is home to a long established Māori community and the Catholic order of the Sisters of Compassion (since 1892). To make this documentary, Miriam Smith and Christopher Pryor spent a year in Jerusalem, following the lives and interactions of the nuns and the Ngāti Hau. North & South called their observations of a world of co-existing contrasts — Māori and Pākehā, young and old, secular and religious — “a cinematic treat”.
The often controversial beliefs of Sir Lloyd Geering, New Zealand’s best known theologian, are examined in this Top Shelf doco. In this excerpt, he visits Jerusalem to advance his view that the resurrection of Jesus should not be interpreted literally. Forty years earlier, this assertion divided the Presbyterian Church (where he was Principal of Knox College) and led to his heresy trial on charges of “doctrinal error and disturbing the peace of the church”. There is archive footage of an unrepentant Geering from the two-day trial which the NZBC televised live.
Starting in the questioning times of the late 60s, many New Zealanders began leaving town to set up their own communities, in search of alternative ways to live. This then and now documentary travels to communes long gone and still active, and tracks down many of those involved. Tim Shadbolt describes a time when people questioned "everything fearlessly ... without reserve and without restraint". The back to the land approach brought both satisfaction and fatigue. Dirty Bloody Hippies played to full houses at NZ's Documentary Edge Festival.
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.
Joan Daniel was excited to learn she was going overseas as a volunteer nurse in World War II — her mother less so. But it was the beginning of a three year adventure for Joan, as she recounts in this interview. First it took her to Egypt. The cases there were mainly related to ordinary illnesses, and there was time for sightseeing and fun too. Tragedy struck though, when three nurses were killed in a traffic accident. From the Middle East she was sent to Italy and a hospital close to Cassino. The patients now were casualties of war: the wounded, the shell-shocked and the dying.
Bruce Morrison's career as a producer, director and writer has brought some memorable New Zealand stories to the screen. He has been involved in a number of arts shows such as Kaleidoscope and Profiles, as well as poetry documentaries The Roaring 40's Tour and The Road to Jerusalem. Morrison directed the feature films Constance, Shaker Run and Queen City Rocker, and was a long-time director on Gary McCormick's iconic Heartland documentary series.
Inspired by the words of poet James K Baxter, ‘Let Time Be Still' was one of 12 songs recorded for 2000 tribute album Baxter. With help from studio whizz Joost Langeveld, Greg Johnson goes for a spare, percussive approach which puts the lyrics of Baxter's early love poem at front and centre. The video merges blue-washed images of Johnson in and around Jerusalem, with the long-haired, mokoed object of his affection. In 2010 the poem was given a more classical treatment by composer Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal.
Colin McKenzie joins Rudall Hayward and Ted Coubray as one of the earliest New Zealanders to make feature films on Kiwi soil. McKenzie was a technical innovator, responsible for a number of international filmmaking firsts. His unfinished epic Salome finally premiered in 1995, six decades after his death.