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."
He learnt kapa haka as a child. He learnt to smoulder on Shortland Street. He punched a country in the guts with Once Were Warriors. Temuera Morrison has starred in Māori westerns, adventure romps, and cannibal comedies. In the backgrounder to this special collection, NZ On Screen editor Ian Pryor traces Temuera Morrison's journey from haka to Hollywood.
The 1951 waterfront dispute, the occupation of Bastion Point, halting the 1981 Springbok tour, the campaign to become nuclear-free, the foreshore and seabed controversy…New Zealand has a long history of public protest. This collection pays homage to the Kiwi fighting spirit, and willingness to stand up for a cause. From in-depth documentaries, to profiles of some of our most recognised activists, it also includes a great line-up of New Zealand’s protest songs.
This compilation episode culls stories from nine new Memories of Service interviews. From Crete to Monte Cassino, the war in the Pacific to the Korean War, former servicemen and women tell their tales in fascinating detail. Divided into broad sections ('Enlisting', 'Battles', 'Occupation of Japan'), there are stories of training, narrow escapes, attack from the air, and sad goodbyes. Director David Blyth and Silverdale RSA museum curator Patricia Stroud’s series of interviews are a valuable archive of a period rapidly fading from memory.
Like many others who signed up at the beginning of World War II, Tom Beale was looking for excitement, travel and the glamour of the uniform. Where he ended up was Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. A Leading Aircraftman (a junior rank in the air force), Beale served alongside Americans and Australians as they fought to push the last remaining Japanese soldiers off the island. Daily Japanese bombing raids added to the discomfort of fighting in the tropics. Returning home, Beale found it difficult to settle and re-enlisted, ending up in Japan as part of the occupation force.
In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing development on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. 506 days later police and army arrived en masse to remove them. This documentary examines the rich and tragic history of Bastion Point/ Takaparawhau — including how questionable methods were used to gradually take the land from Māori, while basic amenities were withheld from those remaining. The documentary features extensive interviews with protest leader Joe Hawke, and footage from seminal documentary Bastion Point Day 507.
When his father dies, soldier Will Bastion (Temuera Morrison) returns home after 20 years. Tradition dictates he take on the mantle of tribal chief, but he's not interested. His brother Kahu (Lawrence Makoare) seizes the opportunity, but he's a drug-dealer with grand plans to get stolen land back. Worried about Kahu's provocative approach, Will must choose whether to face off against his brother. Melding horseback action and indigenous land rights, Crooked Earth marked the first NZ film for director Sam Pillsbury since 1987's Starlight Hotel. Variety called it "handsomely mounted and compelling".
This 1997 Inside New Zealand documentary looks at the evolution of modern Māori political activism, from young 70s rebels Ngā Tamatoa, to Te Kawariki's protest at Waitangi Day in 1995. Directed by Paora Maxwell, it is framed around interviews with key figures (Syd Jackson, Hone Harawira, Ken Mair, Mike Smith, Annette Sykes, Eva Rickard, Joe Hawke). The interviewees explore events, and the kaupapa behind their activism, from thoughts on sovereignty, and the Treaty of Waitangi, through to symbolism (tree felling, land marches) and being kaitiaki of the environment.
Conflicts over who has mana over the Whanganui river stretch back more than 160 years. Te Awa Tupua - Voices from the River explores connections between local iwi and the river, and how it can be protected for future generations. Working again with wife Janine Martin, psychologist/ director Paora Joseph (Tatarakihi - The Children of Parihaka) weaves together interviews, memorable images, and archive footage chronicling the 1995 occupation of Moutoa Gardens/ Pakaitore in central Whanganui. This feature-length documentary debuted at the 2014 NZ Film Festival.
This episode of the Māori Television series about Aotearoa artists follows Māori screen pioneer Merata Mita. Mita produced vital work anchored in culture and community. This extract concentrates on the occupation of Bastion Point. Mita and protest leader Joe Hawke talk of how 25 May 1978 shaped her concerns as a filmmaker: "It was life, it was a transformation". The documentary includes footage from Bastion Point: Day 507, Patu, Mita's feature Mauri and Utu, and sees her running a lab for indigenous filmmakers. The episode was the 17th screened in Kete Aronui's fifth season.