Loyal

Dave Dobbyn, Music Video, 1988

This is a cleverly-choreographed one shot video for the Kiwi classic written by Dobbyn when based in Sydney. (Even if it's debatable whether the moving house/moving on imagery actually suits the lyrics of the song.) Dobbyn's jersey and his video girl's entire get-up firmly date-stamp the romance and real estate story in the 80s, but the song has outlasted the knitwear: In 2001 APRA members voted it the third-best New Zealand song of the 20th Century. Loyal was later used by Team New Zealand as its campaign song for its 2002 defence of the America’s Cup.  

Gung Ho - Rewi Alley of China

Film, 1980 (Full Length)

Expat Kiwi Rewi Alley became one of the best known foreigners in 20th Century China and advocate for the Communist Revolution. When China was under siege from Japan in the late 1930s, Alley instigated an industrial co-op movement he termed  ‘gung ho' (work together). Its success led to the phrase entering the global idiom. For this documentary a Geoff Steven-led crew travelled 15,000km in China in 1979, filming Alley as he gave his account of an engrossing, complex life story. Co-writer Geoff Chapple later wrote a biography of Alley.

Kaleidoscope - Attitudes Towards Landscape

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

This short documentary series looked at New Zealand's landscape art from the arrival of Pākehā up until the 1980s. The four episodes moved from the development of a local version of the European tradition (through artists such as John Gully and Petrus van der Velden) through to the homegrown modernism emerging in the 20th Century: the distinct hard-edged styles of Binney, White and Smither, the spiritual abstracts of McCahon and Woollaston, to the later impact of Māori artists like Hotere, Whiting and Kahukiwa.

Down and Out on the Waitematā

Short Film, 1973 (Full Length)

This NFU film goes for a ride on the ferries of the Waitematā. Shots of mooring ropes and rusted chains precede a steamer chugging under the object that made many of its companions obsolete: the Auckland Harbour Bridge. By 1973 steam power had been superseded by petrol power. Archive footage and stills stoke nostalgia as old-timers reminisce about bygone days on the harbour; a time when ferries were the main mode of transport from downtown to the North Shore and beyond. The soundtrack is a compilation of early 20th Century dixieland standards. 

Night Sky - Sun Eclipse

Television, 1965 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of his long running series about the stars, astronomer Peter Read visits Matauri Bay on the East Coast to view preparations to monitor the only total solar eclipse visible in New Zealand in the 20th century. Read is shown a revolutionary camera that will be used to photograph the eclipse and he talks to an American expert about rockets that will be fired into the ionosphere to record it. Weather concerns are allayed and footage of the corona effect, when the moon is completely in front of the sun, is impressive even in black and white.

The Years Back - 9, The Unquiet Ocean (Episode Nine)

Television, 1973 (Full Length)

The Years Back was a documentary series that used archive footage and interviews to survey New Zealand’s 20th century history. This episode details events in the Pacific during World War II, from Japan’s 1941 attack of Pearl Harbour through to mid 1944. Japan’s aggressive thrust into South East Asia threatened New Zealand and Australia (“any day now it’ll be us”), and forced the countries into war close to home. Veterans and commanders recall sea battles, rallying of air defences and jungle warfare, from New Caledonia to New Guinea.The series was made by the National Film Unit. 

Motormania - Episode Two

Television, 1998 (Full Length Episode)

In this second part of a documentary on Kiwis and cars, host Rita Te Wiata explores motoring in the latter half of the 20th Century. She begins in Christchurch where Ford V8s were a vehicle for post-war romance, then heads to Tahuna for beach racing. Te Wiata pockets the licence she supposedly got in part one and heads to Raglan to look at the car-enabled freedom of the 60s and 70s: surfing, fishing, caravans. While downsides are mentioned (motorways, pollution, accidents), mostly it’s a paean to petrolhead passion. The tour ends with a cruise up Queen St in a muscle car.

Logger Rhythms

Short Film, 1984 (Full Length)

In the 20th Century forests of fast-growing exotic pines were established in the North Island, making one of the world’s largest timber plantations. This short explores timber work in Kinleith and Kawerau: from planting to felling to finished product. Directed by NFU veteran Hugh Macdonald, Logger Rhythms is notable as the first Kiwi film to record sound using Dolby Stereo. Sound men Kit Rolling and Tony Johnson’s efforts capturing chainsaw and machine ambience, along with Steve Robinson’s score, compelled Dolby in London to use the film as a demonstration reel.

Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power - Part One

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

The first part of this controversial, no-holds-barred portrait of Robert Muldoon — the dominant figure of 20th century NZ politics — traces his rise to power. In one of the show’s most contentious themes, Neil Roberts and Louise Callan explore the effect that the death of Muldoon's father from syphilis may have had on his political career. Interviews with colleagues and family members cover his childhood, war service, early years as a husband and father, his immersion in the National Party and the relentless, divisive style that saw him become Prime Minister in 1975.

The Years Back - 1, The Twentieth Century (Episode One)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

Made for television, this 13-part National Film Unit series aimed to showcase "people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today". The Bernard Kearns-presented series is mostly composed of footage taken from NFU stock. Fascinating early film clips are accompanied by interviews with elderly gents and ladies who reminisce about events as they unfold on the screen. This edition focuses on the opening decades of the 20th century; the nostalgia takes a dark turn when bow tie-wearing Kearns discusses World War I and provides alarming statistics of loss of life.