Making Utu

Television, 1982 (Excerpts)

For this documentary director Gaylene Preston goes behind the scenes during the making of Geoff Murphy's Utu — his ambitious 'puha western' set during the 1870s land wars. “It’s like football innit? You set up the event and cover it…” says Murphy, as he prepares to shoot a battle scene. In this excerpt, the film’s insistence on cultural respect is conveyed: Merata Mita discusses the beauty of ta moko as star Anzac Wallace is transformed into Te Wheke in the makeup chair, and Martyn Sanderson reflects on having his head remade to be blown off: “What’s the time Mr Wolf?”.

Series

The New Zealand Wars

Television, 1998

Five-part series The New Zealand Wars took a new look at the history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict. It was presented by historian James Belich, who with his arm-waving zeal proved a persuasive on-screen presence: "we don't need to look overseas for our Robin Hood, our Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, or Gandhi". The popular series reframed NZ history, and its stories of Hōne Heke, Governor Grey, Tītokowaru, Te Whiti, Von Tempsky and Te Kooti, easily affirmed Belich's conviction. The New Zealand Wars was judged Best Documentary at the 1998 Qantas Media Awards.

Don Selwyn

Actor, Director [Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri]

Don Selwyn, ONZM, was an actor, casting director and mentor to a host of talented Māori who went on to work in film and television. Selwyn’s long acting resume includes 1970s historical epic The Governor and police show Mortimer’s Patch. He also directed The Māori Merchant of Venice, the first feature film in te reo Māori.

Jonathan Dennis

Archivist, Producer, Radio Presenter

Described by author Emma Jean Kelly as a flamboyant "champion of New Zealand culture", Jonathan Dennis was the founding director of The Film Archive in 1981 and led the organisation into a bicultural era. Dennis, who headed the Film Archive for nine years, was praised for making films more accessible. He also made documentaries (Mouth Wide Open, Mana Waka) and presented Radio New Zealand's Film Show.

Michelle Scullion

Composer

Since studying flute then completing a Bachelor of Music in composition, Michelle Scullion has composed for television, film, radio and stage. Her score for Bad Taste, the debut feature from Peter Jackson, was a vital component in the film’s armoury. Her screen work includes Flying Fox and a Freedom Tree, sci-fi thriller Eternity, and many short films, including four directed by Grant Lahood.

Faifua Amiga

Actor

Faifua Amiga won acclaim with Kingpin - his first film role - at the age of 14. Four years later, he took centre stage in the Samoan feature film Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree.

Martyn Sanderson

Actor

From The Governor to The Lord of the Rings, Martyn Sanderson's distinctive voice and sideburns were part of New Zealand's screen landscape for three decades. His work ranged from the experimental to the mainstream, including directing feature films (Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree) and personal documentaries.