Presented by Kiwi TV pioneer Shirley Maddock, Islands of the Gulf was New Zealand’s first locally made documentary series. In this episode Maddock makes the 50 mile seaplane flight from Auckland to Great Barrier. Accompanied by ever present birdsong, she proves an eloquent, attentive guide to ‘The Barrier’. She recounts the SS Wairarapa tragedy and pigeon post, tramps to old kauri dams, and surveys the quirks of transport for the 240 people then living on the rugged bush-clad island, from the Land Rover-driving nurse, to a Chrysler taxi once owned by Al Capone.
This edition of the National Film Unit’s long-running monthly magazine series features a diverse line-up. The first report covers the opening ceremony of the meeting house at Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt, where Prime Minister Walter Nash and Sir Eruera Tirikatene receive the pōwhiri and haka. Then it’s a canter to Auckland’s 1960 Pony Club Championships; before flowing down south for the diversion of the Waitaki River in the Otago town of Otematata, as part of the Benmore hydroelectric scheme: a massive earth dam destined to be the “powerhouse of the South Island”.
The Adventure World TV series saw Sir Ed lead an A-Team of mates on a run of adventures. The concept was dreamt up by Bob Harvey, who enlisted Roger Donaldson to direct The Kaipo Wall and an (unproduced) Everest trip. Sir Ed and his climbing mate Mike Gill then went DIY and made two half hour films. This mission to climb The Needles — a rock stack off Great Barrier Island — was the first. Peter Mulgrew sails them over, Murray Jones goes parkour on the rocks and scales a kauri, Graeme Dingle surfs a dingy, and Sir Ed is the self-described “peppery co-ordinator”.
“It’s not just a game. It’s a way of life”. This short film travels to the Central Otago town of Naseby: a rare bastion where the sport of curling is still practised on natural ice. But warmer winters may end the tradition. In their woollen 'tams' the southern ice men competing for NZ’s oldest sporting trophy provide a unique perspective on climate change. Made by Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi as part of Otago University’s science communication masters, the award-winning doco screened at Wildscreen and Banff film festivals.
Hosts Olly Coddington, Gabrielle Paringatai and Candice Davis front this TVNZ youth series from the era of Bebo and Obama. The series flavours youth TV fare (music videos, sport, online competitions) with reo and tikanga. This final episode from the show’s first year is set around a roof party on top of Auckland’s TVNZ HQ. Hip hop dance crews, Shortland Street stars and DJs are mixed with clips of the year’s 'best of' moments: field reports (from robot te reo to toilet advice and office Olympics) and special guests (from rapper Savage to actor Te Kohe Tuhaka playing Scrabble).
Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ's radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon's reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform. Revolution won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.
Internet comedy sensations Jimi Jackson and Thomas Sainsbury have a close encounter with some aliens in this big screen sci-fi comedy. On learning that a UFO has crash-landed near his Waikato town, Riko (Jackson) ends up clashing with Peter the 'alientologist' (Sainsbury), whose thoughts on aliens are far from friendly. Alien Addiction is the first movie from director Shae Sterling, who has directed music videos for artists including Stan Walker, Scribe, Brooke Fraser and Maisey Rika.
Manapōuri hydroelectric power station is New Zealand’s largest. This 1970 NFU film — made for the Electricity Department — follows workers clearing a path for power through epic Fiordland mountains and rainforest, building roads and power pylons, and stringing a cable along the “hard and dirty” 30 miles to the aluminium smelter at Bluff. Sixteen men were killed constructing ‘the line’ before power was first generated in 1969. At the same time the scheme generated mass protests (the ‘Save Manapōuri’ campaign) at the proposal to raise Lake Manapōuri's level.
Mai Time was an influential magazine show for Māori youth, screening for a decade on Saturday mornings on TV2. This episode looks at the place of ta moko (tattoo), interviewing Robert Ruha, a 27-year-old with a full-face moko. Mai Time crew visit Otara Music Arts Centre, a Matariki exhibition at Whaingaroa (Raglan), and then artist Lisa Reihana finds “more mean art by the sea”: Brett Graham and Rachel Rakena’s Aniwaniwa exhibition at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Aptly, the artwork explores the 1947 flooding of the village of Horahora for a hydroelectric scheme.
The Colombo Plan was a Commonwealth “federation of neighbours” which aimed to counter communism in Asia by providing development aid in the area's poorer countries. This National Film Unit short, directed by future NFU manager David H Fowler, ranges across Asia as it surveys New Zealand’s contributions to the postwar plan: funding hospitals, agriculture and education in Indonesia, Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo, Pakistan and India. The film also visits Colombo students in their home countries, passing on skills that they learned while studying at NZ universities.