In this award-winning tourism promo, an easy-going narrator guides us through a land of contrasts — “where else would you find golf and geysers?”. The sights range from frozen to boiling lakes, characterful cities to odd natives (kiwi, takahē, carnivorous snails). Visual highlights include quirky road-signs (“beware of wind”, “slow workmen ahead”), toheroa digging and a flotilla of capsizing optimists. Directed by NFU veteran Ron Bowie, the film won an award at the 1963 Venice Film Festival, before headlining a special Amazing New Zealand season of shorts in NZ cinemas.
In late 1769 Captain James Cook first reached New Zealand, charged with charting the area. Peter Elliott chronicles Cook's journey in this award-winning four-part series. This first episode looks at his first encounters with local Māori, on the east coast of the North Island. While some greeted Cook with pōwhiri, others took exception to the murder and kidnapping the Europeans brought in spite of their declarations of peace. Amongst the locals Elliott meets on the coast is a young sailor in Tauranga who bears a striking resemblance to America’s Cup winning sailor Peter Burling.
In this intimate documentary painter Michael Smither lays bare his life — from a stern Catholic childhood in New Plymouth to the inspiration of Central Otago to his senior years in Otama Beach, collaborating on natural artworks. Smither is best known for his unflinching portraits of family life, works like 'Sarah with Baked Beans' which capture the untamed energy of small children. Smither acknowledges the hardship behind these famous paintings, and the toll it took on his first marriage. Ex-partners (including novelist Rachel McAlpine) open up about their time with Smither.
This fourth episode of Captain’s Log sees host Peter Elliott journeying around the bottom of the South Island, tracing the end of James Cook’s first journey around New Zealand. The precarious Otago Harbour is navigated in an oil tanker, before a much smaller boat takes Elliott around the bottom of Stewart Island to Fiordland, where his captain Lance Shaw describes major conservation efforts in the area. A trip up the treacherous West Coast in a concrete carrier is cause for nerves, then a sail aboard Spirit of New Zealand offers a chance to reflect on the journey.
This 1972 National Film Unit production promotes New Zealand’s national parks, from the oldest — Tongariro (established in 1887) — to Mt Aspiring (1964). Besides slatherings of scenic splendour, the film shows rangers clearing tracks, 70s après ski activity on Ruapehu, and school children at Rotoiti Youth Lodge: skylarking, river crossing, and cornflake eating en masse. When this film was made there were 10 National Parks (there are now 14). “In all their variety they’re the heritage of everyone who’s heard the call and felt the freedom of the unspoilt land.”
Producer/director Neil Harraway helped set up the Natural History Unit for TVNZ, which later became company NHNZ. Harraway worked for them for the next three decades, making spectacular nature documentaries including Under the Ice, Emperors of Antarctica and Journeys across Latitude 45 South. These days Harraway runs his own wildlife tourism business in Dunedin.
The Hum is about sailing legend Geoff Stagg, and his yacht Whispers. Directed by Tony Williams and written by Martyn Sanderson, the doco is a paean to the lure of sailing, focusing on Stagg’s colourful personality, and his veteran ocean-racing crew, as they take on the Wellington to Kapiti Island and down to the Sounds race. Fortunately for the film they deliver on reputation. Dolphins, Strait squalls, streaking, ciggies, and some fierce 70s moustaches are all in a weekend’s sailing. Stagg would go on to head renowned Farr Yacht Design (now Stagg Yachts).
This soulful invocation, sung in te reo, to Tangaroa — Māori god of the sea — comes from singer-songwriter Maisey Rika's third album. The instrumentation includes a string quartet and traditional taonga pūoro instruments played by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper. Director Shae Stirling’s music video has a vibrant clarity. It places Rika in the bush and the forest, in the surf and on the smouldering, volcanic landscape of Whakaari/White Island as she hails Tangaroa as commander of the tides while dolphins and whales provide further evidence of his life force.
This 2002 Touchdown series followed rangers working for the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries. The series covered work with threatened species — ranging from kākāpō, kiwi and native lizard recovery programmes, to Hector’s dolphin in marine reserves. Other episodes included management of Abel Tasman National Park, and mountain rescue work at Aoraki/Mount Cook. Ten 30 minute episodes screened on TV One. According to the Department of Conservation's annual report for 2002, the series attracted high ratings and received excellent reviews.
This episode of the turn of the century youth show trips out in the mud, at The Gathering dance party in Takaka. Havoc then talks to Manchester DJs at Piha, and interviews legendary comedian Robin Williams, who ranges from getting bitten by a dolphin to being scared by Paul Holmes. When this episode aired in January 2000, the hosts were at the peak of their infamy, having baited the BSA earlier in the series with a student stapling his genitals to a cross and setting it alight, and a woman on the street being asked whether she’d consider a sexual act for four dollars.