The Great Achievement

Short Film, 1958 (Full Length)

This half-hour film from 1958 documents New Zealanders in Antarctica: researching International Geophysical Year, and supporting the Trans-Antarctic Expedition by laying supply depots for Vivian Fuchs’ overland crossing. National Film Unit cameraman Derek Wright films Edmund Hillary's team, capturing the drama of their (in)famous dash to the South Pole as they roll precariously forward in converted Ferguson tractors — “the best crevasse detectors ever invented” as Hillary notes. Hillary's team got to the South Pole on 4 January 1958, 82 days after leaving Scott Base. 

Antarctic Crossing

Film, 1958 (Full Length)

Kiwi George Lowe directed this Oscar-nominated film of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1955-58), which made the first overland crossing of the continent via the South Pole. Lowe joined mission leader Sir Vivian Fuchs’ party coming from Shackleton Base, spotting hazards for the vehicles and dogs. NFU veteran Derek Wright filmed the Edmund Hillary-led NZ support crew coming from the other side of Antarctica, and helped drive the tractors. Worried about running out of food while waiting for Fuchs to reach the Pole, Hillary and his team headed to the Pole first, against his orders.

Tawhiti

Short Film, 2015 (Full Length)

Inspired by Māori oceanic prowess, Tawhiti follows five Māori astronauts who have returned to Earth after living on Mars for five years. The te reo short film follows the crew of NUKU as they visit their marae. NUKU captain Ruanui (Patara Berryman of Mai Time fame) wants to head back to Mars with his family, but his wife Rongo (Maraea Te Wara) is hōhā (annoyed) — "What kind of Māori are you? This is your home!". Director Tamati Ihaka made the sci-fi short film so Māori could "imagine themselves in a different way", and "reconnect with our explorer heritage."

Loading Docs 2017 - Luckie Strike

Web, 2017 (Full Length)

This Loading Doc short follows cavers Dave Ellacott and Mike Allen on their mission to connect Luckie Strike and Junior Mudball, two vastly different cave systems at Waitomo. Luckie Strike features extraordinary rock formations, waterfalls, and vast caverns. Junior Mudball is as its name suggests, mostly mud. The short sees them at work, galavanting through streams, abseiling down crevasses and scraping through mud — and reflecting on what they love about it. Luckie Strike was picked by National Geographic for its Short Film Showcase. A longer version is in the works.

Seven Years Not Wasted

The Mockers, Music Video, 1985

A polar explorer might seem an odd subject for one of NZ’s leading mid-80s bands to tackle – but, for all the make-up and rock'n'roll finery, Andrew Fagan was no ordinary pop star. This ode to Ernest Shackleton, from The Mockers' second album, was a pointer to Andrew Fagan the accomplished ocean going, solo yachtsman. Such subject matter would have sorely tested TVNZ's resources for making low budget clips. This compromise sees the band on a studio set dressed with suitably nautical looking nets, intercut with archival footage of a Shackleton expedition.

Ross Sea Appeal - Children Meet Hillary

Short Film, 1955 (Full Length)

In this November 1955 newsreel, Sir Edmund Hillary addresses 2000 Wellington school children, as part of a pitch to win support for an Antarctic expedition. Ed shakes hands with pint-sized fundraisers, and one of his crew models Kiwi-made cold weather gear. The voiceover mentions a "New Zealand Antarctic expedition", but Hillary's team would actually form half of a Commonwealth team, led by UK explorer Vivian Fuchs. After leaving supplies for the British crossing party, Hillary controversially went on ahead to the South Pole. Both BP and the NFU filmed the expedition.  

The Game of Our Lives - Home and Away

Television, 1996 (Full Length Episode)

This four-part series explores New Zealand social history through rugby, from the first rugby club in 1870 to the 1995 World Cup. In this episode commentators muse on the roots of rugby in a settler society, in "a man's country". Rugby's unique connection with Māori, from Tom Ellison and the Natives’ tour to a Te Aute College haka, is explored; as well as the national identity-defining 1905 Originals’ tour, and the relationship between footy and the battlefield. As the Finlay Macdonald-penned narration reflects: “Maybe it's just a game, but it's the game of our lives”.

Virginity

Television, 2001 (Full Length)

Actor, writer and director Fiona Samuel explores the loss of virginity in her first documentary. Seven women — aged from 19 to 89 — talk frankly about their 'first time' and how it affected their lives. For some, it was a rite of passage for better or worse, but for others there have been life changing consequences. Expressive recreations provide texture for stories that are compelling but never voyeuristic. In a rare example of a conjugal screen one-two, Murray Keane, Samuel’s husband, explored the same topic with seven men for a companion piece in 2002.

Emperors of Antarctica

Television, 1992 (Full Length)

This film tells the story of Antarctica’s emperor penguin (the inspiration behind Happy Feet) and how they survive vicious blizzards and -50°C temperatures. It also retraces the epic “worst journey in the world” which explorer Edward Wilson made to discover these remarkable birds. Max Quinn won a best director award at the 1994 NZ Television Awards for the Antarctic Trilogy Emperors was part of. The trilogy helped establish NHNZ’s relationship with Discovery Channel. As this backgrounder explains, the scene of a penguin falling through ice (clip one) became a YouTube hit.

An Afternoon on the Moon

Rhian Sheehan, Music Video, 2001

The song title is literally animated in this Ned Wenlock-directed promo for a track from Wellington electronica explorer Rhian Sheehan. Sheehan's lounge beats are set to a lunar day-trip plot, where a chilled-out Right Stuff ends in satellite-gazing reverie.