Without the NZ Film Commission, the list of Kiwi features and short films would be far shorter. In celebration of the Commission turning 40, this collection gathers up movie clips, plus documentaries and news coverage of Kiwi films. Among the directors to have had a major leg up from the Commission are Geoff Murphy, Peter Jackson, Taika Waititi and Gaylene Preston. In the backgrounders, Preston remembers the days when the commission was up an old marble staircase, and producer John Barnett jumps 40 years and beyond, to an age when local stories were seen as fringe.
This collection gathers classic screen moments for the pavlova and pohutukawa season: from broadcasting icons (Goodnight Kiwi, Thingee), to barbies, bickering and beer. Families come together to eat and drink (Alison Holst, Peta Mathias, Graham Kerr), and fall apart (in full-length dramas from Niki Caro and Gregory King). Plus the Ghost Chips guy, and a Santa with tattoos.
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.
Every year around Christmas time, the Auckland Domain is lit up for a star-filled night of free Christmas celebrations. Hosted by Jay Laga’aia, this 2000 edition of the concert has “more than 300,000 people” gathered for an evening of songs, carols and fireworks. Kicking off with a Christmas rap from Anthony Ray Parker and kids, the celebrations go long into the night. Stepping up to the mic are everyone from Tina Cross, Frankie Stevens and Ainslie Allen, to the cast of Shortland Street and Mai Time. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display and the arrival of Santa Claus.
This documentary questions New Zealand’s involvement in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance. The examination of contemporary intelligence gathering takes in NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, entrepreneur-in-exile Kim Dotcom, and NZ Prime Minister John Key. It is framed around the 2008 sabotage of a Blenheim spy station by a priest, a teacher and a farmer: the 'Waihopai three' cut open a plastic dome protecting a satellite dish, in protest at the base’s role in the US-led 'War on Terror'. Directors Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones made 2011 terror raids documentary Operation 8.
This 1951 National Film Unit production looks at the Cook Islands, and marks the 50th anniversary of the islands’ annexation in 1901. Unusually long (half an hour) for an NFU film, it shows history ("Vikings of the Pacific" through Captain Cook to New Zealand administration) and island life: spear-fishing, catamaran sailing, breadfruit gathering, weaving, dancing and singing. The islands are depicted as paradise guided by NZ paternalism, with the Islanders grateful recipients of modern communication, technology, health services, education, and... tinned meat.
The largest gathering ever seen of Māori tribal war canoes (waka taua) was one of the centrepieces of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1990. This documentary, narrated by Tukuroirangi Morgan, followed the ambitious countrywide programme to build the ornately carved waka, and assemble them at Waitangi as a demonstration of Māori pride and unity. The 22 strong fleet, powered by 1000 paddlers, also fulfilled a dream of Tainui leader Princess Te Puea Herangi that had been curtailed 50 years earlier by World War II.
A profile of the Returned Services’ Association on its fiftieth anniversary, taken from 1960s current affairs show Compass. The RSA’s varied roles include welfare, watchdog, and keeper of the flame. The Taumaranui RSA bar makes a good return in a town that is officially dry; meanwhile in Wellington we watch two retired army officers describing an RSA fact-finding trip to South East Asia. The brief Anzac day footage includes a lively Dawn Parade gathering that packs Wellington railway station.
In the third episode of this drama based on the 1888-89 tour of Great Britain by the NZ Natives rugby team, the romance between Pony and Charlotte is gathering momentum. Charlotte’s grandfather — the Earl — might be alarmed by the tryst, but the Cambridge University rugby team has a far blunter way of expressing their displeasure with a Māori rugby player trying to cross class and racial lines. In the face of such opposition, Charlotte and Pony attempt to follow their hearts, but can they resist the pressures now being exerted by both of their cultures?
Directed by Sam Pillsbury, this 1974 film observes Ralph Hotere — one of New Zealand’s greatest artists — at a moment when excitement is gathering about his work. Lauded as a “classic” by Ian Wedde, the documentary is framed around the execution of a watershed piece: a large mural Hotere was commissioned to paint for Hamilton’s Founders Theatre. Interviews with friends and associates — poets Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire, art critics, officials and dealers — are intercut with fascinating shots of Hotere working (including making art by photocopying or 'xerography').