Sensitive to a Smile

Herbs, Music Video, 1987

Herbs visited the troubled East Coast town of Ruatoria in 1987, bringing music and aroha. They left with a documentary and this music video, which shows the band meeting and performing for the locals. Both The Power of Music and the music video were co-directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors ) — in one of his earliest turns as director —and cinematographer John Day (Room that Echoes). The ode to love and harmony was judged Best Music Video at the 1987 New Zealand Music Awards.

Azania

Herbs, Music Video, 1981

'Azania' is an impassioned anti-apartheid song written for the Auckland reggae band by law student Ross France. Led by original Herbs vocalist Toni Fonoti, it helped to establish the band’s political credentials at a time when New Zealand was split by the 1981 Springbok Tour. Azania was the name given to a post-revolutionary South Africa by the Pan African Congress. There are name checks for black African leaders Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela; and the chant “Angola! Mozambique! Zimbabwe! Azania!” was quickly incorporated into anti-tour protest marches.

Footrot Flats

Film, 1986 (Trailer)

In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.

The Power of Music (Te Kaha o Te Waiata)

Short Film, 1988 (Full Length)

Auckland band Herbs could have released their new album in the comfortable confines of an Auckland nightclub. Instead, they travelled to Ruatoria — a troubled and divided East Coast town where turmoil surrounding a Rastafarian sect had resulted in assaults, kidnappings and firebombed churches. Lee Tamahori and John Day's documentary captures an emotional experience for band and locals as they meet at Mangahanea Marae, in an attempt to shift the focus from disunity to harmony. This footage also yielded the award-winning Sensitive to a Smile music video.

This is Your Life - Peter Snell

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

In September 2000 New Zealand's greatest athlete was surprised with the 'Big Red Book'. Paul Holmes reunites Snell with figures in his life, from the Rome 800m silver and bronze medallists, to Opunake locals, and influential coach Arthur Lydiard. The tribute to his peerless career includes footage of Olympic triumphs and world records, and revelation of a performance enhancing drug: Fanta. Snell expresses pride in his academic achievement, where — despite a faltering start at Mt Albert Grammar — he is now director of the Human Performance Lab, University of Texas.   

Homegrown Profiles: Dave Dobbyn

Television, 2005 (Full Length)

This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles looks at the 30 year career of singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn, whose songs are mainstays of the Aotearoa soundscape. Dobbyn talks about nerve-wracking early days with th' Dudes, where the name for band DD Smash originated, and his long solo career. In a wide-ranging and thoughtful interview, Dobbyn discusses the highs and lows of a life in music, including the mayhem and causes of the 1984 Aotea Square riot, being told his best album was unreleasable, and the satisfaction of writing the Footrot Flats soundtrack.

All Things Being Equal - 22 September 1978 Episode

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

Written by future Gloss creator Rosemary McLeod, this Television One sitcom satirised late 70s gender politics. It was filmed before a studio audience at Avalon Studios. In this episode, Ginette McDonald’s lippy feminist withholds the joy of sex from her hippy hubbie, and Bruno Lawrence (sporting a magnificent anti-comb over) is the unreformed motorhead neighbour whose hangover cure is beer and cornflakes. Lawrence’s larrikin performance in the show was spotted by director Roger Donaldson, who cast Bruno in his breakout lead role in a movie: Al Shaw in Smash Palace

Radar's Patch - First Episode

Television, 2010 (Full Length Episode)

In this 2010 series, comedian Te Radar ditches his lawnmower to take on the challenge of transforming an overgrown quarter acre lawn into a lush garden bursting with produce. Using recycled material and organic methods, Te Radar has six months to hit his goals — including making a profit from selling his food. "You can almost smell the fertility in the air," he claims in this first episode, filmed in Riverhead north of Auckland. In true Te Radar style, comedy ensues. He forgets to build a gate for a fence, and heads to a neighbour's shed for help turning an old reel mower into a mulcher. 

The Gravy - Series One, Episode Four (Tigilau Ness)

Television, 2007 (Full Length Episode)

Hosted by Francis Kora, this episode of The Gravy is the story of musician and anti-apartheid activist Tigilau (Tigi) Ness, who during the 1970s joined the Polynesian Panthers movement in Auckland. Tigi Ness, the father of hip hop musician Che Fu, recalls his childhood in central Auckland and troubled times with the 1974 dawn raids and protests during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour for which he served nine months in prison. The episode also tells the story of his musical life in reggae bands such as Unity Pacific. Animated segment The Truth takes a look at lambs.

Patu!

Film, 1983 (Full Length)

Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the marchers and a large team of filmmakers, the feature-length documentary is a landmark in Aotearoa's film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were "a passionless people".