Bernard Kearns presents a survey of NZ life in the 30s in this episode of the National Film Unit series The Years Back (“people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today”). The documentary includes a wealth of footage taken from NFU stock: the aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake, the Depression (as Kearns bluntly states, “there was a lot of misery in the 30s”), and runner Jack Lovelock’s gold medal triumph at the Berlin Olympics. There’s also editorial flair as King George VI’s lavish coronation ceremony is juxtaposed with the A&P show back home.
On 10 April 1968 the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine ran aground and sank at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Fifty-three people died as a result of the accident, 51 on the day. These news features include aerial footage of the ship after the storm, and NZBC reporters conducting dramatic interviews with survivors, police and the head of the Union Steam Ship Company. Coverage was only seen by mainlanders after a cameraman rushed to Kaikoura and filmed a TV set that could receive a signal from Wellington, then returned to Christchurch so the footage could be broadcast.
Bob Parker did 12 years as guardian of the big red book, presenting and writing This is Your Life. Other presenting roles include Young Farmer of the Year and This is New Zealand (made in NZ for American cable television). He also appeared as a "weird dancing man" in the feature film Snakeskin. After doing time as mayor of Banks Peninsula in 2001, he began a six year stint as mayor of Christchurch in 2007.
Andrew Whiteside made his name as a reporter, director and producer on Queer Nation, one of the world's longest running queer television programmes. After nine years with the show, Whiteside went on to set up his own company, Roll Tape Productions.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
Richard Thomas has a passion for documentary. After directing for the BBC's legendary doco series Man Alive, he moved downunder and became head of Television One’s information programme department. Following a short spell as Director of Television at the ABC in Australia, he settled in New Zealand to make some compelling television documentaries — and inspire others to do the same.
This documentary about the sex industry in New Zealand features frank but sympathetic interviews with sex workers (including the Prostitutes Collective) and their clients. Topics discussed include the sex workers' reasons for doing the job, physical and sexual safety, the impact of AIDS, the role of drink and drug abuse, and managing a relationship with a husband or boyfriend. The film screened on TV3 after arguments about censorship, which Costa Botes writes about here. A Double Standard makes a compelling case for the industry to be decriminalised. Law change occurred in 2003.
Innocent Gert, who works in a rubbish dump, can't believe his luck when he's ordered by his boss to take his beautiful mute daughter, Princess Plum, to meet her prospective husband. The two set off on a mythical quest through a fairytale Far North landscape. On the way they encounter freaks and monsters, and experience danger and romance. In an unusual reversal, the voices and music for Woodenhead were all recorded before filming. This surreal second feature from Elam art school grad Florian Habicht took Aotearoa to the arthouse with unprecedented weirdness and wonder.
Robyn Scott-Vincent, MNZOM, is longtime producer of Attitude, the globetrotting series that focuses on people living with a disability. Scott-Vincent has an extensive background as a journalist. Since 1992 she has headed her own production company, Attitude Pictures.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.