Aotearoa is the last big land mass on earth discovered and settled by people (orthodox history suggests Māori arrived around 1280). Directed by Mark McNeill, this Greenstone TV documentary examines controversial evidence put forward to claim an alternative pre-Māori settlement — from cave drawings and carvings, to rock formations and statues. Historians, scientists, museum curators, and amateur archaeologists weigh up the arguments, DNA, carbon, and oral stories of the early Waitaha people, to sift hard fact from mysticism and hope.
Illustrious Energy sees Chan and his older mate Kim prospecting for gold in 1890s Otago. Marooned until they can pay off their debts and return to China; they’ve been fruitlessly working their claim for 12 and 27 years respectively. Chan faces racism, isolation, extreme weather, threatening surveyors, opium dens and a circus romance. The renowned feature-directing debut of cinematographer Leon Narbey provides a poetic evocation of the Chinese settler experience; especially vivid are Central’s natural details — desolate schist and tussock lands, rasping crickets.
In the late 1970s a like-minded group of young people decided to live together communally on a block of land in the Coromandel, and the Mahana community was born. In this Vice documentary Arthur Van Resseghem, the last member of that original group, guides the camera around the dilapidated sites of "vandalised" commune houses. Van Resseghem believes the other residents have abandoned Mahana's original vision — but it seems he has become an outlier in the community, with other residents claiming 'undesirable' people were being promised free homes.
After almost two decades of directing and producing documentaries, David Harry Baldock left TVNZ in 1988 to launch Ninox Television. The company’s roster of reality-based programming included export hit Sensing Murder, local award-winner Our People Our Century and nine seasons of Location Location Location. These days Baldock is busy making arts programmes from Shanghai.
For more than 20 years, Haunui Royal has been driven by the desire to be part of a vibrant Māori voice in broadcasting. The director turned executive got his break at TVNZ in 1988, before directing everything from a long line of documentaries (The Truth about Māori), to entertainment (Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour). Later he spent seven years as General Manager of Programming at Māori Television.
David Paul's work as a cameraman and director of photography covers the gamut, from documentary and dramas to shorts, commercials and feature films. His CV includes award-winning work on telemovies Tangiwai - A Love Story and Until Proven Innocent, plus Edmund Hillary miniseries Hillary.
Māori and Cook Island producer and director Lanita Ririnui has made a career telling the stories of youth, women, Māori and Pacific Islanders. Her extensive CV includes Pasifika youth show Fresh, Māori Television's flagship sports show Code, and interactive website Poi 360.
Lynda Topp is half of the Topp Twins, the singing sisters who have plucked their way across the country and the globe with their unique brand of comedy and country music. 2009 Topp Twins documentary Untouchable Girls is the most successful local doco released to date in local cinemas. In 2014 the twins presented TV series Topp Country, which became the third most watched local programme of the year.
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early short films won awards — science fiction tale Planet Man was the first New Zealand short to win the Critic's Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and a run of arts documentaries for television, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for other directors.
The Governor was a television epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey in six thematic parts. Grey's "Good Governor" persona was undercut with laudanum, lechery and land confiscation. NZ TV's first (and only) historical blockbuster was hugely controversial, provoking a parliamentary inquiry and "test match sized" audiences. It won a 1978 Feltex Award for Best Drama. Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw trumpeted: "It has made Māori matter. If Pākehā now have a better understanding of the Māori point of view [...] it stems from The Governor.