This 2016 Loading Doc introduces a heavily-tattoed Englishman living in Rarotonga. Croc Coulter is an unlikely master of the traditional art of tātatau (tattoo); the documentary follows Coulter as he teaches the art form to an apprentice, Moko Smith. Coulter also lives with cystic fibrosis. It was directed by Robert George, who has Cook Islands Māori and Māori heritage, and a background as both a painter and in post-production work for the screen. The mini documentary was shared internationally; it also featured on National Geographic's Short Film Showcase.
Wellington band The Black Seeds present the debut episode in this TV series profiling creative Kiwi culture. They begin by going behind the scenes on their action-packed music video Hey Son (with Bret McKenzie donning a Captain Cook meets Freddie Mercury number). There’s an early profile of Auckland graffiti/ streetwear artist Misery (complete with cycle interview, and cameo from artist Elliot 'Askew' O'Donnell), London-based Ta Moko artist Te Rangitu Netana talks about life away from home, and tattooing Robbie Williams; and there’s a piece about skateboarding mag Manual.
Director Florian Habicht returns to his Northland home turf to chronicle the annual Snapper Classic Fishing Contest, in this full-length documentary. First prize is $50,000, but the participants chase the joy of the cast as much as the purse. The solitary figures on the epic sweep of Ninety Mile Beach provide poetic images, as Habicht teases out homespun philosophy while fishing for answers on love, the afterlife and whether fish have feelings. The soundtrack features 50s style instrumentals from Habicht regular Marc Chesterman, plus singalongs on the sand and at the local pub.
Tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr, American star of Roswell) travels the world looking for ethnic designs to exploit for his art. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he is introduced to the traditional Samoan tattoo, and falls for Sina (No. 2's Mia Blake) the beautiful cousin of tattooist Alipati. When Jake recklessly steals a Samoan tattooing tool, he unwittingly unleashes a powerful spirit that endangers everyone he touches. This inaugural Kiwi-Singaporean co-production was directed by Peter Burger and produced by Robin Scholes (Once Were Warriors).
The synopsis for this 2015 short film gets straight to the point: 'A man has a lot to think about when he wakes up dead'. Part black comedy, part tearjerker, Slabbed revolves around two men having a chat, one of whom has just worked out he'll never be getting that tattoo he always wanted. The man lying on the next slab has a speech impediment caused by his injuries. Stabbed won writer/director Ben Hobbs third prize at the local arm of short film contest Tropfest. Actor Preston O'Brien — playing the victim with the tattoos — scored for Best Male Actor.
Tā Moko is a half hour documentary on Māori tattoo, including rare footage of internationally acclaimed Māori artist George Nuku getting a full-face moko via traditional tattooing techniques. The documentary follows the journey of Tā Moko from its use and status in traditional Māori culture, to its appropriation as gang insignia, and its revival as an expression of Māori identity and pride in the modern world. Directed by Kim Webby, Tā Moko screened on TVNZ, and was a finalist at the 2007 NZ Media Peace Awards.
This 1972 documentary explores the world of a dying generation of Māori female elders or kuia — “the last of the Māori women with tattooed chins”. The film pays tribute to the place of the kuia in Māori culture, and of wahine tā moko. Among those on screen are 105-year old Ngahuia Hona, who cooks in hot pools, rolls a cigarette, and eats with whānau, and “the oldest Māori” Nga Kahikatea Wirihana, who remembers the Battle of Ōrākau during the land wars, and has outlived four husbands. Into Antiquity was an early documentary from veteran director Wayne Tourell.
This short film follows a teenage hitchhiker (Aaron McGregor) in search of his birth mother. The apprehension of the journey is heightened when he gets picked up by a mean-looking Māori (Calvin Tuteao) with a swastika tattooed on his face. The boy's great expectations wind up being realised in different ways than he might have imagined. The dramatic debut from actor-director Matthew Saville, Hitch Hike thumbed a ride to international festivals, from Tampere to Durban; the “emotionally engaging” film was selected for website Short of the Week in August 2014.
Tony Fomison, one of NZ’s leading painters, is profiled in this 1981 episode of a series about notable artists, made for TVNZ. Interviewed by Hamish Keith, Fomison is an engaging but diffident subject — describing his often dark, brooding works as “illustrations of dreams”, but also ascribing human emotions to them. His powerful attraction to Pacific cultures is explored; it culminated in this Pākehā son of a working-class Christchurch family getting a pe’a (the traditional Samoan body tattoo). Tony Fomison died in 1990.
Like the digital ‘mash-up’ concept to come, this 1970 film uses content from more than one source to create something new. In this film collage, relics of visual and material culture from New Zealand museums are combined to evoke life in earlier eras. These objects — from moa skeletons, to scrimshaw, to a stereoscope, and surveys of Māori culture and sex appeal (!) — are mixed with historical footage (including turn of the century Queen Street) and a classical score. Another Time was directed by Arthur Everard for the National Film Unit.