Director Sam Neill uses ‘Architect Man’ — a cartoon superhero trying to save Wellington’s buildings from mediocrity — to open this visual essay on contemporary Kiwi architecture. A montage of construction materials is followed by views on the high rise, woolshed, and Futuna Chapel. Renovation, DIY, prefabs and non-conformist design thinking are offered as hopes for the built environment’s future. Made by Neill when he was working at the National Film Unit, it was released in a shortened version (without the animation) in 1977, the same year he starred in movie Sleeping Dogs.
Half-hour documentary The Reel People of New Zealand visits boutique cinemas, from Te Awamutu’s Regent Theatre to Stewart Island’s Bunkhouse. The changing landscape of movie-watching is revealed through visits to legendary Christchurch video store Alice (which has added a screening venue) to Opunake’s community-owned Everybody’s Theatre and Wanaka’s compact Rubys Cinema. The interviews include cinema and video store managers, tales of getting married in a cinema, and contrasting views on whether the death of cinema is unlikely or inevitable.
Director Chris Graham planned an ambitious video for this song, but budget and scheduling got in the way. When Graham heard TrinityRoots were disbanding, he pitched the idea of a live video at their farewell concert in the Wellington Town Hall. Mixing in footage of land and sea, the result honours one of their anthems and captures a glimpse of the original line-up in their soulful, impassioned element. TrinityRoots regrouped in 2010, but this video preserves the final moments of their first incarnation; when their one waka was turning into three.
At 11am on 15 August 1945 news of Japanese surrender reached New Zealand, marking the end of the nation's six years in World War II. This newsreel records the public celebrations in windy downtown Wellington and on Auckland’s Queen St, where there are street parties, bagpipes and beer as tensions are released. At Wellington Town Hall on the second day of the public holiday, tributes are paid to “team spirit”; and Prime Minister Fraser hopes for social justice and that the dead have not died in vain. Then there is a mass rendition of ‘Land of Hope of Glory’.
From a pre-Mythbusters but post-blackboard and pointer era, Christchurch-produced Science Express took a current affairs approach to reporting contemporary NZ scientific research. Presented by broadcaster Ken Ellis this 1984 ‘best of’ dives beneath fiords to explore mysterious black coral forests; and looks at teeth transplants, efforts to stimulate deer fawning, and the STD chlamydia. Finally the show visits Wellington and Christchurch Town Halls to profile concert hall acoustics pioneer Harold Marshall, and his mission to attain perfect sound for listeners.
Beatlemania hit New Zealand in June 1964, as this footage makes clear. Welcoming 'the Fab Four' to Auckland after they arrive from Wellington, Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson repeatedly asks the noisily enthusiastic crowd to "hold it please". He shakes John Lennon's finger, and the Beatles lark around with poi and attempt to hongi members of a Māori culture group. George Harrison also features in a short opening interview. Lennon threatened not to perform unless police protection was upgraded, after the Beatles encountered large crowds while arriving at their hotel.
The Wellington region is the focus of this 1958 edition in the long-running NFU series. The newsreel shows the rapidly developing town of Porirua, where farmland is being converted into state housing. Meanwhile in Taita the Hutt Valley Youth club provides entertainment for bored young people on Sunday afternoons. Highland dancing vies with skiffle and rock and roll, and Elvis-style quiffs date the teen spirit. Such clubs were set up after the 1954 Mazengarb inquiry into juvenile delinquency. And at Athletic Park a classic All Black line-up wallops the Wallabies 25-3.
Although Harry Lavington's acting career spanned four decades on stage and screen, he is probably best known for a single role: that of baker and family man Ken Paget, on long-running New Zealand soap Close to Home.
New Zealand’s first left-wing documentary filmmaker, Cecil Holmes achieved notoriety in the late 1940s through the highly publicised exposure of his communist activity as a Public Service Association (PSA) delegate in the National Film Unit. He went on to become a significant film director in Australia.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-023573; F (detail)
Beth Tredray began working in sound at Radio New Zealand, and the National Film Unit. Often on contract to TVNZ, she worked on shows Close Up and Top Town. Going freelance as a sound recordist in the early 90s, she began moving into sound design in the mid 2000s. Since then Tredray has designed the soundtracks for hit documentary Tickled and Emmy-nominated telefilm The Golden Hour.