This documentary goes behind the scenes on New Zealand television's first historical blockbuster: 1977 George Grey biopic The Governor. Presenter Ian Johnstone looks at how the show reconstructed 19th Century Aotearoa, and handled large scale battle scenes. The footage provides a fascinating snapshot of a young industry. Also examined is The Governor's place in 1970s race politics and its revisionist ambitions. Key players interviewed include creators Keith Aberdein and Tony Isaac, and actors Don Selwyn, Corin Redgrave, Martyn Sanderson, and Terence Cooper.
Rowley Habib — also known as Rore Hapipi — was one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre. In 1983 Habib won a Feltex Award for land rights drama The Protestors, part of a trio of pioneering one-off plays for television. Habib passed away on 3 April 2016.
A passionate advocate for Māori creative control, director Merata Mita (1942 — 2010) chronicled landmark moments of protest and division in Aotearoa. Her work included Patu!, a documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour, and Mauri (1988), only the second feature to have a Māori woman as director. She features in documentaries Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Merata Mita - Making Waves.
Since landing a national theatre award in 2007 while at high school in Christchurch, Pana Hema-Taylor has become a New Zealand screen regular, thanks to roles in features The Most Fun You Can Have Dying (as best friend to the main character) and The Dead Lands. There have also been recurring roles on television: in shows The Brokenwood Mysteries, Dirty Laundry, and Westside — as a petty criminal who ends up moonlighting as a Springbok tour protestor — and in cable series Spartacus. In 2017 he starred in TV movie Resolve as Chris Crean, who died after providing evidence on a gang attack just outside his house.
Derek Morton is one of those happily unsung industry all-rounders who has tried a little of everything: from documentaries and children's TV to underground films, doing time as a cameraman, editor, writer, producer and director (from commercials and docos, to trucking drama Roche), as well as running his own production company.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
With a CV that includes everything from judges to Amazon queens, Alison Bruce has often been cast as the strong unsmiling type. Yet two of her biggest screen roles completely break that mould: the fraudulent but well-meaning fortune teller in 2001 feature Magik and Rose, and the eccentric mother in award-winning series Being Eve.
Russell Campbell has been analysing film and television for more than four decades. A longtime lecturer in film at Victoria University, Campbell’s books include Observations, a volume on New Zealand documentary — a field in which he has extensive first-hand experience.
Danny Mulheron has approached comedy from almost every angle: as a writer, director, inside a hippo suit, and as co-creator of the politically-incorrect Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby. But laughter is only half the story. Mulheron has also acted in a run of productions, presented car series AA Torque Show, and directed everything from documentaries (The Third Richard) to several TV dramas about iconic Kiwis.
Tony Isaac played a major hand in creating some of the key TV dramas of 1970s Kiwi television. He produced New Zealand's first continuing television drama Pukemanu, co-created Close to Home, our first soap, and was one of the main forces behind The Governor, arguably the most ambitious TV drama yet made on New Zealand soil. Isaac passed away in May 1986.