Collection

Pioneering Women

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates women and feminism in New Zealand — the first country in the world to give all women the vote. We shine the light on a line of female achievers: suffrage pioneers, educators, unionists, politicians, writers, musicians, mothers and feminist warriors — from Kate Sheppard to Sonja Davies to Shona Laing. In her backgrounder, TV veteran and journalism tutor Allison Webber writes how the collection helps us understand and honour our past, asks why feminism gets a bad rap, and considers the challenges faced by feminism in connecting past and present.

Old Man's Story

Short Film, 1977 (Full Length)

A fictional memoir of a 12-year-old boy's holiday on his uncle's farm, Old Man's Story is also a character study of the personable, potentially dodgy ex-sailor who works there as hired hand. When an orphaned girl comes to stay, there are worries the man has crossed the line in his relationship with her. The first drama for Wellington company The Gibson Group, Old Man's Story also marks a rare screen adaptation of author Frank Sargeson, whose tales of losers and outsiders made him "one of the founders of a modern New Zealand literature" (Lawrence Jones).

A Political Game

Television, 2004 (Excerpts)

A Political Game charts not only intense rugby rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand, but also the politics of racism that came increasingly to the fore. The signs were there during the Springboks first tour of New Zealand in 1921: a South African reporter was outraged white New Zealanders had supported a Māori side. In 1976 an All Black tour of South Africa sparked an African boycott of the Montreal Olympics; the 1981 tour saw violent protests. Starting with the historic All Blacks win in 1996, this excerpt jumps back in time to chart conflicts on and off the field, up until 1949.

Adventures in Māoriland - Alexander Markey and the Making of Hei Tiki

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

After being fired from his first New Zealand film Under the Southern Cross in the late 1920s, American director Alexander Markey returned to make Hei Tiki. Following a sometimes tense shoot, mostly around Taupō, he departed Aotearoa, leaving badwill and fears he'd stolen a number of taonga in his wake. Inspired partly by Māori legend, Hei Tiki sank quickly when finally released in 1935. This documentary features extensive clips from the movie, plus interviews with surviving cast and crew — including co-star Ben Biddle, and pioneering cameraman Ted Coubray. 

The Test

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Some of the great names of All Blacks rugby appear in this documentary, which was made before the 2003 World Cup. They tell the story of the highs and lows of New Zealand’s national game across a century of tours. From cruel violence in the early days to the skills of a top team in full flight, The Test provides the views of players, commentators and coaches. This excerpt concentrates on sometimes bruising encounters between the All Blacks and the Springboks, from the 1920s up to 1956. The Test was named Best TV Sports Programme at the 2003 Qantas Media Awards. 

Loading Docs 2015 - Please Open

Web, 2015 (Full Length)

This 2015 edition in the Loading Docs series explores the past, present and future of Crystal Palace, a dilapidated but stately theatre on Auckland’s Mt Eden Road that has been drawing the curtains since the 1920s. Co-directed by Karl Sheridan and Robin Gee, who work under the Monster Valley moniker, the documentary canvasses the spilled Jaffas, dances, surf film screenings and local legends of the venue — and is also a plea to bring the ballroom and cinema back to life. In March 2016 Monster Valley answered their own call, and took over management of the theatre.

Kaleidoscope - Frances Hodgkins

Television, 1989 (Full Length)

By the time she died in 1947 aged 78, expat Frances Hodgkins was recognised as a key figure in British art. Subtitled 'A Painter of Genius', this 1989 Kaleidoscope portrait mixes archival material with recreations of Hodgkins working in England in the 1940s, and being interviewed by Vogue. Her "gypsy" life ranges from a Dunedin upbringing, leaving New Zealand in 1901, to painting and teaching in Europe, and struggles with poverty and health. After embracing modernism in the 1920s, her art combined still life and landscape in original ways. TV veteran (and artist) Peter Coates directs.

Town Cryer - Beauty Queens

Television, 1976 (Excerpts)

In 1976 three former Miss New Zealand winners fronted up for Max Cryer talk show Town Cryer — including a winner from the 1920s, who agreed to talk on condition her identity wasn’t revealed. The woman recalls her mother firmly turning down offers of travel to Hollywood. 1949 winner Mary ‘Bobbie’ Woodward agrees stamina was as important to the role as beauty. 1954 winner Moana Whaanga (nee Manley) was also a national swimming rep. After the show aired, Cryer heard from an earlier Māori winner, who in 1923 took away possibly the first Miss NZ title of all.

Mouth Wide Open: A Journey in Film with Ted Coubray

Film, 1998 (Excerpts)

Seven decades after he began shooting films, Ted Coubray got his close-up in Mouth Wide Open. The documentary emerged shortly after his death in late 1997. It captured the hive of filmmaking activity that was 1920s Aotearoa — and Coubray's role as a pioneering cameraman, who even directed his own movie (horse racing hit Carbine's Heritage). The arrival of synchronised sound upped film budgets considerably; Coubray was one of the first in Australasia to create his own sound camera. In this opening sequence, he demonstrates one of his many camera-related inventions. 

Artist

Len Lye

Christchurch-born artist Len Lye (1901 - 1980) was an internationally renowned modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor. Recognised as a front-running innovator in setting music to film, e.g. Swinging the Lambeth Walk (1939) and Free Radicals (1958), he travelled extensively in the South Pacific in the 1920s, then moved to London. There Lye began making films for the GPO Film Unit, including A Colour Box (1935), one of the earliest direct films. In 1950 he became a US ctizen. His clips were posthumously programmed on MTV Europe; a retrospective of Lye's work screened at Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2000.