A Portrait of Michael Smither

Television, 2007 (Full Length)

In this intimate documentary painter Michael Smither lays bare his life — from a stern Catholic childhood in New Plymouth to the inspiration of Central Otago to his senior years in Otama Beach, collaborating on natural artworks. Smither is best known for his unflinching portraits of family life, works like 'Sarah with Baked Beans' which capture the untamed energy of small children. Smither acknowledges the hardship behind these famous paintings, and the toll it took on his first marriage. Ex-partners (including novelist Rachel McAlpine) open up about their time with Smither. 

Driven

Television, 2003 (Full Length)

This 2003 documentary examines what drove two of New Zealand’s most internationally successful golfers. Future 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell and Phillip Tataurangi look back on their careers to date, and the part played by their Māori ancestry. Their natural talents are set against the hard work, supportive whānau and determination required to succeed on golf’s biggest stages: fro both being part of the Kiwi team that won the Eisenhower Trophy in 1992 to success as professionals on PGA and European Tours. Campbell retired in 2015.

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 2 - The Whole World's Watching

Television, 2010 (Full Length Episode)

The birth of television in the 1960s meant that suddenly protests and civil unrest could be broadcast directly into Kiwi homes. This episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television looks at many of those events — involving everything from the Vietnam War and the Springbok tour, to Bastion Point and the Homosexual Law Reform Act. It also examines how being televised altered their impact. Interviews with both protestors and reporters provide a unique insight into what it was like to be living through extraordinary periods of New Zealand history.

Praise Be - Easter Special

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

In this special Easter episode of TVNZ’s Sunday morning mainstay, original Praise Be host Graeme Thomson introduces hymns from some of the country’s oldest churches. Throughout the country church choirs deliver praise, while Thomson offers intermittent quotes from the bible to remind viewers of the true meaning of Easter. The special includes a hymn performed inside Christchurch’s iconic cathedral, before it was destroyed in the 2011 quakes. Praise Be first debuted in 1986, and has been on air ever since, apart from two years off the air in the mid 2000s. 

Margaret Thomson

Director

The late Margaret Thomson is arguably the first New Zealand woman to have directed films. Thomson spent much of her film career working in England, plus two years back in New Zealand at the National Film Unit. Her NFU short Railway Worker (1948) is regarded as a classic.  

NZBC Actors' Workshops

Television, 1967 (Full Length)

This 1967 documentary offers a rare behind the scenes glimpse into the early days of Kiwi television, as a group of actors learn firsthand how the new medium differs from the stage. The actors' workshops were held in three cities as part of a push to create more local drama. After NZ Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Bell introduces the actors to the camera, they try out some scenes. Five TV plays emerged, and two are seen getting made: The Tired Man, featuring Grant Tilly and Ray Henwood, and acclaimed Christchurch-shot drama Game for Five Players.

Erik Thomson

Actor

Scots-born Erik Thomson moved to New Zealand at age seven. In the mid 90s his career took off, after he began acting in Australia. In 2004 he won an AFI award for feature Somersault, then later starred in Aussie TV hit Packed to the Rafters and NZ drama/comedy We're Here to Help. In 2016 Thomson won a Best Actor Logie for his role in TV series 800 Words, as an Australian widower who moves his family to NZ.

Kathleen O'Brien

Director

For 20 years Kathleen O'Brien was the only woman director at the government's National Film Unit. Her films were invited to festivals overseas. Known for her work involving children and education, O'Brien's directed comical road safety short Monkey Tale (1952), and the moving Story of Seven Hundred Polish Children (1966).

Chris Thomson

Director, Producer

While still in his 20s Chris Thomson was given command of a number of landmark New Zealand TV dramas, including genre-hopping colonial tale The Killing of Kane and The Alpha Plan (1969), Aotearoa’s first dramatic TV series. After time working for the BBC, he moved to Australia and began a busy career as a director, including credits on high profile mini-series 1915 and Waterfront. Thomson died on 1 July 2015. 

Ray Columbus

Entertainer

Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.