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The Years Back - 2, The Twenties (Episode Two)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of the archive-compiled history series, Bernard Kearns focuses on the Roaring Twenties. Soldiers returning from the First World War struggle to tame the land as commodity prices fall. The Labour Party, with miners as its backbone, gains a foothold on the political scene, and the Ratana Church emerges as an alternative to more distant Māori leaders. In Dunedin, the New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition proves a huge success and members of the Royal Family are popular visitors to our shores. But the Great Depression looms.

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The Years Back - 8, Making Do (Episode Eight)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of archive-compiled The Years Back series sees presenter Bernard Kearns exploring how New Zealand coped on the home front as World War II expanded into South East Asia and the Pacific. Access to imports was hampered and rationing bit. Fuel and rubber shortages are overcome with novel approaches and farmland becomes the garden for our allies. The episode also examines how industry switched from civilian needs to making war materials. The Home Guard changes from a bit of a laugh to deadly seriousness as the threat grows of invasion by Japan.

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Back of the Y Masterpiece Television - 7, Series One, Episode Seven

Television, 2001 (Full Length Episode)

The final episode of Chris Stapp and Matt Heath's bawdy, bogan, BSA baiting TV variety series spoof opens with a tribute to "People's Presenter" Danny Parker who was a victim of the previous episode's carnage. Show regular Piers Graham looks behind the scenes at the show's imagined past (including 60s exploitation pic 'Datura Flowers of the Garden of Death') and the real injuries sustained by cast members in the show's stunts; and hapless mechanic Spanners Watson get his chance to assume daredevil stuntman Randy Campbell's hopeless mantle.

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The Years Back - 10, The Final Peace (Episode 10)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

The end of World War II is in sight in the 10th episode of this NZ 20th Century history series. But there's still fighting to be done by New Zealand troops and their allies as they battle tenacious Japanese forces in the Pacific. Future Prime Minister Jack Marshall addresses his men in the jungle, and war correspondent Stan Wemyss recalls being under fire with Fijian troops in the jungles of Bougainville (while his footage of the event plays). When the war finally ends, Prime Minister Peter Fraser delivers his victory speech and there is dancing in the streets.

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The Years Back - 13, The State of the Nation (Episode 13)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

This consolidating episode of the archive-based New Zealand history series finds World War II at an end, the return of Kiwi servicemen and the country in an optimistic mood. That's sealed by the 1950 British Empire Games where New Zealand is third on the medal table. But rising prices and low incomes lead to more militant unionism, culminating in the fractious waterfront workers dispute of 1951. At the same time there's a new flowering of the arts. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is established and a new generation of writers and artists take centre stage.

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Back of the Y Masterpiece Television - 6, Series One, Episode Six

Television, 2001 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of Chris Stapp and Matt Heath's bawdy, bogan, BSA baiting TV variety series spoof, studio band Deja Voodoo have been fire after the police raid in the previous episode — but replacements, The Warlocks of Firetop Mountain, lack the "sharp suits and sharp tunes" that presenter Danny Parker is looking for in a band. There's an extended episode of Bottlestore Galactica but the real focus is on stuntman Randy Campbell's last despairing attempt to succeed at even the simplest challenge. His inevitable failure extacts a terrifying toll.

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The Years Back - 9, The Unquiet Ocean (Episode Nine)

Television, 1973 (Full Length)

The Years Back was a NFU-made TV documentary series that used archive footage and interviews to survey New Zealand’s 20th Century history. This episode details events in the Pacific during World War II, from Japan’s 1941 attack of Pearl Harbour through to mid-1944. Japan’s aggressive thrust into South East Asia threatened NZ and Australia (“any day now it’ll be us”), and forced the countries into war close to home. Veterans and commanders recall sea battles, rallying of air defences and jungle warfare, from New Caledonia to New Guinea. 

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The Years Back - 5, The Desert (Episode Five)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of the The Years Back presenter Bernard Kearns explores New Zealand's part in the famous campaign against Rommel in the Libyan Desert. Using rare footage of the action and contemporary post-battle reconstructions, the episode follows the New Zealand 2nd Division in the lead up to the battle of El Alamein and pursuit of the German Afrika Korps, and victory under the guidance of legendary British commander Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. A notable moment is Kiwi Sergeant Keith Elliott being presented with his VC for his deeds at Ruweisat Ridge.

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Back of the Y Masterpiece Television - 5, Series One, Episode Five

Television, 2001 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of the "greatest TV show on earth", the ape set on fire in the show's first episode  when Randy Campbell's stunt went "horribly wrong"  has escaped, and the hairy one is after vengeance. Meanwhile the police show no sympathy for presenter Danny Parker and daredevil Campbell, for the way the show has portrayed them. And against all odds, Spanners Watson's rocket car 'The Spirit of Russell Crowe' might actually work ... but the ape and the police are closing in.

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The Years Back - 1, The Twentieth Century (Episode One)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

Made for television, this 13-part National Film Unit series aimed to showcase "people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today". The Bernard Kearns-presented series is mostly composed of footage taken from NFU stock. Fascinating early film clips are accompanied by interviews with elderly gents and ladies who reminisce about events as they unfold on the screen. This edition focuses on the opening decades of the 20th century; the nostalgia takes a dark turn when bow tie-wearing Kearns discusses World War I and provides alarming statistics of loss of life.