This extended episode of First Hand sees a couple at an economic crossroads, and making the decision to move into self-employment. After finding their jobs in Auckland compromised, Alec and Sheena McDonald set out to find and buy their own dairy in a small North Island town. They end up in Awakeri, near Whakatāne. The lifestyle transition is far from trouble-free, as the couple must negotiate the worlds of bureaucracy and banking to insure their new business stays afloat. The documentary provides insights into running a small business during a time of economic reform.
The decade of fondue and flares also cooked up colour television. Our black and white living room icons — from Selwyn Toogood to Space Waltz — melted into a Kiwi kaleidoscope of Top Town, Grunt Machine, and Close to Home. And 'our stories' and rights fights — boks, hikoi, nukes and 'nam — echoed onscreen (Sleeping Dogs, Tangata Whenua). Ready to roll?
Packed with creatures and landscapes that quite simply boggle the mind, the Nature Collection showcases New Zealand's impressive menagerie of nature and wildlife films. Many of the titles were made by powerhouse company NHNZ, which began around 1977 as the Natural History Unit, a small, southern outpost of state television. In this backgrounder, Peter Hayden — who had a hand in more than a few of these classic films — guides viewers through just what the Nature Collection has to offer.
This collection celebrates all things equine on New Zealand screens. Since the early days of the colony, horses have been everything from nation builders (Cobb & Co) to national heroes (Phar Lap, Charisma) to companions (Black Beauty) to heartland icons. Whether work horse, war horse, wild horse, or show pony, horses have become a key part of this (Kiwi) way of life.
Zoo Babies - Raising Baby Iwani was a spin-off from long-running Greenstone series The Zoo. Capitalising on the cute charisma of baby animals, it highlights the inherent dramas of animal breeding programmes at zoos. Filmed at Auckland Zoo, this documentary follows the story of surviving twin Baby Iwani, a Siamang gibbon, whose mother rejected him at six weeks of age. Senior primate keeper Christine Tintinger takes on the role of surrogate Mum, hand-raising Iwani for a year before giving him back to his mother. The documentary originally screened in two parts.
This episode in the Open Door series looks at the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre. The centre rescues, raises and rehabilitates over a thousand birds every year. It runs breeding programmes for kiwi and other native birds as well as education programs for children and the general public. "No bird is turned away" is the mantra of founders Robert and Robyn Webb. This episode features The Centre's most famous resident, Woof Woof the talking tui (RIP) — see it to believe it!
When the takahē was rediscovered in the Murchison mountains in 1948, it made world headlines as a back from extinction story. This documentary checks in on the big flightless birds three decades later, with their future under threat (by deer, stoats and breeding failure). Doctor Geoffrey Orbell recalls the 1948 expedition. Project Takahē was the first Wild South documentary made by TVNZ’s Natural History Unit (later NHNZ). The images of takahē – blue, green and red, plodding in the snowy tussock – marked the first time most New Zealanders had seen the bird in the wild.
Open Door is series where community projects team up with Morningside Productions and TV3 to tell their stories. This episode looks at Rotorua's Wingspan, where the art of falconry is being used to train, breed and rehabilitate kārearea and other birds of prey. The $20 note icon can fly at speeds over 100kph, as spectacularly demonstrated in a public show when a falcon hunts down a finch. But habitat loss, vulnerable nests and being shot at, means there are less than 8,000 falcons left — a threatened status that the Wingspan project is working at changing.
The early life of Dame Whina Cooper, one of the most influential Māori leaders of the 20th century, is explored in the first episode of this two-part TVNZ profile. The inspirational leader of the 1975 Māori land march was born in Hokianga in 1897. She recalls her first protest at age 18, working with her people to improve their land (spurring them on with a whistle given to her by Sir Apirana Ngata) and becoming a pig breeder (with aid from Princess Te Puea). She also reminisces about a Tuhoe leader who gave new meaning to the idea of fiery oratory.
A pocket survey of the diversity of Kiwi farming circa 1952, this film serves as a booster’s reminder that thanks to self-reliance and research, New Zealand ranks as “one of the world’s great farming countries”. Cameraman Brian Brake captures arresting high contrast imagery: cattle move in silhouette against the sky; dust-caked fertiliser trucks emerge from clouds of lime; shirtless WWII veterans load silage onto harvesters. Meanwhile an upbeat, nationalistic voiceover pays homage to the holy trinity of good pasture, stock and climate.