This wartime edition of the NFU's newsreel series opens with a one and a half mile Wellington harbour swim at Evans Bay. Then it's up to Dannevirke for an A&P show for sheep dog trials and show jumping spills. The reel ends with a visit to the NZ Expeditionary Force's Christmas celebrations while fighting in Italy. There's mail from home, hospital romance, malarky in the snow as poultry and wine is chased, and Māori Battalion soldiers roast a pig. Ambulances are a reminder that war goes on; and on the frontline machine gun crews help keep "Jerry below ground".
Two expat Kiwis return home from the United Kingdom in this episode of Coming Home — Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien, and renowned opera tenor Patrick Power. Power returns for work: he’s performing two demanding roles in Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana in Auckland. O’Brien’s visit is far more relaxed, visiting old haunts, his siblings and a former employer. Despite the pair espousing love for their UK residences, both fall victim to that irresistible allure of home. O'Brien, a British citizen raised in Aotearoa, was finally granted citizenship in 2011.
The Fantasy Cave is a DIY Disneyland built in the town of Dannevirke. Created by a group of older locals known as ‘Cave Dwellers’ as a Christmas-themed grotto in 1989, the cave has evolved to become a quirky tourist attraction, encompassing animatronics and astral light displays. Directed by Michelle Savill (Ellen is Leaving) and cinematographer Matt Henley, this 2015 Loading Docs short introduces us to the horse-headed retirees and their homespun wonderlands, and the happiness they find in “making stuff”.
Named Head of the Internal Production Department at TVNZ while still in her late 20s, Dana Youngman first worked her way up the producing ladder on lifestyle shows like Maggie’s Garden Show and A Taste of Home. Since then she has worked on New Zealand’s Got Talent and Whānau Living, and helped create a cooking show with Annabel Langbein which screened in more than 80 countries.
The same year she graduated from drama school Toi Whakaari, Dannevirke-raised Jessica Grace Smith won a starring role in Diagnosis: Death, as a young cancer patient investigating ghosts. Smith rejoined the film's director Jason Stutter to co-star in his black comedy Edwin: My Life as a Koont. Then she headed to Australia. A week before she was planning to relocate to Los Angeles, she scored an ongoing part in Aussie soap Home and Away. In 2019 Smith landed the role of a young Cheryl West for the fifth season of Westside. Smith has also directed programmes, including short Everybody Else is Taken.
Dannevirke-born Kirsty Hamilton got into drama school Toi Whakaari at age 18, then joined youth show Oi and co-starred in short film Eau de la Vie. In 1997 she was nominated for an NZ Film best actress award for feature Saving Grace. Hamilton co-starred as Grace, a self-destructive teen who meets a man who may be Jesus Christ. Since then Hamilton has acted on The Strip and ensemble dramas Mercy Peak and The Hothouse.