For a small country from the edge of the world, achievements on the Olympic stage are badges — silver fern-on-black — of national pride: precious moments where we gained notice (even if it was Mum’s anthem playing on the dais). This legacy collection draws on archive footage, some rarely seen, to celebrate the stories behind Kiwis going for gold.
After years of success manufacturing shoes, employing struggling members of the South Auckland community, and feeding hungry kids with the proceeds, entrepreneur Karroll Brent-Edmondson hit hard times in 1998. This 70-minute documentary follows Brent-Edmondson as she attempts to get her business back on track, and avoid liquidation, under the guidance of a committee led by Dick Hubbard. Brent-Edmondson was named 1995 Māori Businesswoman of the Year, and went on to feature in Top Shelf documentary A Hell of a Ride. She passed away in June 2006.
In 1991 six tribes took a major claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, encompassing everything from intellectual rights to management of indigenous fauna. Law professor David Williams describes Wai 262 as “the most important claim the tribunal is ever going to hear”. This backgrounder interviews key claimants from three Northland tribes. In 2011 the Tribunal’s Wai 262 report recommended major law reform, arguing for Crown and Māori to shift to a forward-thinking relationship of “mutual advantage in which, through joint and agreed action, both sides end up better off”.
This is the second of three documentaries made about Shelly West (Michelle Belesarius) who was crippled as a child by rheumatoid arthritis and blind from age 19. Against all odds — and medical advice — Shelly is pregnant; but she is all determination as doctors work through how her “tiny, twisted, little frame” will cope with the demands of pregnancy. An audience of 600,000 watched this doco with its compelling scenes as the cameras kept rolling while Shelly nearly died during childbirth, and her newborn daughter was whisked away to intensive care.
Dame Whina Cooper was one of the most influential Māori leaders of the 20th century. She spent most of her life fighting for land rights; and, in this episode from a two-part TVNZ profile, she explains the importance of the land to her people. The former Panguru storekeeper first came to national attention in 1951 when she established the Māori Women’s Welfare League. At age 80, she was back in the spotlight leading the Māori land march; her fire and determination are very much in evidence in a heated address to then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.
Christchurch policeman Stefen Harris launched his film career with this feature-length adaptation of his own book The Waikikamukau Conspiracy, about a small town Māori land claim. When drama funding couldn’t be secured, it was shot as a low budget mockumentary in just six days in South Canterbury. Jim Moriarty manages to be endearing in his determination to regain his people’s land at any cost, while David McPhail and Mark Hadlow enthusiastically lampoon the judicial system. The film won Best Digital Feature at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
This documentary turns the lens on acclaimed photographer Andris Apse. The Latvian war refugee later joined the Forest Service, where he was inspired by lensman John Johns and Fiordland; a chance break taking scenic shots for Air New Zealand empowered Apse to pursue his passion: wilderness photography. From his Okarito home and in the wild, Apse muses on the rugged demands of capturing an image and the "stubborn determination" of his craft. From Time to National Geographic, his photos have helped define Aotearoa as a theatre country of epic, elemental landscapes.
Brooke Fraser took her inspiration for ‘Albertine’ from a girl she met in Rwanda who had been orphaned by the Rwandan genocide, which claimed 800,000 lives in 1994. Believing that “faith without deeds is dead”, Fraser resolved to tell the orphan's story to the world. A similar determination to be more than just a “voyeur of tragedy” is underlined in Anthony Rose’s elegantly understated video, which deals not in terrible statistics but the humanity of everyday people in Rwanda. ‘Albertine’ won the 2007 APRA Silver Scroll for songwriting.
Haunting Douglas is a documentary portrait of dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright. It weaves interviews with footage of past performances, and extracts from his autobiography; from drug addiction and illness, to determination and triumph on the New York stage with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Award-winning director Leanne Pooley captures Wright's resilience: "I need to make things to feel that I can cope with whatever reality is. For me, dancing, performing for people, is the ultimate mystery and the ultimate joy." Wright passed away in November 2018.
When Frank Sanft’s older brother was killed early in World War ll, it only intensified Frank’s determination to serve. Joining the Royal Navy, he was eventually assigned to Operation PLUTO, which involved laying an undersea fuel pipeline between the UK and Cherbourg (vital in keeping Allied vehicles moving, directly after the invasion of France). Frank laughs now at a close call with a sniper ashore in France. Serving in the Pacific, he was there after Singapore’s notorious Changi PoW camp was liberated. In 2017 Sanft was awarded a prestigious French Legion of Honour.