The Hawke’s Bay earthquake was New Zealand’s worst civil disaster. Over 250 people died following the 7.8 quake on 3 February 1931. In this full-length documentary, director Gaylene Preston (Hope and Wire) gathers eyewitness accounts from survivors, including kuia Hana Lyola Cotter, who recounts joining the rescue effort as a teen, poet Lauris Edmond, and a student from Greenmeadows Seminary. Included is eye-opening newsreel footage of the damage. Earthquake was nominated for Best Popular Documentary at the 2006 Qantas TV Awards; it won best sound at the NZ Screen Awards.
Set at the apex of the magnificent Te Mata Peak, Ed Davis' spectacular one shot wonder appears devilishly loaded. Opening on a transmitter tower, we pan to discover our brooding hero slouched in front of TV. Cropping to widescreen allows Davis to cleverly frame the action and draw focus, as our axe wielding hero busts a valve, unleashing a world of hurt upon the offending appliance. Backing away from the dispute, amidst breathtaking scenery, we close on the root of evil - the loathsome tower.
This collection looks at some of New Zealand's most significant national tragedies. Spanning 150+ years, it tells stories of drama, caution, hope and recovery — from the 1863 wreck of the Orpheus at Manukau Heads, to Tarawera, the Wahine, Erebus, Pike River and Christchurch. In the backgrounder, Jock Phillips writes about the collection, and the "common sequence" to disaster.
As a showcase history of Christchurch on screen this collection is backwards looking; but the devastation caused by the earthquakes gives it much more than nostalgic poignancy. As Russell Brown reflects in his introduction, the clips are mementos from, "a place whose face has changed". They testify to the buildings, culture and life of a city now lost, but sure to rise.
It started with grunge and ended with Spice Girls; Di died, Clinton didn't inhale and the All Blacks were poisoned. On screen, Ice TV and Havoc were for the kids and a grown-up Kiwi cinema delivered a powerful triple punch. Tua's linguistic jab proved just as memorable, Tem got a geography lesson and Thingee's eye popped and reverberated around our living rooms.
Christchurch based Paua Productions set out to document the effects of the city’s 4 September earthquake in 2010 but found themselves overtaken by the tragic events of 22 February 22. Their focus is the experiences of everyday people coping with the destruction of large tracts of their city, significant injuries and major loss of life as liquefaction, ruined homes and thousands of aftershocks prolong the initial trauma. A number of the interviewees were followed over a year, as they struggled to come to terms with what had happened and move on.
The first instalment of this two part documentary chronicles the effects of Christchurch’s September 2010 earthquake on a variety of everyday people. They have seen damage to their city they would never have imagined, houses have been destroyed, liquefaction has entered their vocabulary and the ground beneath their feet can no longer be trusted. Miraculously, there has been no loss of life. As seismologists seek to understand what happened, the interviewees tentatively rebuild disrupted lives, but the fatal quakes of 22 February cruelly derail that recovery.
"After living on the street for 20 years, we're now tasting what it's like to live like kings. We're sleeping in fancy sheets, drinking champagne and living in mansions ... and we're f***ing loving it." This Loading Docs short film turns its lens on Cowboy and a group of homeless people for whom the 2010 Christchurch earthquake presented a luxury squatting opportunity. Director Zoe (Day Trip, The Deadly Ponies Gang) McIntosh's thought-provoking look at an aspect of the city where she studied screened on TV’s 20/20 and was shared by the UK’s Daily Mail.
Bernard Kearns presents a survey of NZ life in the 30s in this episode of the National Film Unit series The Years Back (“people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today”). The documentary includes a wealth of footage taken from NFU stock: the aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake, the Depression (as Kearns bluntly states, “there was a lot of misery in the 30s”), and runner Jack Lovelock’s gold medal triumph at the Berlin Olympics. There’s also editorial flair as King George VI’s lavish coronation ceremony is juxtaposed with the A&P show back home.
The second half of this documentary following the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes revisits its subjects in the days after the catastrophic events of 22 February. Devastation is now widespread, the death toll is growing and aftershocks number in the hundreds. Over the next eight months, seriously injured bodies mend but, while there are moments of hope, lives are on hold and nerves are being stretched to breaking point by the constantly moving ground, recurring liquefaction and uncertainty about whether precious homes can, or should, be rebuilt.