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Finola Dwyer: An education in production...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Internationally successful Kiwi film producer Finola Dwyer began her career as an editor at the National Film Unit and then moved on to editing and producing at TVNZ. Dwyer migrated over to the film industry and worked as an editor and producer. Some of the memorable New Zealand films she worked on include Came a Hot Friday, Starlight Hotel, and The Quiet Earth. In the 90s, Dwyer moved to the UK where she has made a name for herself producing films such as Backbeat, An Education and Dean Spanley.



Curated by NZ On Screen team

NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection offers up the sights and sounds of a city edged by ocean, and famed for its music. Dunedin is a bracing mixture of old and new: of Victorian buildings and waves of fresh-faced students, many of them carrying guitars. As Dave Cull reflects in his introduction, it is a city where distance is no barrier to creativity and innovation.

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25 Years of Shortland Street

Curated by NZ On Screen team

After countless romances, breakups and revelations — plus the odd psycho and crashing helicopter — Shortland Street turned 25 in May 2017. Made on the run, sold round the globe, the Kiwi soap opera juggernaut has provided a launchpad for dozens of actors and behind the scenes talents. Alongside best of clips, the very first episode, musical moments and favourite memories from the cast, Shortland star turned director Angela Bloomfield writes about how the show has changed here, while Mihi Murray backgrounds how it began — and how it reflects New Zealand.

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The Animation Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans. 

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The First Two Years at School

Short Film, 1950 (Full Length)

This 1950 documentary about early primary school education was made by pioneering female director Margaret Thomson, who rated it her favourite NZ work. The survey of contemporary educational theory examines the new order in 'infant schooling' (though some things never change, like tadpoles and tidy up time). It is broken into sections: ‘Play in the Infant School’, ‘Doing and Learning’, ‘Learning to Read’, ‘Number Work’ and ‘Living and Learning’. The National Film Unit doco was made for the Department of Education. Douglas Lilburn composed the score.


New Streets - South Auckland, Two Cities

Television, 1982 (Full Length)

Reporter Neil Roberts ventures into South Auckland in this TVNZ documentary, and finds two rapidly growing but very different communities. Otara and Mangere are becoming New Zealand’s industrial powerhouse, but a huge influx of Māori and Pacific Island workers and their families are struggling to adapt in a brand new city that was farmland just decades earlier, and lacks amenities for its new citizens. Meanwhile, to the east, Howick and Pakuranga are also booming but their more upwardly mobile, prosperous and very Pākehā citizens seem to be living in a world of their own.

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The HeART of the Matter

Film, 2016 (Excerpts)

The HeART of the Matter looks at major changes in New Zealand teaching which began after World War ll. A group of bureaucrats and arts specialists set about introducing a "thoroughly bicultural and arts-centred education system" to schools — in contrast to the rote learning of the past. Combining interviews and archival footage, Luit and Jan Bieringa (The Man in the Hat) examine this period of radical educational reform, and ask what lessons can be applied to the present. In the excerpts above, pupils and teachers reminisce about their time in the classroom.

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From Indonesia to India

Short Film, 1962 (Full Length)

The Colombo Plan was a Commonwealth “federation of neighbours” which aimed to counter communism in Asia by providing development aid in the area's poorer countries. This National Film Unit short, directed by future NFU manager David H Fowler, ranges across Asia as it surveys New Zealand’s contributions to the postwar plan: funding hospitals, agriculture and education in Indonesia, Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo, Pakistan and India. The film also visits Colombo students in their home countries, passing on skills that they learned while studying at NZ universities.

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Our Small World

Television, 2000 (Full Length)

Our Small World is a portrait of life on an atoll in Tokelau — on Fale, an island so small, the schoolhouse had to be built on the next island, and the pigs live on the reef. Narrated by Tokelau-born Ioane Puka on a return visit, the film examines old traditions meeting pressures from the outside world, an emphasis on self-sufficiency and togetherness, and worries over education and a declining, youth-heavy population. Key decisions are made by a group of male elders, although after initial doubts, they have accepted a woman police officer.


Trouble Is My Business

Film, 2008 (Trailer)

Juliette Veber's observational documentary tells the story of Gary Peach, a teacher in charge of discipline at South Auckland's Aorere College. "Peachy" has unorthodox methods (a loud hailer to wrangle truants) but his genuine commitment to the mainly Māori and Pacific Island kids is provoking and affecting. Filmed over six months on the trail of Peach's beat, the film received applause at 2008 NZ Film Festival screenings and made many annual 'best of' lists. The NZ Herald called it a: "very moving report from education's frontline ... a compelling watch".