The second episode of this 1992 celebration of New Zealand rugby looks at the period from 1925 - 1956, as depression and war affected the national game. Scrum rules changed — outlawing the wing forward position, pioneered by the Kiwis — and NZ found itself chasing the pack: the no-longer-invincible All Blacks regularly came out losers playing against South Africa. The Springbok was finally felled in a series by the Kiwis in 1956 (played at home in front of huge, manic crowds). All Black Peter Jones famously summed it up the achievement post match: “I’m absolutely buggered”.
It seems a fascination with going fast is built into human DNA. Covering distance in the shortest amount of time has long captured our imagination. From muscle-powered freaks of nature (thoroughbred horses, falcons, Peter Snell) to motorhead mayhem, from Formula 1 legends to front-running design innovation, this collection celebrates the particularly Kiwi 'need for speed'.
'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
After being spotted by television producer Christopher Bourn at the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc Awards, Maria Dallas was asked to star in series Golden Girl, grooving and bopping through country and crossover numbers. On a WNTV-1 stairway to nowhere set, she duets on Loxene winner ‘Tumblin’ Down’ with the song’s writer Jay Epae. Her other four numbers include ‘Rustle Your Bustle’ (by Kiwi Sam Freedman), and ‘Engine Engine No 9’. Guests The Dallas Four make their TV debut with a version of doo-wop classic ‘Stay’. The band went on to provide backing vocals for pop show Happen Inn.
This 1948 documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed for the National Film Unit by New Zealand’s first female film director, Margaret Thomson. It shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city.
This classic wartime newsreel profiles the coal mining towns of Westland. It compares the town of Rūnanga, where mining has brought prosperity and a strong community life, with Denniston, which is set in rocky, inhospitable land high up a West Coast mountainside. Its tone is patriotic: “Here then are the men who feed New Zealand with the raw material of industrial prosperity ... They work in the darkness of the mines, buried away from the fresh splendours of the air above them.” The Weekly Reviews were screened in cinemas 1942 - 1950.
The iconic all-things-rural show is the longest running programme on New Zealand television. With its typical patient observational style (that allows stories of people and the land to gently unfold) it’s an unlikely broadcasting star, but New Zealanders continue, after 50 plus years, to tune in. Amongst the bucolic tales of farming, fishing and forestry, there are high country musters, floods, organic brewing, falconry, tobacco farming, as well as a fencing wire-playing farmer-musician, a radio-controlled dog, and Fred Dagg and the Trevs.
Using music to bring home an important message is an age-old technique, used to good effect here by Senior Constable Bryan Ward and Bobby, his talking police dog. Joined by a bunch of enthusiastic kids and members of emergency services, they make some moves while reworking lullaby 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' into a road safety message. Producer and children’s TV icon Suzy Cato is among those making a direct appeal for drivers to slow down on roads, before a final karaoke verse which viewers can sing along to at home.
The Central Otago gold mining town of Cromwell celebrates its centenary in this NFU documentary. For a fortnight the townsfolk go about their ordinary business, but in colonial-era costume. They also re-enact the frontier-style life of gold rush New Zealand. Just 20 years before the film was shot, Cromwell banks were still receiving deposits of gold dust from customers. But the Cromwell of 1966 is also just a memory. While the old main street still exists, much of the town was flooded with the completion of the Clyde dam in 1993.
This motors'n'mullets doco focuses on a group of men, women and their families who are obsessed by stock car racing. Shot by Stuart Dryburgh, it follows a group of drivers and their crews as they ready for Saturday night racing in the mud at Waikaraka Park Speedway, Onehunga. Hours are spent preparing, and repairing the one-and-a-half tonne cars that can travel at speeds of up to 112 kmph in one of the few full contact motor sports. Passion, ego and native cunning fuel the drama, and injuries and personal sacrifices are the price for the part-time petrol heads.