New Zealand has a long connection to Antarctica, as demonstrated by this collection. Included are documentaries on creatures above and below the ice, chronicles of past explorers, visits by Clarke Gayford and Marcus Lush, two films that were nominated for Academy Awards — and an ode to explorer Ernest Shackleton, from singer Andrew Fagan.
New Zealand's relationship with Antarctica and the explorers and scientists who went there is the focus of this episode in The Years Back series, with Bernard Kearns as guide. Early last century NZ was the starting point for most polar expeditions, including Robert Falcon Scott's fatal attempt to reach the Pole. Footage of Scott on the ice is featured, and as well as clips of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic survival tale. Of course the Sir Edmund Hillary-led 50s Kiwi expedition is shown: Hillary made a defiant dash for the Pole on tractors, arriving 4 January 1958.
Though it plays hell with cameras, Antarctica has long fascinated filmmakers. This hour-long National Film Unit documentary was assembled from a five-part TV series of the same name. There are looks at scientific research, early explorers, and Antarctica's affect on global climate. Made four decades ago, the programme warns of a possible "new and potentially dangerous warming period", and calls the greenhouse effect a "controversial scientific theory". The large cast includes penguins, a seal birth (clip two) and a heavyweight team of Kiwi scientists.
A polar explorer might seem an odd subject for one of NZ’s leading mid-80s bands to tackle – but, for all the make-up and rock'n'roll finery, Andrew Fagan was no ordinary pop star. This ode to Ernest Shackleton, from The Mockers' second album, was a pointer to Andrew Fagan the accomplished ocean going, solo yachtsman. Such subject matter would have sorely tested TVNZ's resources for making low budget clips. This compromise sees the band on a studio set dressed with suitably nautical looking nets, intercut with archival footage of a Shackleton expedition.
Conservation pioneer Richard Henry tried to save the kākāpō from rats and stoats, via an island sanctuary in 1890s Fiordland. His doomed bird rescue efforts might seem an odd subject for a pop ballad. Singer/songwriter Andrew Fagan also included a paean to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on 1985 Mockers album Culprit and the King. Fagan argues that adventuring is "naturally something to aspire to. Writing pop songs about it never felt like an issue to me." This performance of the song, directed in a single shot by Brent Hansen, roams a gloomy Avalon studio.