The Treatment of Cerebral Palsy in New Zealand

Film, 1955 (Full Length)

This 65 minute long documentary looks at the treatment of New Zealand children born with cerebral palsy (a set of conditions which affect motor control, caused by brain defects that typically occur around pregnancy and birth). Made for the Department of Health, the National Film Unit production visits a specialist unit in Rotorua, to praise the understanding and care applied to help the ‘cerebral palsied’ live full lives. Director Frank Chilton was made an OBE for services to handicapped children. This film won a Diploma of Merit at the 1957 Edinburgh Film Festival.

The Kids From O.W.L. - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

Armed with laser beam-firing crutches and computerised wheelchairs, 'The Kids' are a crime-fighting duo of physically-disabled teenagers working for O.W.L. (Organisation for World Liberty) to defeat the evil S.L.I.M.E. (Southern Latitude's International Movement for Evil!). Directed by Kim Gabara, this opener for the second series of the fondly-remembered show sees the kids foil a kidnap, enlist a new member, and steal a dangerous weapon: the 'Stickling Solidifier'. Neon alert: aficionados will note the early use of graphics from Apple 2 and Apple 3 computers.  

Weekly Review No. 367 - Crippled Children Society

Short Film, 1948 (Full Length)

This postwar Weekly Review joins a welfare officer from the Crippled Children’s Society on her Wellington rounds: advising parents, chaperoning children to hospitals to undergo physical and speech therapy, and overseeing the supply of specialist footwear and splints. There’s also a Kiwi take on Heidi as a boy is offered a farm holiday, walking on crutches among the cows: “No care and treatment can substitute for the uplift of two weeks in the country.” Released in September 1948, the film was made by decorated war correspondent Stan Wemyss (grandfather of Russell Crowe).

Viewfinder - 12 April 1984

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

In April 1984 Poi-E was atop the NZ music charts, with ‘Jo the breakdancer’ starring in the song's music video. So it's apt that this edition of the TVNZ youth show looks at “the craze currently sweeping New Zealand — breakdancing”. In her first presenting gig, future MTV host Phillipa Dann heads to Mangere to bop and head-spin. Elsewhere in this season opener, David Hindley reports on a School Certificate controversy, and why young drivers are dying on country roads. Co-presenting back in Viewfinder’s Dunedin studio is Uelese Petaia (star of movie Sons for the Return Home).

One in a Thousand

Television, 1964 (Full Length)

“Mental subnormality here is no higher than in other countries. Still it strikes more than one in a thousand.” The subjects of this 1964 NFU documentary are intellectually disabled patients (mostly children) at a Levin psychopaedic hospital, and the trainee nurses who care for them. The narration embodies contemporary healthcare ideas where “retarded” children were seen as patients to be kept “happy among their fellows”, and sheltered from the outside world. By the 90s, institutions like this one (later renamed Kimberley) were overtaken by assisted living.

Series

The Kids From O.W.L.

Television, 1984

The titular kids are a crime-fighting duo of physically-disabled teenagers working for O.W.L. (Organisation for World Liberty) in the battle against the evils of S.L.I.M.E. (Southern Latitude's International Movement for Evil!). With laser beam-firing crutches and computerised wheelchairs at their disposal they inevitably outwit the bumbling crooks. Made in Christchurch, the fondly-remembered kids' show was created by Kim Gabara and screened for two series. Neon alert: Apple aficionados will note the early use of graphics from Apple 2 and Apple 3 computers.  

Smiling Again

Television, 1991 (Full Length)

A law change in the 1980s gave mentally-handicapped children the right to be educated at New Zealand state schools. This 1991 doco examines the pros and cons of mainstreaming special needs children, by looking at the schooling of severely brain-damaged child Jessica Palmer. Teachers both for and against mainstreaming are interviewed, alongside Jessica's parents. Palmer's teacher Sue Dunleavy admits there have been noise issues at times, but thanks to Jessica's presence her classmates have "learnt acceptance and caring and understanding, and it's taken the fear away."

Frank Chilton

Director

Using the power of documentary film Frank Chilton made a difference to the lives of disabled children in New Zealand and around the world. The films he directed for the National Film Unit won many awards and he was honoured by the Queen with an OBE for services to the handicapped.

David Harry Baldock

Director, Producer

After almost two decades of directing and producing documentaries, David Harry Baldock left TVNZ in 1988 to launch Ninox Television. The company’s roster of reality-based programming included export hit Sensing Murder, local award-winner Our People Our Century and nine seasons of Location Location Location. These days Baldock is busy making arts programmes from Shanghai.