This 1972 documentary explores the world of a dying generation of Māori female elders or kuia — “the last of the Māori women with tattooed chins”. The film pays tribute to the place of the kuia in Māori culture, and of wahine tā moko. Among those on screen are 105-year old Ngahuia Hona, who cooks in hot pools, rolls a cigarette, and eats with whānau, and “the oldest Māori” Nga Kahikatea Wirihana, who remembers the Battle of Ōrākau during the land wars, and has outlived four husbands. Into Antiquity was an early documentary from veteran director Wayne Tourell.
Recut from material shot at least five years before, this National Film Unit short appears to have been driven by the Tourist and Publicity Department. Coming in for praise are New Zealand’s primary exports (farm products), road and railways, and social security. In the 50s long distance air links were opening NZ up to the world but international tourism was not a major industry, and NZ was focused firmly on agriculture. People are shown farming, “a little unsmiling” on city streets, and at play (fishing, sailing and skiing). Kids drink milk and Māori are assimilating.
In the 1960s, parody songs like 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' and 'Pūha and Pākehā' were big hits for singer Rod Derrett. Un-PC lyrics such as "I don’t give a hāngī for the Treaty of Waitangi / You can’t get fat on that – give me some pūha and Pākehā" struck a popular chord, but were also subversive. Here the latter song is illustrated in a segment for popular NZBC Sunday show Looking at New Zealand. A Pākehā tourist who falls into a mud pool becomes an impromptu boil-up. The song (and some of the Looking at NZ footage) were rereleased in 2012 to promote cannibal comedy Fresh Meat.
In this episode of the Journeys series, Peter Hayden travels west to east across two national parks and some of New Zealand's most sublime landscapes: from giant, ancient kahikatea forest to hotpools and creaking glaciers. Reflections by ecologist Geoff Park (author of Ngā Uruora) on the coast-to-mountains forest, and the exploits of early surveyor Charlie 'Explorer' Douglas are woven through Hayden's journey, ending with Hayden's personal highlight of the series: climbing Hochstetter Dome with the legendary mountaineer (and Edmund Hillary mentor) Harry Ayres.