The Truth about Tangiwai

Television, 2002 (Excerpts)

On Christmas Eve 1953 a volcanic eruption caused a massive lahar to flow down Whangaehu River. The Wellington-Auckland express crossed the rail bridge at Tangiwai minutes later; it collapsed, and carriages plunged into the flooded river. Out of 285 people, 151 died, in New Zealand's worst rail accident. This 2002 documentary examines events and the board of inquiry finding that the accident was an act of God. This excerpt attacks the story that Cyril Ellis could have warned the train driver what lay ahead, and argues there was a railways department cover-up at the board of inquiry. 

Collection

Kiwi Ingenuity

Curated by NZ On Screen team

'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.

All Blacks Invincibles Tour

Short Film, 1925 (Full Length)

This silent 16mm gem shows two legendary All Black teams in action. The film opens with a roll-call of the returning ‘Invincibles’, who — starring fullback George Nepia — were unbeaten on their international tour of 1924/5; and then features match highlights. The second clip opens with rare footage of the 1905 ‘Originals’; before returning to packed 1925 Twickenham for a test match, where the Invincibles perform “the famous Māori War Cry”, show off the Kiwi mascot (intended as a gift for the first team to beat them), meet the Prince of Wales, and defeat England. 

A Dolphin's Story

Short Film, 1974 (Full Length)

This is an NFU account of a 1970 mission to find, net, and train a Bottlenose dolphin for Marineland in Napier. Informative narration scores the hunt as veteran whaler Joe Perano helps two staff search the Marlborough Sounds. Soon, a pod of "submarine surfers" ride the ship's bow, and a young female is dramatically netted (to her mother's distress). A truck ride and flight later she is swimming in her new marine park home. A year on 'Pelorus Jill' makes her public debut, performing spectacular 12 foot leaps and beaching for a tummy scratch from her trainer.

Ralph Hotere

Short Film, 1974 (Full Length)

Directed by Sam Pillsbury, this 1974 film observes Ralph Hotere — one of New Zealand’s greatest artists — at a moment when excitement is gathering about his work. Lauded as a “classic” by Ian Wedde, the documentary is framed around the execution of a watershed piece: a large mural Hotere was commissioned to paint for Hamilton’s Founders Theatre. Interviews with friends and associates — poets Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire, art critics, officials and dealers — are intercut with fascinating shots of Hotere working (including making art by photocopying or 'xerography').

Fran Walsh

Writer, Producer

Fran Walsh is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, film producer and musician. She has collaborated with her partner Peter Jackson on all his films since Meet the Feebles (1989), and was nominated for her first Oscar after co-writing Heavenly Creatures (1994). In 2004, Walsh shared three Oscar wins for her work on the final episode of the Lord of the Rings.

Bernard Kearns

Actor, Presenter

The distinctive deep voice of Bernard Kearns was heard in living rooms and cinemas for at least a quarter century. He acted in 70s classics The God Boy and Sleeping Dogs — playing the Prime Minister — and was the presenter of early archive history series The Years Back. Kearns passed away on 21 March 2017.

Janet Roddick

Composer

Janet Roddick is a member of Plan 9, a musical collective whose CV includes composing 20+ features and over 130 hours of television. Roddick first sang alongside David Donaldson and Steve Roche in celebrated band Six Volts, before the three formed Plan 9 in the early 90s. Their list of soundtrack awards includes gongs for Predicament, Perfect Strangers, and Saving Grace. Roddick has also acted on stage and screen.

Tony Barry

Actor

Tony Barry's gravel voice won Kiwi fame when he starred in 1981 hit Goodbye Pork Pie. By then he already had 30 plus screen credits — including cult 70s sitcom Buck House, and the anarchic Blerta TV series. Barry's busy acting career continues both in his native Australia, and New Zealand. In 2010 he won a Qantas Best Actor Award for his starring role in Gaylene Preston's war tale Home by Christmas.

David Donaldson

Composer

David Donaldson is one third of Plan 9, a musical collective whose CV of soundtracks includes short films, 20+ features, and over 130 hours of television. Donaldson and colleagues Janet Roddick and Steve Roche all played in celebrated band Six Volts. Since then they have won multiple soundtrack awards, including for films Predicament and Perfect Strangers.  Donaldson also plays in Thrashing Marlin and The Labcoats.