In 1865, Wellington became the Kiwi capital. In the more than 150 years since, cameras have caught the rise and fall of storms, buildings, and MPs, and Courtenay Place has played host to vampires and pool-playing priests. Wind through our Wellington Collection to catch the action, and check out backgrounders by musician Samuel Scott and broadcaster Roger Gascoigne.
These excerpts from part one of Tom Scott’s award-winning series on the life of Edmund Hillary look at his early years. Ed reflects on his youth as a gangly Auckland Grammar student, beekeeping, and a school trip to Ruapehu that sparked a “fiery enthusiasm” for alpine adventure. Coupled with a young man’s frustration with his “miserable, uninteresting life”, this passion for the hills soon led to a solo ascent of Mount Tapue-o-Uenuku as an RNZAF cadet — famously climbed on a weekend’s leave from Woodbourne base— and a 1947 ascent of Mount Cook, with his mentor Harry Ayres.
The enormous significance to Māori of marae, as places of belonging where ritual and culture can be preserved, is explored in this Pita Turei-directed documentary. Made in conjunction with the NZ Historic Places Trust, it chronicles the programme to restore marae buildings and taonga around the country — and the challenge of maintaining the tribal heritages expressed in them. As well as visiting some of NZ's oldest marae, one of the newest also features — Tapu Te Ranga, in Wellington’s Island Bay, which is being built from recycled demolition wood.
This NFU mini-biopic eulogises the 19th Century Māori leader Te Rauparaha. The Ngāti Toa chief led his people on an exodus from Kāwhia, to a stronghold on Kāpiti Island where he reigned — via musket, flax trade and diplomacy — over a Cook Strait empire extending south to Akaroa. The free-ranging film includes recreations of the 'Wairau Incident' (that stirred fears of Māori uprising amidst settlers); Te Rauparaha’s ignominious 1846 arrest by Governor Grey; and the 1849 reburial on Kapiti of the "cannibal statesman" (evocatively rendered using inverted colours).
In this cult surf film — this excerpt is the first seven minutes — Andrew McAlpine gets in the Chevy, chucks the longboard on the roof and follows a group of pioneering riders on a mission around New Zealand and Australian coastlines, from Piha to Noosa. Filmed from 1965 - 1967, the Kiwi Endless Summer evoked a laid-back era where the ride was the prize. The classic surfing scenes — some filmed from an onboard camera housed in a DIY perspex case — are scored to surf rock and interspersed with sunburnt, bikini-clad relics of 60s beach culture.
This documentary looks at the attempts by New Zealand's small towns to attract attention: ranging from giant statues of fish, fruit, and soft-drink bottles to festivals devoted to local vegetables or wild food. Actress Miranda Harcourt travels from Paeroa to Alexandra to explore the colourful expressions of small-town identity and pride. Shot by Leon Narbey, this was one of a series of documentaries directed by Shirley Horrocks about kiwi popular culture. A book by Claudia Bell and John Lyall (with the same title) was the film's starting-point.
Renowned landscape photographer, publisher and conservationist Craig Potton takes viewers up New Zealand rivers in this South Pacific Pictures series, made for Prime TV. Each episode focused on a significant Aotearoa waterway, and the ecology and people connected with it. Episodes featured the Clutha River in the deep south, Clarence River near Kaikoura, Rangitata River in Canterbury, Mokihinui River on the South Island's west coast, and Waikato River in the central North Island. The Rangitata episode won Potton Best Documentary Script at the 2011 SWANZ Awards.
Tiki Taane spent 11 years helping provide the deep trench Kaikoura rhythms of Salmonella Dub, before going it alone in 2007. Distancing himself from dub, his rebirth on debut solo album Past, Present and Future saw Taane embracing his roots, with traditional Māori instrumentation and underlying hip hop and funk prominent on staunch statements like 'Tangaroa'. Past, Present and Future surged to number one, and single 'Always on My Mind' lingered in the charts for 40 weeks, including two weeks at the top.
On 10 April 1968 the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine ran aground and sank at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Fifty-three people died as a result of the accident, 51 on the day. These news features include aerial footage of the ship after the storm, and NZBC reporters conducting dramatic interviews with survivors, police and the head of the Union Steam Ship Company. Coverage was only seen by mainlanders after a cameraman rushed to Kaikoura and filmed a TV set that could receive a signal from Wellington, then returned to Christchurch so the footage could be broadcast.
One shaggy dog, dozens of humans, and a smorgasbord of Kiwi scenery: viewers were glued to the screen for this TV One promotional campaign, which began screening in August 1991. The six-part promo followed a lovable sydney silky poodle cross travelling the country by car, train and paw. En route, roughly 50 Kiwis make blink and you'll miss it appearances: including sporting figures, local townspeople, and 20+ TV personalities (see backgrounder for more info, and clues on who is who). The popular promos were directed by Lee Tamahori, before he made Once Were Warriors.