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.
It seems a fascination with going fast is built into human DNA. Covering distance in the shortest amount of time has long captured our imagination. From muscle-powered freaks of nature (thoroughbred horses, falcons, Peter Snell) to motorhead mayhem, from Formula 1 legends to front-running design innovation, this collection celebrates the particularly Kiwi 'need for speed'.
This collection of clips from afternoon children's slot Nice One starts with a silent movie-style scene accompanied by the title song as host Stu Dennison larks about Lower Hutt on roller skates, crashes his chopper cycle, and gives his famous thumbs up. Next come a series of jokes, most of them involving Stu facing off in a classroom against a disapproving teacher. For three years in the mid 1970s, the bearded, slightly naughty schoolboy was one of the most beloved characters on local television.
This 1981 promotional short snaps the clapperboard on the National Film Unit’s new filmmaking facilities at Avalon. The Unit had moved from its Miramar birthplace to the Lower Hutt complex in 1978 (it was officially opened on 18 October that year). Narrated by Bob Parker and scored to a funky soundtrack, the film is a guide through NFU production processes. A montage of production scenes is followed by a look at film processing once the film is ‘in the can’. Tricks of the trade depicted include rear projection, film colouring and foley (sound effects).
Billy Graham was a a poor, restless, dyslexic boy from Lower Hutt who was taken under the wing of a boxing coach and became an amateur champion. In 2006 Graham set up his first boxing academy in his home suburb. Now he runs five gyms, training young people to have pride in themselves and their bodies. This 42-minute documentary was directed by award-winner Mark Albiston (The Six Dollar Fifty Man). It follows a group of young Kiwis who have found acceptance and inspiration on the floor at Graham's gym. Billy and the Kids debuted at the 2019 NZ International Film Festival.
This edition of the National Film Unit’s long-running monthly magazine series features a diverse line-up. The first report covers the opening ceremony of the meeting house at Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt, where Prime Minister Walter Nash and Sir Eruera Tirikatene receive the pōwhiri and haka. Then it’s a canter to Auckland’s 1960 Pony Club Championships; before flowing down south for the diversion of the Waitaki River in the Otago town of Otematata, as part of the Benmore hydroelectric scheme: a massive earth dam destined to be the “powerhouse of the South Island”.
Dig This became New Zealand’s first national gardening show when it replaced a series of regional programmes in 1975 (among them Reg Chibnall's long-running Gardening). For 15 minutes, before the Sunday morning soccer highlights, presenter Eion Scarrow (who had honed his skills fronting the Auckland show since 1971) dirtied his hands in a garden created in the grounds of Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt. His advice was no-nonsense, and so was his wardrobe of jerseys, gumboots, overalls and towelling hats. The show allowed many trainee directors to develop their own craft.
This episode of Pictorial Parade, a long-running National Film Unit newsreel series, presents three events: at Mt Bruce, a native bird reserve is opened, the New Zealand Cricket Team’s tour of India is lost 1-0, and Miss World, Ann Sidney (UK), leads the way in fashion at the 1965 Wool Award and Fashion Parade in Lower Hutt. Watch for takahē feeding from the hand, a disconsolate kiwi being held by the Minster of Internal Affairs, Miss Hutt Valley Wool Princess finalists sashaying in the latest fashions, and the New Zealand cricket team sightseeing in India.
This NFU documentary goes behind the scenes as Selwyn Toogood and his team prepare an episode of 50s radio quiz show It's In the Bag, long before it hit the telly. Questions are prepared and booby prizes — epsom salts, toy ducks — selected, before Toogood hits the stage at the Lower Hutt Town Hall to utter the ultimate poser. The big prizes du jour included washing machines and flash (New Zealand-made!) fridge-freezers. The show was so popular with '50s radio audiences it was said cinemas closed their doors on Tuesday nights when it went to air.
All Black Ranji Wilson was 30 when he set off for France to fight with the Rifle Brigade during WWl. When he wasn't involved with trench warfare, his rugby skills were used to full advantage. Wilson vice captained the "Trench Blacks" to win against the French in 1918. After France (where he was injured at the Battle of Havrincourt), Wilson visited South Africa but wasn't allowed to play rugby because he was "coloured". Wilson, whose father was West Indian, became an All Black selector on his return to New Zealand and died in Lower Hutt in 1953.