Film director Roger Donaldson and motor racing legend Steve Millen both began making their mark in New Zealand, before making the move to California. The first Coming Home episode sees them at work in the USA, and visiting old haunts in Aotearoa. Donaldson shoots the effects-heavy Dante's Peak and prepares $100 million thriller Thirteen Days, while Millen hits the race track, in-between running his custom car parts company. Later he returns to the farm near Auckland, where his need for speed began on the family tractor. Donaldson heads to Auckland and Queenstown.
This National Film Unit production was made to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Plunket Society. Plunket — aka ‘Karitane’ — nursing is a New Zealand system of ante-natal and post-natal care for mothers and infants, founded by Sir Truby King: “the man who saved the babies”. Featuring original nurse Joanne MacKinnon, the film follows Plunket from a time of high infant mortality to providing contemporary nursing to a New Zealand flush with postwar optimism: “a family country, where children grow happily in the fresh air and sunshine.”
Entertainment legend Maui Dalvanius Prime rides an emotional roller coaster, as he looks back on his career in this documentary made in the final stages of his battle with lung cancer. The boy from South Taranaki who dreamed of becoming a circus ringmaster became a taonga of the Kiwi music industry, from success in Sydney with The Fascinations, to his groundbreaking kapa haka / te reo hit ‘Poi E’. He recalls his struggle to come to terms with making Māori music, and takes one last hikoi to the East Coast — where he wrote ‘Poi-E’ with the late Ngoi Pēwhairangi.
This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure."
This Pictorial Parade visits the Auckland Athletic Champs at Eden Park, where a water-logged grass track makes the going tough. Peter Snell wins the half-mile and Murray Halberg the three-mile ("you know mother I think he'll win," deadpans the narrator). Then we head to the Bay of Islands for the first Underwater Fishing Champs, where a 235lb stingray is the biggest catch, before the last item on the Turn and Gymnastic Circle of Hamilton, an acrobatic family fundraising for a world tour by scrub-cutting and pie-baking: "no job is too small or too big."
Sailor's Voyage charts the journey of Hello Sailor, the band that ripped up a storm live, made landings in the USA, ran aground and fell apart, then drifted back together again. Interviews with Graham Brazier, Dave McArtney, Harry Lyon and co reveal how the group opened doors for local music, and helped establish a New Zealand touring circuit. Manager David Gapes recalls attempts to get a US record deal, before the cash ran out; the legend of Brazier being asked to join The Doors is explained. The archive footage includes a performance with Doors member Ray Manzarek.
In his matter-of-fact way, James Murray reflects on some of the horrors of the War in the Pacific. Joining the New Zealand Navy at 17, Murray found himself aboard an American destroyer, watching the first atomic bomb explode above Hiroshima. “We thought they’d blown up Japan,” he says. Earlier, aboard HMNZS Gambia, he’d watched Japanese kamikaze planes attempting to sink the aircraft carriers his ship was trying to protect. Later he was among the first to land on the Japanese mainland, helping take control of the Yokosuka Naval Base.
Since first winning fame as lead singer of 60s blues band The Underdogs, Murray Grindlay has gone on to apply his musical talents as a composer for feature films (Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors), veteran jingle-writer (including the classic Crunchie train robbery commercial), and producer (hit single 'Sailing Away', Goldenhorse's Out of the Moon).
Legendary filmmaker Rudall Hayward, MBE, directed seven features over five decades — decades in which the concept of Kiwi movie-making was still an oxymoron, or meant a foreigner was in charge. Inspired by NZ’s cross-cultural history, Hayward remade his own Rewi’s Last Stand in 1940. Later he married Rewi star Ramai Te Miha, launching a filmmaking partnership that lasted until Rudall’s death in May 1974.
Peter Read began his screen career in 1968 at the NZ Broadcasting Corporation, as a trainee editor in his hometown of Christchurch. He decided camera operators had more fun, so after an OE to London and a move to Wellington he became a camera operator. Read worked on a wide variety of shows from lifestyle (Country Calendar) to drama (Cuckoo Land) and commercials. Read passed away on 21 June 2018.