New Zealand's relationship with Antarctica and the explorers and scientists who went there is the focus of this episode in The Years Back series, with Bernard Kearns as guide. Early last century NZ was the starting point for most polar expeditions, including Robert Falcon Scott's fatal attempt to reach the Pole. Footage of Scott on the ice is featured, and as well as clips of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic survival tale. Of course the Sir Edmund Hillary-led 50s Kiwi expedition is shown: Hillary made a defiant dash for the Pole on tractors, arriving 4 January 1958.
'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.
Laurie Clarke began his career in 1983, as an editor for Australia’s ABC. Back home for the birth of TV3, he later spent nine years directing and producing for news show 20/20. Clarke is currently a company director at Top Shelf Productions; his list of credits includes Target, What's Really in Our Food, Making New Zealand, Heritage Rescue, and long-running media commentary show Media Take.
Peter Janes has been capturing images of NZ — and its musicians — for longer than some of his camera assistants have been on the planet. Through Janes' diverse screen career, music forms a major thread. After directing his first music videos as a teen, he went on to helm iconic clips for many Flying Nun bands. Janes has also been director of photography on TV's Jackson’s Wharf and The Topp Twins.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
Tom Bradley is the proverbial man of many skills. Best known for his 25 year stint as a television newsreader (including on Feltex award-winner News at Ten), Bradley has also done time as a pirate radio DJ, media coach and singer. His writing work includes dozens of scripts for animated series Buzz and Poppy, and more than 20 books for children and young adults.
With Hunter's Gold, Gather Your Dreams and Children of Fire Mountain, Roger Simpson blazed a successful trail for Kiwi drama shows aimed at a younger audience. Though he has written further New Zealand projects, Simpson relocated to Australia in the early 70s. Since then he has written and produced on a long run of television dramas, most often alongside producing partner Roger Le Mesurier.