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Mt Raskil Preservation Society

A one-off project, the Mt Raskil Preservation Society was put together to perform 'Bathe in the River', the rousing gospel-inspired number that forms the centrepiece of Don McGlashan's score for Toa Fraser's feature film No. 2. Those accompanying vocalist Hollie Smith include Wellington-based singer Bella Kalolo (on lead backing vocal), Auckland's Jubilation Choir and regular McGlashan collaborators David Long (a former Mutton Bird) and Sean Donnelly (aka SJD). McGlashan recorded his own version of 'Bathe in the River' for his Marvellous Year album.

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Bathe in the River

Mt Raskil Preservation Society, Music Video, 2006

Don McGlashan wrote this rousing secular gospel number for a key scene in No. 2, Toa Fraser's cinematic tribute to the Auckland suburb of Mount Roskill. Beyond the screen it won an APRA Silver Scroll and spent 22 weeks in the charts. That sales success was helped in no small part by this Fraser-directed video which recreates the film's (eventually) joyous, party vibe. Cast and crew gather to watch the fruits of their labours and witness a backyard performance by Hollie Smith, McGlashan and the other members of the Mount Raskil Preservation Society.

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New Zealand Stories - Battle at the Basilica

Television, 2011 (Full Length)

This documentary follows one of the biggest heritage preservation projects in New Zealand history: the fight to save Christchurch’s “other” earthquake damaged cathedral, the Roman Catholic basilica. A team led by a heritage consultant and a structural engineer struggles to keep pace with fresh damage inflicted on the stricken building by ongoing aftershocks. There are hard questions about the venture’s costs. But,as parishioners tell their stories, there’s also a reminder that the basilica isn’t just an architectural treasure — it has been the heart of a community.  

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Alpine Airways

Short Film, 1963 (Full Length)

This 1963 film looks at how the development of high country aviation is taking on the challenges presented by the South Island’s rugged geography. Piloted by war veterans, small aircraft parachute supplies into remote locations for Forest Service hut building and service lighthouses. Meanwhile helicopters and airlines open up opportunities for industry (venison, tourism, forestry, topdressing) and recreation (fishing, hunting). Good keen men, smokos and Swannies abound in this classically-filmed National Film Unit documentary.

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A Flickering Truth

Film, 2015 (Trailer)

When the Taliban attempted to destroy reels upon reels of historic Afghan film, a group of brave archivists hid the films away in a few dusty sheds in the middle of the desert. When German-based Afghani filmmaker Ibrahim Arafy returned to the Middle East to track down and restore the long hidden films, Kiwi filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly joined him, to tell the story of the archive's restoration under immensely trying conditions. Working with unskilled labourers amidst ongoing conflict, Arafy’s team do their best to save an integral part of their nation’s culture.

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Seven Black Robins

Television, 1980 (Full Length)

By 1976 there were only seven Chatham Islands' black robins left. It was the world's rarest bird. In a bid to save the species, the surviving birds are taken from one island to another more hospitable island in a desperate rescue mission. This is part of an incredible conservation success story led by Don Merton and a NZ Wildlife Service team. Along with Black Robin, and The Robin's Return this documentary was one of the acclaimed Wild South series of 'rare bird' documentaries, upon which the formation of TVNZ's Natural History Unit was based.

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Bandits of the Beech Forest

Television, 1996 (Full Length)

The devastating effects of introduced wasps in New Zealand, particularly on kaka (the forest parrot, here beautifully filmed) remain a serious issue. The horde of yellow and black marauders has left scientists struggling to protect animal and human victims. This film looks at the effect on the ecosystem of wasps, who compete with natives for honeydew and prey upon insects. Bandits of the Beech Forest won the Environment Prize for Best Film Illustrating Protection, Preservation or Conservation of Bird Life at the Festival du Film de l'Oiseau.

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Journeys in National Parks: Westland / Aoraki

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

In this episode of the Journeys series, Peter Hayden travels west to east across two national parks and some of New Zealand's most sublime landscapes: from giant, ancient kahikatea forest to hotpools and creaking glaciers. Reflections by ecologist Geoff Park (author of Ngā Uruora) on the coast-to-mountains forest, and the exploits of early surveyor Charlie 'Explorer' Douglas are woven through Hayden's journey, ending with Hayden's personal highlight of the series: climbing Hochstetter Dome with the legendary mountaineer (and Edmund Hillary mentor) Harry Ayres.  

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Journeys in National Parks: Te Urewera

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

In this series celebrating New Zealand's national parks, Peter Hayden travels through some of Aotearoa's most awe-inspiring environments. This episode — looking at the unique spiritual relationship between the Tūhoe people, and the birds and bush of Te Urewera National Park — was directed by Barry Barclay (Ngati). Barclay used his fourth cinema philosophy of indigenous filmmaking, "to tell the contemporary story of the park through their [Tūhoe] eyes". The film attracted controversy for its then exceptional use of te reo. Catherine Bisley writes about the Journeys series here.

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Barry Brickell: Potter

Short Film, 1970 (Full Length)

This upbeat National Film Unit award-winner is about late New Zealand artist, conservationist, and rail enthusiast Barry Brickell. Filmed at his first studio and home in the Coromandel, it follows the progress of his large-scale works from start to finish. Accompanied by a jazzy soundtrack, Brickell works his clay alone in the sun. Amidst the five-finger and harakeke of the Coromandel bush, the making of New Zealand art has never looked more picturesque. Brickell died on 23 January 2016, at the age of 80. The short documentary was made as part of the Pictorial Parade series.