This 1950 documentary about early primary school education was made by pioneering female director Margaret Thomson, who rated it her favourite NZ work. The survey of contemporary educational theory examines the new order in 'infant schooling' (though some things never change, like tadpoles and tidy up time). It is broken into sections: ‘Play in the Infant School’, ‘Doing and Learning’, ‘Learning to Read’, ‘Number Work’ and ‘Living and Learning’. The National Film Unit doco was made for the Department of Education. Douglas Lilburn composed the score.
Anne and Gordon left high school unable to read or write to a basic level. This documentary follows their progress with the Auckland Adult Literacy Scheme, and culminates with the pair sitting the written and oral exam for their drivers' licence. Anne found innovative ways around the kids' bedtime stories, but froze when it came to filling in forms. Gordon has been driving illegally for years; he wants to ace his drivers' test and finds an acceptance within the Adult Literacy Scheme he never did at school. The First Hand series has a stripped back style, using small cameras and crews.
In the early 1960s two North Island schools — Oruaiti and Hay Park — experimented with an innovative method of practical education. This episode of Survey sees principal Elwyn Richardson revisiting Oruaiti, and reminiscing on how the two schools functioned. He offers his views on traditional textbook learning — the more “American” system, as he calls it. Ex students reflect on their time at the school, and how an education based on arts, building and play shaped the people they’ve become. Modern schooling in Aotearoa now follows the example set in those early days.
This 1976 TV2 report covers the launch of Gordon McLauchlan’s book Passionless People in Eketahuna, a town he had derided in newspaper columns as an epicentre of New Zealand conformity. Within the book’s pages the author infamously called Kiwis "smiling zombies" – lazy, smug, and a bunch of moaners. McLauchlan bravely visits the local pub, and stands in front of the 'hot pies' sign to muse about sexuality. Ex-All Black Brian Lochore is MC at the launch, where McLauchlan is put on mock trial in stocks at the town hall. Passionless People was a runaway best seller.
Recut from material shot at least five years before, this National Film Unit short appears to have been driven by the Tourist and Publicity Department. Coming in for praise are New Zealand’s primary exports (farm products), road and railways, and social security. In the 50s long distance air links were opening NZ up to the world but international tourism was not a major industry, and NZ was focused firmly on agriculture. People are shown farming, “a little unsmiling” on city streets, and at play (fishing, sailing and skiing). Kids drink milk and Māori are assimilating.
This post-war film was made to showcase New Zealand to UK audiences. Directed by Michael Forlong, the NFU film is a booster’s catalogue of contemporary NZ life. The message is that NZ is a modern pastoral paradise: open for business but welfare aware. Nature is conquered via egalitarian effort; air and sea links overcome the tyranny of distance; and science informs primary industry. Māori are depicted assimilating into the Pākehā world. Sport, suburbia and scenic wonder are touted, and an NZSO performance shows that the soil can grow culture as well as clover.
A lover of gardens from childhood with a diploma in horticulture, Maggie Barry spent four years on the news frontline as co-host of National Radio’s Morning Report from 1986 to 1989. As presenter of TV hit Maggie’s Garden Show she was the face of NZ gardening for 12 years. After time in freelance journalism and radio she was elected MP for North Shore in 2011, and became a cabinet minister in 2014.
Barney Blackfoot (Ian Watkin) is a mean stepfather who married Billy and Lucy's mother under false pretenses, later revealing his evil nature. Barney is helped in his exploits by his friend (a moving wardrobe), and together they set out to destroy Lucy and Billy's happy home. Designed in soft sculpture (Cabbage Patch Kids style) and filmed in live action with special effects, this Yvonne Mackay-directed short film is aimed at children and is without dialogue or narration. The early Gibson Group film was scripted by Ian Mune and scored by Jack Body.
Mātai Smith began his screen career reporting on Marae. He was a long-running host of pioneering te reo children's show Pūkana and later co-hosted breakfast TV staple Good Morning (where he introduced te reo, and was hypnotised). Smith fronted popular Māori TV talent quest Homai Te Pakipaki, winning Best Presenter at the 2012 NZ TV Awards. He is currently Native Affairs’ Australian correspondent.
Stephen Stehlin has been involved with flagship Pacific show Tagata Pasifika for over 30 years. Alongside Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga, he launched SunPix in 2015. The company took over Tagata Pasifika after Television New Zealand outsourced its stable of Māori and Pacific programmes. Of Samoan descent, Stehlin has been honoured as both a Samoan matai chief, and as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.