The Beginner’s Guide to Prisons

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

Broadcaster Ian Johnstone was an intrepid explorer for TVNZ's 80s Beginner's Guide documentary series; the series embedded personal guides to lift the veil on everything from marae protocol to the Freemasons. This edition sees a crime (embezzlement of TVNZ money) pinned to 47-year-old Johnstone by the CIB and so begins his (fictional) experience of judicial process and imprisonment. A humbled Johnstone aims to convey what life behind bars is like, and bust some myths en route, from "they only serve half their time don’t they?" to "it's like a four star hotel".

The Confessions of Prisoner T

Television, 2013 (Excerpts)

In 1994, Teina Pora was found guilty of the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. He spent 22 years behind bars despite physical evidence implicating someone else, and concerns over the reliability of Pora's confession. In this Māori Television documentary, director Michael Bennett examines the case against Pora, and private investigator Tim McKinnel's belief in his innocence. This excerpt includes footage from Pora’s original police interview and a visit where he fails to identify Burdett’s house. In 2015 the Privy Council quashed Pora's conviction

The Gravy - Series Four, Episode 11 (Prisons)

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of The Gravy takes an in-depth look at art in prisons. Host Warren Maxwell interviews inmates who have embraced painting or carving while serving time in Mt Eden, Paremoremo and Rimutaka prisons. At Rimutaka, art tutor Paul Bradley points out that art is a vehicle for change both for prisoners and the art audience, and former prisoners talk about how art has changed their lives for the better. Outside the walls, Warren visits at a caged exhibit of musical instruments at Artspace in Auckland and plays a few bars on the flute.

Collection

A Tribute to Kevin Smith

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Actor Kevin Smith could do it all; from brooding like Brando in a Tennessee Williams play, through Xena, to the gentle romantic lead of Double Booking, and self-parody in Love Mussel. Collected here are selections from a career cut short (he died in a 2002 film-set accident). Plus tributes from James Griffin, Michael Hurst, Geoffrey Dolan and Simon Prast. 

Collection

The Don McGlashan Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Don McGlashan has played drums, horns, guitars and PVC pipes, created memorable songs with Blam Blam Blam, The Mutton Birds and as a solo artist, and won a run of awards for his soundtrack work. As Nick Bollinger puts it in this backgrounder, his songs are good for occasions big and small. 

An Inside Story

Television, 1998 (Full Length)

In this 1998 documentary, made for TV3’s Inside New Zealand slot, prisoners provide straight-talking descriptions of life on the inside. Collectively rejecting any idea of prison as a soft option, they talk about missing sunlight, closing up emotionally, and how even “the staunchest” end up crying. One long-timer argues that imprisonment is an expected part of becoming a gang member. Statistics provide food for thought about the life cycle of criminality — 78 per cent of inmates have no school qualifications; 80 per cent were abused as children.

Songs from The Inside - Series Three, Episode One

Television, 2015 (Full Length Episode)

This acclaimed Māori Television series saw Kiwi musicians teaching bars behind bars — working with prisoners to compose and record songs, drawn from their life experiences. In this opening episode from the third season, Anika Moa, Ladi6, Scribe and Troy Kingi head to Christchurch’s men’s and women’s prisons. For Moa, Ladi6 and Scribe, Christchurch is their "music whakapapa". For Scribe it is a reminder of earthquake tragedy. The jail itself revives memories of childhood visits to his father (an upbringing which the two explored in 2015 play The White Guitar).

First Hand - Sister to the Sinner

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

For 10 years Sister Joan Timpany served as the Catholic chaplain at Paremoremo Prison, where the country's most dangerous criminals are incarcerated. The cheerful nun is interviewed in this First Hand documentary by new director Leanne Pooley (Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls). Prisoners adore Sister Joan; many call her a mother figure. An inmate called Julian performs a song he wrote for her, with the lyrics: "There’s no other here to listen, I can always count on her to be a friend." Sister Joan was awarded the Queen's Service Order in 1993 for her community service. She died in 2006.

Winners & Losers: A Lawful Excuse

Television, 1976 (Full Length)

This episode of anthology series Winners & Losers takes a fresh angle on going straight. Smooth-talking criminal Mick (Ian Mune) dreams of starting over, by cultivating mushrooms with cellmate Charlie (Coronation Street's Ivan Beavis). Charlie claims to have committed a lawful murder, thanks to a technicality. In an inspired change to Barry Crump's original story, Mick commandeers a bus to finance the pair's plan. Crump praised the episode, but felt that Mick and Charlie treat their third cellmate unfairly. Director Roger Donaldson cameos in a red Swanndri during the bus scenes.

Dog Squad - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 2011 (Full Length Episode)

This long-running series tails working dogs and their handlers, who are helping protect New Zealand’s streets, borders, prisons and national parks. This opening episode of the second season sees dog squad member Dan "come a cropper", while chasing thieves; one prison visitor leaves with an unusual gift from inside (while other visitors are worried about their drugs from the night before); and Auckland Airport sniffer dogs snuff out some unwanted imports. Dog Squad's first two seasons were produced by Cream Media, shortly before the company was taken over by Greenstone TV.