It was a Kiwi that invented the jet-boat, so it is probably unsurprising that at the time of this film’s production New Zealand teams had won Mexico's Rio Balsas Marathon three times. Directed by Derek Wright, the award-winning NFU doco showcases what was then the longest jet-boat race yet staged: a five-day 1000km race across NZ, with the locals putting their trophy on the line. The race hits the rapids and — despite the odd tree stump — speeds past scenery on six rivers (from the Whanganui to the Waimakariri), Lake Brunner, and through the surf to Sumner Beach.
This 1968 segment from an early Sunday night magazine show provides light-hearted visuals for a classic Kiwi song. Though written by Rod Derrett as a parody, 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' became an unofficial national anthem of the 60s, where it was an icon of the Kiwi male's recreational trio of choice. The clip takes the perspective of a "little shaver" being educated in his national heritage by various footy-playing, boozing'n'betting paternal role models (aka blokes afflicted with 'Kiwiitis'). The early New Zealand music video finishes with scenes of packed terraces at Athletic Park.
This early short from The Most Fun You Can Have Dying director Kirstin Marcon follows a driver (Sophia Hawthorne) in the aftermath of a car crash. She — almost — pulls a badly-injured victim from wreckage in rugged bush and tends to him, but behaves strangely when another motorist arrives. The film presents shards of the relationship between victim and 'rescuer', but never enough to undercut the effectively mysterious tone; metallic blues and greens flavour the film’s unexpected moral code. She's Racing won a Silver Plaque at Chicago Film Festival (2000).
Tamatoa the Brave Warrior follows the adventures of a young Māori adventurer and his talkative pals Moko (the tuatara), Manu (the moa) and Kereru (the kereru). In this episode Tamatoa's chances of entering the great river race look dim after Aunty Hana forces him to guard the kumara patch instead. Tamatoa reluctantly obeys, and finds himself caught up battling some crazed pukeko who want to use the kumara as a rugby ball. There may still be time to race... The series of ten minute episodes was created by the prolific Flux Animation Studios.
Australian producer Antony Ginnane brought this $6 million romp to New Zealand, after Aussie union Actors Equity objected to the four lead roles going to foreigners. Deer hunting heroes Donald Pleasance (Halloween) and Ken Wahl (six years before becoming TV's Wise Guy) race around in helicopters and jet boats, after discovering a half-sunken WWll plane. This opening excerpt indicates the film's mixture of action, comedy and Southern scenery. Zephyr helped establish Aotearoa's reputation as a place to film; Ginnane and Kiwi John Barnett produced further projects together.
This excerpt from a 1962 edition of the National Film Unit's magazine film series features reigning Olympic 800m champion Peter Snell participating in a charity road race on Auckland streets. "Any one of 20 charities stands to make a hundred pounds as 20 roadsters hot-foot it around Auckland's Top o' the Town course." Roadsters also include Bill Baillie and Barry Magee. National hero Snell is in the bunch early on, but coming down a crowded and wet Karangahape Road he is of course, "the man to watch".
Occasional Heartland host Kerre Woodham visits the annual Easter races at Riverton in Southland. Riverton is New Zealand's second oldest town, and the close knit locals have a big passion for horse-racing. Woodham talks to owners, trainers (one of them at his freezing works job), jockeys and punters, as well as the judges of 'Best Dressed Lady at the Races', who are looking for a nice line in matching hats, bags, shoes and gloves. The documentary contains some good examples of the Southland rolled 'r' from some of the locals who are interviewed.
This TVNZ documentary captures the early days of NewstalkZB, shortly after Radio New Zealand gambled on relaunching it with an all talk format. Previous breakfast host Merv Smith has taken most of his audience to rival Radio i; his replacement is Paul Holmes. The former king of the Wellington airwaves is soon grappling to make an impact in Auckland. Competition amongst the stations is cut-throat, but Holmes is the focal point here. He’s under pressure and surrounded by a battery of often conflicting opinions. By 1988 he'd hauled the show from ninth to second in the ratings.
Chris Stapp and Matt Heath's adept manipulation of miniatures combined with the band's nihilistic performances make for one of NZ's most hilarious (albeit puerile) music clips. Depictions of drug inhalation and drinking while driving, along with violent confrontations with the law, only add to the tongue-in-cheek Back of the Y establishment-baiting that a generation of bogans, students and boy racers has come to know and love.
It seems a fascination with going fast is built into human DNA. Covering distance in the shortest amount of time has long captured our imagination. From muscle-powered freaks of nature (thoroughbred horses, falcons, Peter Snell) to motorhead mayhem, from Formula 1 legends to front-running design innovation, this collection celebrates the particularly Kiwi 'need for speed'.