This 1982 Kaleidoscope report interviews artist Theo Schoon, on his return to New Zealand after a decade in Sydney and Bali. Schoon was a pioneer as a Pākehā engaging with Māori design, melding modernist and Māori motifs (e.g. moko and kowhaiwhai patterns). He discusses his earlier estrangement from the New Zealand art world ("talking to the deaf"), his eight years documenting Māori cave drawings ("art galleries of a sort, art galleries that I'd never been conscious of"), growing and carving gourds, and being inspired by Rotorua’s geothermal activity. Schoon died in 1985.
Aotearoa is the last big land mass on earth discovered and settled by people (orthodox history suggests Māori arrived around 1280). Directed by Mark McNeill, this Greenstone TV documentary examines controversial evidence put forward to claim an alternative pre-Māori settlement — from cave drawings and carvings, to rock formations and statues. Historians, scientists, museum curators, and amateur archaeologists weigh up the arguments, DNA, carbon, and oral stories of the early Waitaha people, to sift hard fact from mysticism and hope.
This Feltex Award-winning documentary dives, abseils and squeezes under the mountain — Mt Arthur in Kahurangi National Park — to record the exploration of the subterranean world of the Nettlebed Cave System. At nearly one kilometre underground the system is New Zealand’s deepest cave, and a mecca for cavers from around the world. The cavers relay their motivations and anxieties as they negotiate the uncharted water-carved limestone labyrinth. Directed by Ian Taylor, it screened in the Lookout series. Claustrophobes beware: there are no lattes at Soft Rock Cafe.
Tama Renata’s memorable theme for Once Were Warriors embedded itself in the New Zealand psyche as much as the line “cook me some eggs”, or the ominous buzzing sounds of the pūrerehua. In this promo clip, the Herbs guitarist takes centre stage as he shreds on a custom stratocaster cast in traditional wood whakairo (carving). The shots of Renata playing are interspersed with iconic scenes from the movie, which launched its takeover of New Zealand cinemas in mid 1994, before screening around the globe. Tama Renata passed away on 4 November 2018.
Auckland-based trio Lucid 3 carved out a name for themselves on student radio after forming in 1999. With their refusal to adhere to a single genre, Lucid 3 have staunchly spurned categorisation on all three of their albums to date, drawing on a wide range of influences, from blues and rock, to pop and folk - and at times throwing in trip-hop for good measure. The album All Moments Leading To This helped broaden their appeal from the B-nets to commercial radio.
Cliff Curtis alternates a busy diet of acting in the United States (where he's forged a reputation as the actor to call on, for roles of varied ethnicity) with smaller scale New Zealand projects — including co-producing Taika Waititi smash Boy. His CV of Kiwi classics includes playing Pai's father in Whale Rider, Uncle Bully on Once Were Warriors, and bipolar chess champion Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
The CV of editor Jeff Hurrell splices TV documentaries — often alongside director Bryan Bruce — with a run of short films, including 2011 award-winner Lambs. The short film work lead to him editing debut features for directors Jason Lei Howden and Paul Campion, Deathgasm and The Devil’s Rock. Hurrell also cut the high profile Born to Dance, and runs Wellington production house Martin Square.
Ernie Leonard spent time as a soldier, a railways clerk and public relations officer. His first television job was as an actor on Pukemanu, and he became a household name co-presenting wrestling show On the Mat. In 1986 Leonard became the first head of TVNZ's Māori Programmes Department. When he retired, a search of the TVNZ Archives database yielded 38,000 references to him or programmes he'd been associated with.
New Zealand born and raised, but better known for his work in Australia and the US, Alan Dale began his screen career with Kiwi soap Radio Waves. After eight years as patriarch Jim Robinson on Australia's Neighbours he was later cast in hit US show The OC and he established himself as the man to call for business magnates and authority figures: his CV includes 24, Ugly Betty, Lost, and Once Upon a Time.