This collection celebrates all things equine on New Zealand screens. Since the early days of the colony, horses have been everything from nation builders (Cobb & Co) to national heroes (Phar Lap, Charisma) to companions (Black Beauty) to heartland icons. Whether work horse, war horse, wild horse, or show pony, horses have become a key part of this (Kiwi) way of life.
This National Film Unit magazine film begins with a choir performing the classic 'Pokarekare Ana' in the acoustically-blessed depths of the Waitomo Caves. The second item involves a visit to a toy factory, deep in preparation for Christmas. Disembodied doll heads fill a bin, while elsewhere factory staff add eyes, and blacken the teeth of rocking horses. There are also teddy bears, electric trains and rows of toy trucks. The narrator explains the joy the toys will bring come Christmas: “a production line to delight children everywhere — fantasy from an industrial Santa Claus”.
“The Barrier’s a hard country, but a very pretty country. Everybody who’s moved out here are individuals.” This presenter-free item from magazine show Weekend heads to the Hauraki Gulf outpost, to meet some rugged individuals. The show travels the unsealed roads (circa 1988) to encounter Hank the motelier, a rock painter, and a pig rider; and drops in to the post office, golf club, and garage barber — plus a hall where rugby, horses and beer are on the dance floor. Weekend won Listener awards for Best Factual series for three years running.
The iconic all-things-rural show is the longest running programme on New Zealand television. With its typical patient observational style (that allows stories of people and the land to gently unfold) it’s an unlikely broadcasting star, but New Zealanders continue, after 50 plus years, to tune in. Amongst the bucolic tales of farming, fishing and forestry, there are high country musters, floods, organic brewing, falconry, tobacco farming, as well as a fencing wire-playing farmer-musician, a radio-controlled dog, and Fred Dagg and the Trevs.
This Coming Home episode introduces two Kiwi "pioneers in their fields": psychologist John Money and horse expert Wayne McIlwraith. Colorado-based McIlwraith works on top racehorses around the globe, then goes climbing on his rare days off. Money was celebrated and criticised for his game-changing work on gender and sexuality. Returning for a visit downunder, he sets about donating his artworks to a museum in Gore. The episode was made soon after doubts were first raised about the success of Money's most famous case of gender reassignment, David Reimer.
From Shihad’s first album Churn, the video for 'Derail' is a dark and unsettling affair, recasting everyday Kiwi pursuits in a tense, almost disturbing manner. It’s directed by ex-Supergroover Joe Fisher (now known as Joe Lonie), who marries their dissonant riffs and twisted time signatures to black and white footage of horse racing and punters at the track. Added to the kiwiana gothic mix is some serious looking gumboot tossing, churches and religious imagery: cows and power pylons, golf, bumper boats, roller coasters and dodgems.
Pioneering poet, author and journalist Robin Hyde was originally Iris Wilkinson. Directed by Tony Isaac (The Governor), this ambitious co-production for television mines quotations from Wilkinson's writing to dramatise her life. In a parallel plotline, a writer, actor and director wrestle with how to capture Iris on screen. For Australian Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock) playing Iris was a privilege — and her "most difficult" role to date. Morse concluded that Iris was "extraordinarily vulnerable emotionally". This excerpt includes a cameo by the writer's real life son Derek Challis.
Shot on Wellington's South Coast, the video stars Academy Award-nominee Taika Waititi (who also directs) as a turquoise headband wearing jogger attempting an eclectic confidence course. Shot in one ducks-in-a-row long take, our hero slays knights, frees prisoners and crosses the finish line into the arms of his lover. And a horse. A splendid example of she'll-be-rightism, the clip is refreshingly lo-fi, makeshift and delightful — and undoubtedly took a lot more than four minutes and 15 seconds to make.
In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.
Andy Anderson began drumming and singing as a Hutt Valley teenager. Since then his diverse trans-Tasman performing career has included playing in rock bands, starring as Sweeney Todd and the Pirate King on-stage — plus more than 50 acting roles on-screen, often playing rogues and diamonds in the rough, in shows from Roche, Gloss and Marlin Bay, to The Sullivans.