NZ On Screen's Chinese in New Zealand Collection contains many pearls — from a run of impressive documentaries, to comedies and dramas that skewer stereotypes and explore relationships across cultures. Identity, family, colliding values and 19th century goldminers all make regular appearances, but they're only part of a far bigger story. Plus check out this backgrounder by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Amy Street is an award-winning series of eight short documentaries. Each tells the story of a resident in a Thames assisted living community for people with intellectual disabilities. Opening the series is Celeste, a superfan of Shortland Street who gets to meet one of her Street idols. Other interviewees include Moyzee, a keen singer who says "labels are on jars and I'm not a jar so you can't label me"; couple Topsy and Dave, who are excited about their upcoming wedding, and Jonathan, a runner who hopes to win a medal at the Special Olympics in Dunedin.
When Malay-Chinese immigrant Bernadine Lim was a child, her teacher made her walk around the classroom so the kids could feel how different her head was. The reporter turned director returns to the screen for this 2007 documentary, to talk to other Kiwi Chinese — including musician Chong Nee and playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle — about their experiences growing up visually and culturally different. Lim also talks to historians about the racism Chinese men encountered when they flocked to Otago goldfields in the 1800s, including having to pay a poll tax.
This wartime propaganda film from the NFU celebrates the role of women in the Air Force. Established in 1941 to free up men for other duties, more than 4,700 women served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during WWII. The film is also a recruitment vehicle. It shows WAAF members in traditional (for the time) roles such as sewing and typing. But more male-dominated jobs are being taken on as women are trained as metal workers, mechanics and drivers. And when they’re not working, the women relax by "knitting, drinking a cup of tea and talking."
This newsreel's subjects include: a camp being built by Lake Karapiro for rowers in the Empire Games, a garden party at St Mary's Home for Children, and a community play area in Naenae (where the sport of "paddle tennis" is featured). Students of Wellington's Architectural Centre build a pine and glass-walled modernist house in Karori, that has bunks and a utility room, "where children can play and Mother can sew". Perhaps most exciting is the demolition by army engineers of Murphy's Brickyard chimney in Berhampore, with children swarming over the fresh rubble.
From The Governor to The Lord of the Rings, Martyn Sanderson's distinctive voice and sideburns were part of New Zealand's screen landscape for three decades. His work ranged from the experimental to the mainstream, including directing feature films (Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree) and personal documentaries.
As longtime presenter of alternative music show Radio With Pictures, Karyn Hay won fame for daring to speak in her own accent. Since leaving the show in the late 80s, Hay has worked on both sides of the microphone, directing music videos, managing radio station Kiwi FM and writing award-winning novel Emerald Budgies.
Barbara Darragh's screen costumes have been worn by ghosts, prostitutes, Māori warriors and Tainuia Kid Billy T James. An award-winner for The Dead Lands, River Queen and The End of the Golden Weather, Darragh's CV includes TV shows Under the Mountain and Greenstone, plus more than a dozen other features. She also runs Auckland costume hire company Across the Board.
Ngila Dickson, ONZM, has designed costumes for vampires, university professors, fertility cults, and wizards in pointy hats. And that's only counting the work she has done for Kiwi filmmakers. Since sharing an Academy Award and a BAFTA for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson has contributed her costume prowess to movies in Japan, Germany, South Africa and Los Angeles.