Long before Ghost Chips, even before "don't use your back like a crane", life in Godzone was fraught with hazards. This collection shows public safety awareness films spanning from the 50s to the 70s. If there's kitsch enjoyment to be had in the looking back (chimps on bikes?!) the lessons remain timeless. Remember: It's better to be safe than sorry.
A jandal-shod journey through Kiwi pop culture. Kiwiana takes a light-hearted look at the fashion, art, architecture, attitudes, and icons (Buzzy Bees, Edmonds, Swanndri, Pavlova etc) we call our own. Directed by Shirley Horrocks, and shot by Leon Narbey, it featured personalities Gary McCormick, Ginette McDonald, John Clarke, Peter Jackson, and others. Screening at a time (1996) when New Zealanders were just beginning to appreciate these neglected everyday objects as ‘collectibles,' it rated highly, and inspired a sequel, Kiwi As.
This doco looks at the relationship between dogs and shepherds in Kiwi sheep farming. It covers the history of dog and man, and reveals Dog Show-worthy secrets behind the dogs' training and personalities, from ‘heading dogs' who stare sheep (and geese!) "into submission" to the "loudmouth" ‘huntaways' who drive flocks on vast high country stations. This Swanndri-saturated doco is shot, scored and narrated in an old-fashioned Disney style (shepherds are "the very substance of romance"). As the title states, the canines are the stars.
The work of artist John Reynolds takes in painting, photography, clothing, tattooing and landscaping. Shirley Horrocks frames this Artsville documentary as a series of questions. The answers reflect Reynold's exuberant personality, his strong family life, his sense of humour, and his adventurous art-making. Following a year in Reynolds' life, the film observes him as he makes and debuts a big painting (Cloud) at the 2006 Biennale of Sydney, works on large-scale outdoor works, redesigns a swanndri, and takes time out to appear in an episode of bro'Town.
This 1963 film looks at how the development of high country aviation is taking on the challenges presented by the South Island’s rugged geography. Piloted by war veterans, small aircraft parachute supplies into remote locations for Forest Service hut building and service lighthouses. Meanwhile helicopters and airlines open up opportunities for industry (venison, tourism, forestry, topdressing) and recreation (fishing, hunting). Good keen men, smokos and Swannies abound in this classically-filmed National Film Unit documentary.
This short film follows a teenage hitchhiker (Aaron McGregor) in search of his birth mother. The apprehension of the journey is heightened when he gets picked up by a mean-looking Māori (Calvin Tuteao) with a swastika tattooed on his face. The boy's great expectations wind up being realised in different ways than he might have imagined. The dramatic debut from actor-director Matthew Saville, Hitch Hike thumbed a ride to international festivals, from Tampere to Durban; the “emotionally engaging” film was selected for website Short of the Week in August 2014.
Made for the Forest Service by the National Film Unit this instructional film demonstrates essential firearms safety. Like later cautionary tales (eg. cult bush safety film Such a Stupid Way to Die) the film dramatises what can happen when things go wrong, before a hunter imparts "the five basic safety rules" (with obligatory ciggie hanging from lower lip). The rendering of the lesson might be hokey (compared to the explicit traffic safety ads of the '90s and '00s) but the message is deadly serious, as ongoing hunting tragedy headlines attest.
New Zealand's unique accent is often derided across the dutch for its vowel-mangling pronunciation ("sex fush'n'chups", anyone?) and being too fast-paced for tourists and Elton John to understand. In this documentary Jim Mora follows the evolution of New Zealand English, from the "colonial twang" to Billy T James. Linguist Elizabeth Gordon explains the infamous HRT (High Rising Terminal) at the end of sentences, and Mora interprets such phrases as "air gun" ("how are you going?"). Lynn of Tawa also features, in an accent face-off with Sam Neill and Judy Bailey.
This posthumous series — produced by Ginette McDonald — collects segments from Billy T’s long running skit based comedy series. Some of his most cherished creations are here: the giggling Te News newsreader, Cuzzy in his black shorts, and the chief bemused by Captain Cook. Support comes from a seasoned cast including Peter Rowley, David Telford and Roy Billing (with cameos from Bob Jones and Barry Crump). Some of these skits are essentially elaborate setups for one line jokes but Billy T’s infectious warmth and good humour inevitably carry the day.
A Swanndri clad Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne) goes back to nature in this video directed by Stephen Ballantyne and shot at Arthur's Pass in Canterbury. A 60s tinged number from his first solo album, 'Talk about the Good Times' is a scathing dismissal of a former friendship anchored in an urban setting of gyms, box shaped apartments and expensive coffee. Fresh air, the bush, the wide open spaces of the river bed and Greg Chapman's Disney-esque animated animals make for a pastoral idyll to counteract the falseness and paranoia of city life.