In the Country

Short Film, 1951 (Full Length)

Long before “country people die on country roads” came this 1951 road safety film targeting rural audiences — specifically children between five and 12. Compared with the carnage of 21st Century road safety campaigns, In the Country is quaint: a traffic safety instructor tests a class to see what lessons that they’ve remembered, and the kids then demonstrate safe crossing, so they can get home in one piece to feed Chalky the horse his carrot. It was filmed at and around Te Marua School near Upper Hutt, and helmed by pioneering National Film Unit director Kathleen O’Brien. 

White for Safety

Short Film, 1952 (Full Length)

This isn't an apartheid manual or minimalist design code, but a 1952 road safety film from the National Film Unit. The film follows 'Mrs White' and 'Mrs Black' leaving their respective homes (on foot) for a bridge evening. Mrs White wears visible clothing and faces the traffic (would a modern colour remake see a Mrs Fluoro?). Mrs Black dresses eponymously and walks with her back to the traffic. Predictable results ensue. Modern viewers who associate such character names with Reservoir Dogs will not be disappointed by the suspenseful denouement.

Russian Roulette - Drink Driving

Commercial, 1982 (Full Length)

Taken from an unflinching anti-drink driving road safety campaign, this 1982 ad was made for the Ministry of Transport by Kiwi ad company Silverscreen. The concept was inspired by controversially imagined scenes in Oscar-winning 1979 Vietnam movie The Deer Hunter, in which US soldiers are forced to play Russian roulette by their Vietcong captors. The idea of equating the risks of drunk driving with Russian roulette has been repeated many times since, including campaigns by advertising agencies in Thailand and Italy.

Legend (Ghost Chips) - Road Safety

Commercial, 2011 (Full Length)

This 2011 anti-drink driving ad campaign became a Kiwi pop cultural phenomenon, spawning countless parodies, memes, t-shirts and over a million YouTube views; phrases from the ad entered the vernacular (“you know I can’t grab your ghost chips”). Eschewing the usual shock and horror tactics, the Clemenger BBDO campaign for the NZ Transport Agency was targeted at young male Māori drivers, and used humour to get the message across that it was choice to stop a mate from driving drunk. Directed by Steve Ayson, it won a prestigious D&AD Yellow Pencil award in 2012.

Loading Docs 2014 - Stop/Go

Web, 2014 (Full Length)

The widescreen vistas of the Mackenzie Country provide the backdrop for this short documentary looking at the challenges and joys of being a traffic management worker. In the tradition of Heartland, the film delivers a warm-hearted combo of character and scenery, as veteran stop/go man Bernie muses on perks: “It’d be nice if someone gave me a winning Lotto ticket, but a Chupa Chup’s not too bad.” Directed by Greg Jennings, Stop/Go was part of Loading Docs: a series of low budget three-minute films made for online release.

NZBC Network News - Daylight Saving Announcement

Television, 1974 (Excerpts)

Summertime daylight saving was reintroduced in New Zealand on a trial basis in 1974, for the first time since 1941. In this NZBC clip newsreader Bill Toft announces that clocks will be put forward one hour on 3 November. Despite concerns — dairy farmers fretting about having to rise in the dark all year; worries about effects on young body clocks, chooks' egg-laying and carpet fade —  the change became permanent in 1975. Citing benefits to recreation and tourism, the Government has since extended the daylight saving period twice, lastly in 2007.

Pedestrians or Jaywalkers?

Short Film, 1952 (Full Length)

This NFU public safety film takes a jaunty approach to a serious subject as it shows road crossing dangers via bad examples. Mis-steps include walking off the footpath carelessly, crossing the road at oblique angles, 'dithering', and over-confidence. The humour may be physical and the narration pun-filled, but the lessons remain relevant, as pedestrian accidents on Wellington's and Auckland's 21st Century city bus lanes attest. Despite the big question promise of the title there is no Socratic dialogue about crossing the road or any consideration of chickens.

The Video Dispatch - 15 December 1983

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

Kids of the 80s will fondly recall this after school current affairs show. Presenter Lloyd Scott was a national celebrity at the time as ‘Scotty’, Barry Crump’s hapless companion in a popular series of ads for Toyota. Items in this last edition for 1983 include traffic safety with radio hosts Lindsay Yeo and Buzz O’Bumble, and the arrival at Auckland Zoo of a pair of Galapagos tortoises (whose faces reporter Jane Dent guesses were inspirations for E.T.). Backed by children from Taita Central School, Scott signs off with ‘Merry Christmas’ in English, Māori and Samoan.

Bryan and Bobby - Twinkle Twinkle Traffic Light

Television, 2013 (Full Length)

Using music to bring home an important message is an age-old technique, used to good effect here by Senior Constable Bryan Ward and Bobby, his talking police dog. Joined by a bunch of enthusiastic kids and members of emergency services, they make some moves while reworking lullaby 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' into a road safety message. Producer and children’s TV icon Suzy Cato is among those making a direct appeal for drivers to slow down on roads, before a final karaoke verse which viewers can sing along to at home.

Too Late to be Sorry

Short Film, 1966 (Full Length)

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.