Packed with creatures and landscapes that quite simply boggle the mind, the Nature Collection showcases New Zealand's impressive menagerie of nature and wildlife films. Many of the titles were made by powerhouse company NHNZ, which began around 1977 as the Natural History Unit, a small, southern outpost of state television. In this backgrounder, Peter Hayden — who had a hand in more than a few of these classic films — guides viewers through just what the Nature Collection has to offer.
In 2014 Ngāi Tūhoe completed construction on Te Uru Taumatua, a sustainable ‘living building’ built entirely out of materials sourced from Tūhoe land. Ever the Land captures the construction of the building, from its initial design stages through to its opening, and explores the history and values reflected in its design. Premiering at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival, Ever the Land is the debut feature as director for German-born editor Sarah Grohnert.
Journalist Kim Webby's Price of Peace is a portrait of Tūhoe activist Tame Iti, whose family Webby has known for 20 plus years. After the 2007 police raids, Iti was one of four to go on trial, accused of plotting terrorist activities. Webby’s film ranges widely from early land grievances to modern-day jail cells — and a police apology. NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder praised the result for balancing a personal focus on Iti, with “a powerfully affecting” examination of the 2007 raids, which placed the raids in "the wider context of Tūhoe history and the process of reconciliation”.
This “best of” episode from Māori TV’s long-running te reo food show revisits stories that presenter Peter Peeti has shot throughout the North Island. It‘s a celebration of food harvested from the land, rivers and sea, ranging from stingrays on the East Coast and the Tūhoe Wild Food Festival at Waimana, to goat hunting in Taranaki and fishing on Parengarenga Harbour. Peeti’s korero with the people of the land is equally important, and his giggle is worthy of Billy T. Recipes include mussel fritters, baked hapuka, venison casserole and curried snapper.
This documentary presents insight into the man most New Zealanders know as the Māori radical with a moko. Delving beyond the sensational headlines, it presents Tame Iti in the context of his whānau and beliefs. Iti tells his own story: from growing up in his beloved Urewera, and his role in organisation Ngā Tamatoa, to heroes (Rua Kenana, Che Guevara), moko, match-making and a late-starting art career. Iti’s children reflect on an activist father who “is a kid at heart”. Chelsea Winstanley's documentary screened on TV2, before Iti’s arrest during the infamous 2007 ‘Urewera raids’.
This 1997 Inside New Zealand documentary looks at the evolution of modern Māori political activism, from young 70s rebels Ngā Tamatoa, to Te Kawariki's protest at Waitangi Day in 1995. Directed by Paora Maxwell, it is framed around interviews with key figures (Syd Jackson, Hone Harawira, Ken Mair, Mike Smith, Annette Sykes, Eva Rickard, Joe Hawke). The interviewees explore events, and the kaupapa behind their activism, from thoughts on sovereignty, and the Treaty of Waitangi, through to symbolism (tree felling, land marches) and being kaitiaki of the environment.
In this full-length episode Gary McCormick arrives in Ruatahuna, heartland of the Tūhoe people, the so-called ‘children of the mist'. The episode focuses on preparations and staging of the annual Tūhoe Festival. McCormick interviews local and national figures who express their feelings about their Tūhoe heritage. The grievances of the past are highlighted, along with pride and hope for the future. This episode goes beyond the affable romanticism of much of the series to examine the uncomfortable edge of race relations in New Zealand.
Short film The Road to Whakarae is built around a special place, and a special song. Keen to celebrate home and the joyful aspects of the Tūhoe people, local filmmaker/artist Tim Worrall and cousin Aaron Smart (whose wife is from the area) crafted a love letter to the Waimana Valley, by expanding an old Tūhoe party song about “a windy, dusty road” and inviting various locals to sing a section each. Made for online viewing as part of the Loading Docs series, the film starts with local musician and kaumātua Beam Titoko on guitar — and ends with a kiss at the marae.
This Te Ao Māori take on Hunger Games follows bushman Owen Boynton as he straps on his bow and travels across Aotearoa, to explore traditional hunting techniques and skills, and the kaupapa behind them. In this first episode Tūhoe-bred Boynton returns to his Waimana hometown to pay his respects to the forest, and hunt with whānau to provide kai for their community. On the riverbed the dogs round up a couple of deer, and he gets an anatomy lesson from his uncle. Toa Hunter-Gatherer was produced by Julian Arahanga and Awa Films for Māori Television.
Ka Haku Au — A Poet's Lament won Best Māori Language show in 2009. The one-hour documentary drama celebrates the life and songs of Kohine Whakarua Ponika. The largely unsung Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou composer — who couldn't read a note of music, created some of the most popular Māori waiata written, including 'Aku Mahi', 'Kua Rongorongo' and 'E Rona E'. Mostly in Te Reo, the show features Kohine's whānau in dramatic roles, performances and interviews. Kohine's children produced a CD of her waiata, available on iTunes, which in turn inspired the documentary.