Writer Janet Frame (1924 - 2004) is an icon of New Zealand literature; her 'edge of the alphabet' use of language has seen her acclaimed as "one of the great writers of our time" (San Francisco Chronicle). This collection celebrates Frame's life and work on screen, from applauded Vincent Ward and Jane Campion translations to a rare TV interview with Michael Noonan.
Some of the great names of international rugby can be seen both playing and reminiscing in this hour long history of British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand. 1930 Lion Harry Bowcott is the oldest player here, conceding his side were surprised by the toughness of the New Zealand style of rugby; tough like 1950 All Black captain Ron Elvidge, who came back on to crash through a tackle and score a try, despite a fractured sternum and stitches in his head. The documentary concludes with Gavin Hastings’ 1993 Lions team. It was made as a preview for the 2005 tour.
AA Torque Show was a Kiwi motoring show following in the wheelspun tracks of international hit Top Gear. In this episode from the second series, architect Roger Walker takes the new Audi TT off the drawing board for a spin on the Central Plateau; actor and host Danny Mulheron tries to convince superbike champ Aaron Slight that a convertible is more than “a hairdresser’s car” as they drive a Volvo and a BMW coupe to the Gladstone Pub in the Wairarapa; and it’s the final of the Motormouth Cup (“which C-lister will walk away with motoring’s glittering prize”?)
DIY first flyer Richard Pearse aptly leads off this three-part 1982 series on the history of aviation in New Zealand. Presented by pilot Peter Clements, the survey of the pioneers of the “birdman’s art” covers daredevil balloonists, World War I fighter pilots, flying bishops, and frontrunners like the Walsh bros and George Bolt. A forgotten silver treasure from the archives is footage of Percy Fisher’s monoplane, filmed on a hand-cranked movie camera in the Wairarapa in 1913. The series was made for TV by veteran director Conon Fraser and the National Film Unit.
This Simmonds Brothers short zips through five generations of their family history, from Croatia to the Kapiti Coast, plus a shipwreck near Auckland. Described as a 'documation', the voices of yarning family members are married to their cartoon likenesses, to comic and ultimately moving effect. The film opens with Mariano and Elizabeth Vella's great great granddaughter and moves to a dramatic re-enactment of the Dalmatian settlers' so-called "very nice honeymoon" on the steamer SS Wairarapa, when it was wrecked off Great Barrier Island in 1894 (131 people died).
Ricky is shy and has an overbearing father. He and extroverted misfit Telly (Chelsie Preston Crayford) slip out into the night, commandeering Ricky's father's fishing boat and heading out into the freedom of the fog. Peter Salmon's short film highlights oppression, boredom and sex in a small New Zealand town. Fog was shot in Ngawi, an isolated fishing village on the Wairarapa coastline. It was invited to 20 international film festivals, including the Critics' Week section at Cannes. At the 2007 NZ Screen Awards, Chelsie Preston Crayford was awarded for Best Performance in a Short Film.
In 2009 Māori Television rebooted the classic game show first hosted by Selwyn Toogood. In this episode from the fifth season, Stacey Daniels Morrison and Pio Terei take the popular roadshow to Masterton in the Wairarapa. Contestants answer locally themed questions (ranging from local iwi to Brian Lochore, Jemaine Clement and Ladyhawke), and earn the right to barter for the money or the bag. But as Morrison says, “remember that lurking in some of those bags are the boobies…”. Prizes include a basketball stands, a 50 inch TV and the MultiKai cooker.
This edition of the 1987 Inspiration series on Kiwi artists looks at potter James (Jim) Greig, and his search for the “spark of life” found in clay. The Peter Coates-directed documentary visits Greig’s Wairarapa studio to interview him and his wife Rhondda, also an artist. Greig’s influences are surveyed: the work of Kiwi potter Len Castle, nature, orphanhood, and Japan (where his work achieved renown). The film captures the visceral process of making large works for a Wellington City Gallery exhibition. Greig died of a heart attack, aged 50, while this film was being made.
Presented by Kiwi TV pioneer Shirley Maddock, Islands of the Gulf was New Zealand’s first locally made documentary series. In this episode Maddock makes the 50 mile seaplane flight from Auckland to Great Barrier. Accompanied by ever present birdsong, she proves an eloquent, attentive guide to ‘The Barrier’. She recounts the SS Wairarapa tragedy and pigeon post, tramps to old kauri dams, and surveys the quirks of transport for the 240 people then living on the rugged bush-clad island, from the Land Rover-driving nurse, to a Chrysler taxi once owned by Al Capone.
Georgina Beyer was the first transgendered person in the world to be elected to national office. Co-directed by Annie Goldson and Peter Wells, this internationally lauded documentary, tells the story of Beyer's extraordinary, inspiring journey from sex worker to member of Parliament for rural Wairarapa, and handshakes with the Queen. Born George Bertrand, Beyer grew up on a Taranaki farm, before spreading her wings on Auckland's cabaret circuit. Subsequent events led her to the town of Carterton, where she became involved in local body, and then national politics.