On 8 June 1987 Nuclear-free NZ became law. This collection honours the principles and people behind the policy. Norman Kirk: "Should I take the view that because they'll react against us that we shouldn't stand up for ourselves? I don't think New Zealand's a doormat. I think we've got rights — we're a small country but we've got equal rights, and we're going to assert them."
This 1983 film looks at New Zealand in World War II, via a compilation of footage from the National Film Unit’s Weekly Review newsreel series, which screened in NZ cinemas from 1941 to 1946. It begins with Prime Minister Savage’s “where Britain goes, we go” speech, and covers campaigns in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, and life on the home front. The propaganda film excerpts are augmented with narration and graphics giving context to the war effort. Helen Martin called it "a fascinating record of documentary filmmaking at a crucial time in the country’s history".
Actor Miranda Harcourt directs an ode to her broadcaster father Peter in this short documentary. The film emerges from vocal chords (via an endoscope) and uses the tools of her father’s trade as a starting point for a free-ranging meditation on repression, shell shock and family ghosts. Peter’s wartime job involved vetting messages home from the troops to check that the soldier hadn’t been killed. Post-war, Peter was dumb-struck for a year, at a time when people didn’t “talk about their deeper feelings”. Voice Over won Best Short at the 1997 NZ Film and TV Awards.
This edition of the 60s magazine show is a portrait of Peter McIntyre. McIntyre was New Zealand’s official war artist, and his paintings became icons of the NZ war effort. This piece focuses on his later landscapes — then at the height of their popularity. Shots of McIntyre working in his studio and around Kākahi — where the “happy escapist” retreats from the hurly burly of Wellington — bolster the romantic image. He muses on ‘scenic decay’, trout fishing, the zen of the bush and pop art: “If they’re surrounded by cans of beans let them paint cans of beans!”.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
Mike King presents the story of Gustavus Von Tempsky: swashbuckling colonial soldier of fortune, "flamboyant folk hero" and "our first pin up boy". The Prussian-born artist, self-promoter, romantic and adventurer, led an elite unit - the Forest Rangers - in the 1860s New Zealand Wars, garbed in trademark Garibaldi shirt, kilt and calvary sabre. His bush-fighting skill attracted respect from Māori foes, who named him "manu rau" (many birds); but also controversy after an infamous raid. He met his demise fighting guerilla leader Titokowaru.
In this documentary, artist Helen Pollock discusses her sculpture Falls the Shadow. Using clay from the Coromandel and the Passchendaele (Netherlands) battlefield, she created a grove of arms reaching up against a background of trees stripped bare by gunfire in World War I. The work was inspired by her father, a wartime signaller. Pollock discusses her installation and the effect of combat on New Zealand troops in the war (846 Kiwis died in two hours during the 1917 battle of Passchendaele). The work is now on permanent display at Passchendaele Memorial Museum.
In the early stages of World War I, New Zealand artist Edith Collier joined a group of women artists who left London to capture Ireland on canvas. Their destination: Bunmahon, a poverty-stricken fishing village on Ireland’s southern coast. Michael Heath’s second documentary on Collier sees him visiting Bunmahon with cameraman Stephen Latty. Guided by Collier’s paintings and sketches, they talk to locals about her visit, and life in Ireland 100 years ago. They also capture persuasive evidence of their own, attesting to the area’s often melancholy beauty.
This second season Big Art Trip episode opens in Wairarapa with hosts Fiona McDonald and Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins marvelling at sculptor Harry Watson’s carved statuettes. In Masterton they visit the Aratoi Museum and drop in on painter Robin White, who discusses her paintings, talks about the years she spent in Kiribati, and about the World War II POW camp in Featherston. In Wellington they catch up with first series' co-host, screenwriter Nick Ward, visit toast mosaic artist Maurice Bennett, watch Katherine Smyth throw a pot, and meet composer John Psathas.
This consolidating episode of the archive-based New Zealand history series finds World War II at an end, the return of Kiwi servicemen and the country in an optimistic mood. That's sealed by the 1950 British Empire Games where New Zealand is third on the medal table. But rising prices and low incomes lead to more militant unionism, culminating in the fractious waterfront workers dispute of 1951. At the same time there's a new flowering of the arts. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is established and a new generation of writers and artists take centre stage.