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.
When Frank Sanft’s older brother was killed early in World War ll, it only intensified Frank’s determination to serve. Joining the Royal Navy, he was eventually assigned to Operation PLUTO, which involved laying an undersea fuel pipeline between the UK and Cherbourg (vital in keeping Allied vehicles moving, directly after the invasion of France). Frank laughs now at a close call with a sniper ashore in France. Serving in the Pacific, he was there after Singapore’s notorious Changi PoW camp was liberated. In 2017 Sanft was awarded a prestigious French Legion of Honour.
This episode of history series The Years Back focuses on the impact of World War II on Kiwi women. Through archive and interviews it looks at home front life: rationing (as recalled by Dame Pat Evison), fashion (‘Simplicity Styles’), and the arrival of American troops — around 1,400 women would later emigrate to the United States as war brides. It also shows the liberating effect of the war on many women as they took up the jobs left vacant by men serving overseas. Women joined the services too: with more than 8,000 enlisted across the army, navy and air forces.
Olly Coddington won fame as one of the presenters of bilingual youth show Mai Time, and its successor I AM TV. Since leaving I AM TV in 2009, he has taken on a range of screen roles, from on air work to producing Māori Television reality show Game of Bros. Coddington is a fluent speaker of te reo Māori.
For three decades, playwright and critic Bruce Mason played intelligent, impassioned witness to many key developments in Kiwi theatre and culture; a number of them his own. His play The Pohutukawa Tree has spawned more than 180 productions, and was watched by 20 million after being adapted for the BBC. The End of the Golden Weather is both a classic solo play, and movie.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
After studying acting in Whangarei, Rob Mokaraka won a Best Newcomer Champman Tripp acting award for 2001 play Have Car, Will Travel. On screen he was part of the ensemble cast in acclaimed Māori Battalion tale Tama Tu, and Paolo Rotondo-directed short The Freezer. Mokaraka and Rotondo would later collaborate on award-winning play Strange Resting Places, a tale of Māori and Italian bonds during World War ll.
From a proudly Te Reo-speaking Gisborne family, Te Kohe Tuhaka went on to study at drama school Toi Whakaari. Since then his screen career has included Taika Waititi short film Tama Tū, language learning show Kōrero Mai, Shortland Street, and playing All Black Jerome Kaino (in TV movie The Kick). His work as presenter includes TV's Marae Kai Masters and fashion show Freestyle. On stage, he was praised by Time Out Australia for his "extraordinary intensity" in solo play Michael James Manaia, which he called a "dream role". In 2014 the longtime action fan played villain Wirepa, in Te Reo action movie The Dead Lands.
Martin Henderson's Hollywood leading roles have seen him fighting globalisation (Battle in Seattle), strange forces (The Ring) and dancing (Bride & Prejudice). An original member of the Shortland Street cast, Henderson scored ongoing roles on Australian TV before heading to the US. Variety magazine called his drug-dealing amputee in Little Fish "a revelation". In 2014 he won further acclaim starring in Australian mini-series Secrets and Lies.
Journalist, director and producer Rob Harley has won many awards in a career spanning four decades. He was a high profile investigative reporter on TVNZ’s flagship news and current affairs shows Frontline, Assignment and Sunday from 1990 to 2003, before moving into independent programme making.