Wellington artist Gordon Crook was known for his bold, colourful prints and tapestries. In this documentary, director Clare O’Leary mixes Crook’s biography (from UK foster care to London Central School of Art lecturer, then decades in Wellington) and interviews with Crook, dealers, students and mates. In this excerpt Crook discusses his work, and collaborating with weaver Lesley Nicholls; and friend Edith Ryan recalls first seeing Crook’s massive Michael Fowler Centre banners. The documentary premiered at the 2010 NZ Film Festival. Crook died in August 2011, aged 89.
This award-winning National Film Unit documentary looks at the craft movement in New Zealand, as this counterpoint to industrial mass production went mainstream. The sense of involvement in the title refers to the individual skills that potters, weavers, printmakers, furniture makers and sculptors bring to making their objects. Director David Sims avoids narration, instead using music from composer Tony Baker to score scenes of the makers at work, from the loom, furnace and kiln, to workshop and studio. As a flashback to the late 70s, facial hair, ceramics and wool abound.
This documentary looks at Māori painter/sculptor Darcy Nicholas. Nicholas grew up in the Taranaki, among extended whanau. “We didn’t have much money, but we had a lot of aroha and a lot of land to play in”. Director Lala Rolls looks at Nicholas’s relationship to his Māoritanga, and at how he took on the mantle of helping organise Toi Māori: The Eternal Flame — the first touring exhibition of Māori weaving. He and other participants recall travelling to America, and weaving “a map of friendship” with native American tangata whenua.
The line “where the bloody hell are you?” generated controversy when used in a 2006 Aussie tourism campaign; so who knows what 1980 audiences made of this promo’s exhortation to “Come on to New Zealand.” But as the narration assures: “It’s a safe country. You can walk without being molested.” Aimed at the US market, the film was made as long haul air travel was opening up NZ as a destination. Māori culture, sheep and pretty scenery are highlighted, alongside skinny dipping and weaving (!). Narrated by Bob Parker, the NFU promo marked an early gig for editor Annie Collins.
This 1951 National Film Unit production looks at the Cook Islands, and marks the 50th anniversary of the islands’ annexation in 1901. Unusually long (half an hour) for an NFU film, it shows history ("Vikings of the Pacific" through Captain Cook to New Zealand administration) and island life: spear-fishing, catamaran sailing, breadfruit gathering, weaving, dancing and singing. The islands are depicted as paradise guided by NZ paternalism, with the Islanders grateful recipients of modern communication, technology, health services, education, and... tinned meat.
This web series profiles nine Ngāi Tahu artists, all working in different mediums. Weavers Reihana Parata and Morehu Flutey-Henare, and carver Fayne Robinson use traditional designs and materials like flax, feathers, stone, pounamu and wood, while conceptual artist Nathan Pohio uses 'found' objects like old photographs, presenting them in different contexts so they speak to a new audience. From photographer Fiona Pardington's 'memento mori' imagery to painter Simon Kaan's serene landscapes, each artist draws inspiration from the land and its wairua (spirit).
Haunui Royal directs this 1999 documentary on the people who live in the Far North, and their guardianship (kaitiakitanga) connection with the land and sea. Royal looks at how this traditional ownership is under pressure: from urban sprawl, pollution, and changing land use. Kaitiaki include farmer Laly Haddon, fisherman Rick, paralegal Ani Taniwha (whose work with ōi (shearwater) helped deepen her connection to the land); Ngāti Kuri members looking after Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), and a group of rangatahi from Auckland.
Sir Ed Hillary, then in his early 50s, acts as tour guide to remote New Zealand. In the far north he receives a tokotoko (walking stick) and admires the Aupōuri people’s connection with the land. He goes bush and dives for scallops off Stewart Island, and fishes on a Hollyford sandspit. In 1971 he tackles a grand traverse of Mount Cook with Harry Ayres and other mates — not bad for a self-described "middle-aged family man who has tried to keep himself reasonably fit". Sir Ed narrates, and his down-to-earth passion for adventure makes this an inspiring travelogue.
This 1962 National Film Unit production is a comprehensive survey of the history and (then) state of Māori carving. Many taonga are filmed on display at Wellington’s Dominion Museum, and the design aspects of ‘whakairo’ are examined, from the spiral motif to the origin of iconic black, red and white colouring. Finding reviving tradition in new “community halls”, the film shows the building of Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt in 1960, recording the processes behind woven tukutuku panels and kowhaiwhai patterns, as the tapping of mallets provides a percussive presence.
“Only 40 hours by air from San Francisco and six from Sydney, Auckland New Zealand is on your doorstep.” In 1952, NZ tourism was also a long way from a core contributor to the national economy. A flying boat and passenger ship deposits visitors in the “Queen among cities” for this National Film Unit survey of Kiwi attractions. The potted tour takes in yachting, the beach, postwar housing shortage, school patrols, dam building and the War Memorial Museum, before getting out of town into dairy, racing and thermal wonderlands, where “you can meet some of our Māori people”.