Black Widow

Chong-Nee, Music Video, 2006

This Chong-Nee music video pays tribute to a young pole dancer who is a "master of her game". Skater turned TV presenter (Target) and nightclub operator (The Pony Club) Brooke Howard-Smith plays a fan paying for a visit, while Dei Hamo grabs a comfortable seat nearby to provide guest vocals. Musician and producer John Chong-Nee had collaborated with Dei Hamo before this track — the pair worked together on 'We Gon Ride', which topped the Kiwi singles charts for five weeks in late 2004.

Rud's Wife

Short Film, 1986 (Full Length)

“An ironic comedy about a disconnected New Zealand family” is the tagline to this early Alison Maclean short. Recently widowed Nan (Yvonne Lawley) assesses her life and the roles prescribed by her family as she readies a Sunday roast. Her new plans — “I won’t be able to make the Christmas Cake this year” — rattle the shackles of her Old Testament-bashing husband and her ex-All Black son. Nan was a comeback leading role for Lawley after time away raising a family. Written with playwright Norelle Scott, Maclean’s short screened with the About Face TV series.

A Fair Deal

Film, 1979 (Full Length)

This headline-grabbing 1979 documentary examines inequality via interviews with an unemployed student, a young widow and a Porirua family of eight; plus visits to a Fijian village and a Hong Kong housing estate. The film's arguments that business and government monopolies had caused poverty in “egalitarian New Zealand”, and that NZ trade practices had added to it elsewhere, displeased Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. State television refused to screen the Greg Stitt-directed documentary; CORSO, the charity who commissioned it, was removed from the government’s funding list.  

The Wall

Short Film, 1992 (Full Length)

Actor and casting legend Diana Rowan (who discovered both Anna Paquin and Keisha Castle-Hughes) turns her hand to writing and directing, with this darkly comic half-hour television drama based on an original story by Shonagh Koea. Veteran actor Helen Moulder (Fallout) gives a stand-out performance as a recently widowed woman, who arrives at a novel solution to well-meaning but hideous friends and family. The Wall is dedicated to director of photography Bayly Watson, who passed away soon after working on it.

Face Value - Her New Life

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

Written by Fiona Samuel, Face Value was a trilogy of monologues by three women with different stories to tell but who all share a quest for inner happiness. Ginette McDonald plays Steph, the pampered wife of a wealthy advertising executive in Her New Life. The action centres on Steph’s preparations for a friend’s daughter’s wedding while her husband is away on a business trip. The script cleverly subverts viewer expectations; and McDonald's performance delivers a fair dose of pathos from it. Her New Life was a finalist at the Banff and New York TV Festivals.

Johnstone's Journey - A Century of Wendelkens

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

In the third episode of Johnstone’s Journey, broadcaster Ian Johnstone meets three generations of the Wendelken family. The episode is framed around an interview with matriarch Elsie, 85, then living in Timaru — her daughter Rae and grandson Ivan farm nearby. Son John is a public servant in Wellington; granddaughter Anne is a mother in suburban Wellington. Topics span from world wars, depression, farming and inflation, to shifting values. Says Elsie: “There are two things that have been left completely out of today’s young people: one is obedience, and the other is discipline.”

Red Blooded - Lion Red

Commercial, 1993 (Full Length)

This boisterous Geoff Dixon-directed commercial dates from the time when craft beer was yet to make a big mark, and Lion Red was NZ's number one beer. Hyperactive in a flannel shirt, a pre-Hercules Michael Hurst takes the mic at a pub talent quest, and sings a war cry for Kiwi blokes against wimpy pretenders like champagne cocktails and Mexican beers. Local advertising veteran Roy Meares wrote the "anti-yuppie commercial" (he was also behind the long-running Speights 'Perfect Woman' campaign). The Murray Grindlay-composed song became a pub anthem.

Utu Pihikete

Short Film, 2013 (Full Length)

A colonial widow, recently arrived in New Zealand from England, answers an advertisement from a stoic settler for a wife. They agree to an arrangement. Later Mrs Brown forms an attachment to their Māori servant girl Atawhai, and slowly learns the secret behind her presence. Written by playwright April Phillips (who also plays Mrs Brown) this short film was directed by Christchurch theatre director Craig Hutchison. It was filmed at Wellington's Nairn Street Cottage. ‘Utu Pihikete’ was a derogatory term for half-caste children meaning “paid for in biscuits”.

Land of Plenty

OMC, Music Video, 1996

'Land of Plenty' is a love letter to Aotearoa, featuring another take on the conversational vocal stylings heard on global smash 'How Bizarre'. Channelling his Niuean father's love of NZ, Pauly Fuemana namechecks favourite streets, Mt Ruapehu, white water and "open caves that glow supreme". Taisha Khutze (now in The Lady Killers) supplies some impressive vocal stylings of her own. In 2013 co-writer Alan Jansson joined Fuemana's widow in criticising what they saw as "noticeable similarities" between this top five hit, and the song for a 'Land of Plenty, Land of Quattro' car ad.

Va Tapuia - Sacred Spaces

Short Film, 2009 (Full Length)

Taro planter Lui’s grief for his dead wife is blighting his life and crops. A widow, Malia, is bound by anger to the grave of her abusive husband, as the rising sea slowly drowns it. When Lui and Malia meet by chance, he’s provided with a path from his hurt. Filmed in Samoan on the island of Upolu, and directed by Samoan-born Tusi Tamasese, the short is a fable-like meditation on communion, cooking and sacred places. It was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand and Hawaii film festivals, and was the precursor to Tamasese’s Venice-selected debut feature, The Orator.