This edition of TV2’s Sunday documentary slot explores the life of “pioneer woman” Lukre Martinovich. Martinovich departed the Dalmatian coast for New Zealand in 1907, as a 21-year-old mail-order bride. She recounts experiences starting a family of 12, while scraping kauri gum in Northland’s ‘black swamp’. A visit to Otamatea Kauri Museum spurs memories, and some of her 160 descendants gather at Ruawai Bowling Club to celebrate her birthday. Dancing stops for Lukre (also known as Lucy) to follow a punt on the races on the radio, with the local priest on hand as support.
“You forget about the rough times” says old soldier Steve Danes. Instead, the veteran of the Italian Campaign during World War ll focuses on the funny side. There are plenty of tales of the laughter and hijinks to be had when resting behind the lines, or on leave. Conscripted at age 18 and sent to Europe just short of his 21st birthday, Danes spent most of his war in Italy and there wasn’t much of the country he didn’t see. Along the way he encountered fanatical young Nazis, and older German soldiers who were sick of war and wanted it to end.
This documentary explores resurgent interest in Anzac Day and examines the Kiwi desire to “remember them” (those who served in war) — ranging from patriotism to protest to burgeoning dawn services. The doco is framed around the return of the Unknown Warrior to a Wellington tomb in 2004; and a trip to Trieste, Italy, for Gordon and Luciana Johnston and their 24-year-old granddaughter Kushla. Gordon was a World War II gunner and Luciana an Italian nurse. Kushla learns of their war experience, and the early Cold War stand-off in Trieste following Nazi surrender.
"My life is here, but my soul is there." So says immigrant Maria Stanisich in this look at NZ's Dalmatian community which, after more than a century down under, maintains a strong connection to its European homeland. Using interviews with a range of people, this episode examines the history of those arriving in New Zealand from the Dalmatian area of the Adriatic, now Croatia. Many worked on the gumfields, where discriminatory laws favoured British subjects; some formed relationships with local Māori, before bringing proxy wives over from Europe.
In this The Years Back episode Bernard Kearns charts New Zealand's 6th Brigade and Maori Battalion as they fight their way through Italy between 1943 and 1945. Reaching Monte Cassino in 1944, the force suffered 1600 casualties in 12 weeks of bitter fighting. Using NFU pictures, the documentary traces the advance north after Cassino falls, and includes the bloodless capture of Padua and the setting up of the New Zealand Forces Club in the best hotel in Venice. The documentary ends with Kiwi forces facing down Tito's Yugoslav partisans in Trieste.