Aged 50, Jean Watson sold her Wellington house to buy land for a children’s home in southern India. In 2013 filmmaker Gerard Smyth (director of acclaimed quake chronicle When a City Falls) spent two months in India, chronicling Watson and some of the many lives she has changed. Smyth’s documentary also harks back to the 60s, when Watson wrote novel Stand in the Rain, and hunted crocodiles with Barry Crump. The result won solid audiences at the 2014 NZ Film Festival. The Listener gave it four stars; “Unpretentious but unashamedly enjoyable” said The Dominion Post.
Tokelau is a New Zealand territory, spanning three small South Pacific atolls. In the 1960s the New Zealand Government expressed concern about overpopulation, and instigated the Tokelau Islands Resettlement Scheme. This National Film Unit documentary surveys Tokelau society and culture from a New Zealand perspective, and follows the journey of a group of Tokelauans who chose to migrate to Aotearoa (where they adapt to telephones and horses near Te Puke). It was one of three NFU documentaries directed by Derek Wright on Pacific Island subjects.
A Tagata Pasifika special looking at Pacific Islanders living in a Māori world. It celebrates the mingling of Polynesian cultures in Aotearoa through similarities (language, spirituality, land, extended family) and differences (clothes, food). Stories include: Samoan Beau Rasmussen who married Moana on the East Coast; Niuean Toa Luka who married a Māori woman from Northland; Tongan/Māori lawyer Kahungunu Afeaki and Whetu Fala, who grew up in Wanganui with a Samoan father and Māori mother.
Half-hour documentary The Reel People of New Zealand visits boutique cinemas, from Te Awamutu’s Regent Theatre to Stewart Island’s Bunkhouse. The changing landscape of movie-watching is revealed through visits to legendary Christchurch video store Alice (which has added a screening venue) to Opunake’s community-owned Everybody’s Theatre and Wanaka’s compact Rubys Cinema. The interviews include cinema and video store managers, tales of getting married in a cinema, and contrasting views on whether the death of cinema is unlikely or inevitable.
This Queer Nation episode, presented by Max Currie, is an overview of the capital city's queer history. The literary demimonde is first up: Katherine Mansfield's lesbian affairs and a scandal involving Norris Davey (aka Frank Sargeson). Then the role is explored of the Dorian Society (1962-1986) and its subgroup the Homosexual Law Reform Society, which paved the way towards decriminalisation in the 1980s. The programme also introduces viewers to NZ’s most famous trannies: Carmen and then-MP Georgina Beyer. Interviews and archive material spice up the history.
Raoul Island is nearly 1000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand. For this Christmas Day 1988 report, TV One's Kurt Sanders paid a visit to the four-person NZ meteorological team serving there (plus Smelly the dog — “the unchallenged King of the Kermadecs”). Sanders follows future One News weather presenter Karen Olsen (then Karen Fisher) as she milks the cow, and heads through the nikau to take readings in the crater of Raoul’s active volcano. The uniquely-evolved island is now the Department of Conservation's most remote reserve.
After the assassination of scientist David Typhon, a cast of interested parties head for his secret lab in New Zealand, pursuing the truth behind rumoured experiments on humans. Among them are rabid protestors, a European infiltrator (Michael Hurst) and the strangely-gifted Cato (Greg Wise). Typhon’s People marked a rare time that writer Margaret Mahy created a story aimed at adult audiences. Blessed with an impressive cast of Kiwis, Brits (Wise, Alfred Molina), and Australian Sophie Lee (The Castle), it sold as both a miniseries and as a 90 minute telemovie.
Tuberculosis and the Māori People of the Wairoa District was screened for the first time in 1952. It is one of many health education films made, but was unique in that it was a collaborative production involving the New Zealand Department of Health, the Ngāti Kahungungu Tribal District Committee and the National Film Unit. At this time, the death rate for Māori from TB was 10 times that of Pākehā. Turi Carroll (knighted in 1962) a respected Ngāti Kahungunu leader, narrates much of the film.
Rangi Hetet was only 17 years old when he began working as an apprentice, carving the Tāpeka meeting house. Six decades later, his life and work are examined in this documentary, as his children prepare to exhibit his work at the Dowse Art Museum alongside that of their mother, the late Erenora Puketapu-Hetet. The feature-length documentary also explores the art of whakairo (carving), and its cultural significance within Māori communities. Mo Te Iwi director Robin Greenberg's earlier film Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People (2000) was about Erenora and her Māori weaving.
This documentary charts the journey of Auckland hip hop band Nesian Mystik, from their beginnings as an inner-city school band at Western Springs to gold albums and international acclaim. Filmed in New Zealand, London and Tonga the documentary explores the multi-cultural roots of the band members and the inspiration for their lyrics. Director Makerita Urale uses the Nesian Mystik story as a lens to reflect the wider picture of Māori, Pacific Island and Pakeha society in New Zealand.