Beautiful New Zealand

Short Film, 1949 (Full Length)

This 1949 NFU film is a whistle-stop tour of Aotearoa that, per the title, takes in the full gamut of the scenic wonderland. Splendidly filmed in Kodachrome, there are lakes (Tutira, Manapouri, Te Anau, Wakatipu), caves (Waitomo), mountains (Cook/Aoraki, Egmont/Taranaki) and forests and farms aplenty, with the occasional city sojourn and an obligatory ferry shot. In the narration indefatigable nature is harnessed for man’s needs and appreciation. Of note is a sequence on gum-collector Nicholas Yakas, who shows impressive agility as he scales a giant kauri.  

The Pretender - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 2008 (Full Length Episode)

In the 2000s mockumentary realism (led by The Office) was making its mark in television comedy. Series The Pretender gave Kiwi politics the embedded camera treatment, with expat comedian Bob Maclaren playing overconfident property developer-turned-MP Dennis Plant. The first episode of the second series sees Plant cause political chaos, with the launch of his Future New Zealand party. This season was nominated for three Qantas TV awards in 2009, including best comedy. The show was created by Peter Cox (Insider’s Guide to Happiness) and Great Southern TV’s Philip Smith.

Alpine Airways

Short Film, 1963 (Full Length)

This 1963 film looks at how the development of high country aviation is taking on the challenges presented by the South Island’s rugged geography. Piloted by war veterans, small aircraft parachute supplies into remote locations for Forest Service hut building and service lighthouses. Meanwhile helicopters and airlines open up opportunities for industry (venison, tourism, forestry, topdressing) and recreation (fishing, hunting). Good keen men, smokos and Swannies abound in this classically-filmed National Film Unit documentary.

Series

The Pretender

Television, 2005–2008

In this mockumentary series, hapless property developer turned politican Dennis Plant (played by Bob Maclaren) campaigns to win a fictional Queenstown seat, then later launches party Future New Zealand. Made by Great Southern, the first season screened on TV3. A second season on TV One coincided with the 2008 election; it was thrice nominated at the 2009 Qantas NZ Film and TV Awards (Best Comedy, plus Actor and Supporting Actor, for Maclaren and Andrew King respectively). Reality met fiction when Plant's 2008 election blog appeared on the NZ Herald website.

Series

A Flying Visit

Television, 2002–2003

The father of veteran weatherman Jim Hickey was a Spitfire pilot during World War II. In this early 2000s series, made while Hickey junior was senior weathercaster at TVNZ, he channels his heritage and flies a Cessna 182 around New Zealand airstrips, taking the pulse of the people and landscapes peculiar to each region. The airborne Heartland was one of a series of programmes that he made with producer Dave Mason, under their Rustic Road Productions banner (starting with Jim’s Car Show in 2000). Hickey would later open cafes at Queenstown and New Plymouth airports. 

Series

Ken's Hunting and Fishing Show

Television, 2007

This homespun, informative and gently satirical hunting and fishing series is presented by good kiwi bloke Ken Moller (Lynda Topp from the Topp Twins). With alpine guide, Queenstown radio DJ and crack shot Emma Lange, aka Lady Hunter, Ken takes viewers on armchair adventures to some of New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions where they hunt sika stag, fish for feisty rainbow trout and "bloody beautiful browns". Closing segment Ken's Camp Kitchen features "gastronomical delights" such as venison casserole.

The Living Room - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 2004 (Full Length Episode)

Roots reggae act Kora present this Living Room episode from the beach at Whakatāne — hometown for the four Queenstown-based brothers. Then ex-Mental As Anything guitarist Reg Mombassa (born in Auckland as Chris O'Doherty) talks from Sydney about his iconic artworks for Mambo — including the notorious Australian Jesus series — and wonders if he's turning into a blowfly. Finally there’s a profile of outsider artist Martin Thompson, whose painstaking mathematically-based work has travelled from Wellington community workshops to Wallpaper* magazine.

Heartland - Glenorchy

Television, 1994 (Excerpts)

Heartland host Gary McCormick discovers the scenic and rustic charms of Glenorchy, near Queenstown. McCormick meets Rosie Grant, who has lived in the same cottage since 1916, and shares her home with 17 cats; checks out Paradise House, the first guest accommodation in the area, now owned by Dave Miller; and plans to have a day at the races. But the film crew's plans go awry when the settlement suffers serious flooding, and stories of sand-bagging, stock rescue and property recovery replace the more typical Heartland fare.

Series

Journeys Across Latitude 45 South

Television, 1985

In TVNZ’s Journeys Across Latitude 45 South, writer and presenter Peter Hayden traverses east to west from Otago’s Waitaki Plains to George Sound in Fiordland. Hayden walks, hitches, cycles, paddles a mōkihi (a traditional Māori canoe made of reeds) and white water rafts along the 45 south line. Along the way he builds a social, industrial and natural history of latitude 45 south. From the lonely wilds of Fiordland to the tourist Mecca Queenstown, Hayden encounters the quixotic and gruff, and pioneer species of the past, present in a changing world.

Interview

Grahame McLean: From props to producing...

Interview - John Barnett. Camera - Pat Cox. Editing - Alex Backhouse

Producer Grahame McLean was one of the pioneers of the New Zealand feature film industry. In his long career, he was worked in many roles - props manager, assistant director, production manager, line producer, director, scriptwriter and producer. His first job in the screen industry was on the early 70s independent TV drama The Games Affair, and he went on to produce films including Sons for the Return Home, A Woman of Good Character, and Should I be Good? The special guest interviewer is McLean's industry colleague John Barnett.