This 1970 documentary surveys New Zealand’s dairy industry — “probably the most advanced in the world” — from pasture to export. Dairying then produced a quarter of NZ’s income, but with Britain due to join the EEC, NZ was forced to seek new markets. This film proclaims the industry’s readiness, thanks to an artificial breeding centre (with ‘calf-eteria’), room-sized computers, and cheeses designed for the Asian market. The country's 25,000 dairy farms were each owner-operated, and averaged 90 cows. The Dairy Industry won top prize at an agricultural film competition in Berlin.
This 1985 promotional film for the New Zealand Dairy Board catalogues diversifying taste in cheese as Kiwis move beyond the big block of cheddar. New varieties — feta, brie, camembert — are pitched as part of an evolution towards a more exotic and ‘gourmet’ culinary culture. A camel-riding Catherine Saunders looks at the process of how cheese is made in NZ; a highlight is the making of blue vein mould, and fondue gets a mention (“gruyère is best”). The film opens with an ad anointing “the great New Zealand 1Kg!” alongside a line-up of iconic Kiwi measurements.
In this short clip, sponsored by the New Zealand Dairy Board, cookbook queen Alison Holst provides a rundown on four easy meals that can be made out of bread and cheese. Made long before the more hyperactive Food In a Minute, Holst’s calm charisma gently talks us through the ins and outs of mouse traps, cheese rolls, mini pizzas and, of course, cheese toasties. A surprise bell from the microwave threatens to throw Holst off her stride, but then a dive into her rich supply of kitchen tips helps her get things right back on track.
Alison Holst (DNZM, CBE, QSM) has been a household face since the early days of New Zealand television, when her debut show, Here’s How: Alison Holst Cooks, was an instant hit. Her mission was to cook for ordinary people, use uncomplicated ingredients and stick to a budget. Rejecting her unliberated image, she aimed to get women out of the kitchen by making cooking simple.
Producer Colin Follas worked on a long line of agriculture-related TV shows: from Country Calendar (which he regularly fronted, with such aplomb he was known as 'One Shot Follas') to specialist productions Ag Report and Farming with Pictures. He set up company Tiger Films, and produced shows ranging from corporate videos and food promotions to award-winning Treaty of Waitangi drama Nga Tohu: Signatures.
Hugh Macdonald began his long, award-studded career at the National Film Unit, where at 25 he directed ambitious three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand (1970), which was seen by 400,000 New Zealanders. In the 80s he produced Oscar-nominated short The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil and established his own company, continuing a busy diet of commercial films, train documentaries and animation.
Catherine Saunders kicked off her radio career in 1961, then became a television announcer. She was a reporter for 60s magazine show Town and Around, and later began an extended run as a panelist on Selwyn Toogood’s Beauty and the Beast. In 1969 Saunders started working in public relations and marketing; she was a key player in marketing butter, Daffodil Day and the NZ Dairy Board’s 'Bigger Block of Cheese' campaign — one of the country’s most successful. She has also hosted TV's Tonight With Cathy Saunders, had her own Radio New Zealand slot, and produced RNZ hit Top Of the Morning for five years.
English cameraman John Earnshaw moved downunder in 1975, just as the local screen industry was hotting up. A director of photography on hundreds of commercials, he shot two feature-length projects: cult movie Angel Mine, one of the earliest entries in the Kiwi movie renaissance, and TV movie A Woman of Good Character. He passed away on 3 March 2014, leaving behind him a passion project involving a mysterious Boeing aircraft.
The distinctive deep voice of veteran broadcaster Dick Weir, QSM, is known to generations of Kiwi kids as a longtime Radio New Zealand National presenter (The Dick Weir Sunday Show, Ears). On screen he has narrated everything from election campaigns to Erebus docudramas to Wild South. Weir was also the inaugural presenter of 80s after-school news programme The Video Dispatch.
With a background in film publicity in England, Nigel Hutchinson emigrated to New Zealand in 1974. After co-founding production company Motion Pictures, he went on to direct a run of award-winning TV commercials, and co-produce Kiwi movie landmark Goodbye Pork Pie. He passed away on 23 March 2017.