“Mental subnormality here is no higher than in other countries. Still it strikes more than one in a thousand.” The subjects of this 1964 NFU documentary are intellectually disabled patients (mostly children) at a Levin psychopaedic hospital, and the trainee nurses who care for them. The narration embodies contemporary healthcare ideas where “retarded” children were seen as patients to be kept “happy among their fellows”, and sheltered from the outside world. By the 90s, institutions like this one (later renamed Kimberley) were overtaken by assisted living.
Amy Street is an award-winning series of eight short documentaries. Each tells the story of a resident in a Thames assisted living community for people with intellectual disabilities. Opening the series is Celeste, a superfan of Shortland Street who gets to meet one of her Street idols. Other interviewees include Moyzee, a keen singer who says "labels are on jars and I'm not a jar so you can't label me"; couple Topsy and Dave, who are excited about their upcoming wedding, and Jonathan, a runner who hopes to win a medal at the Special Olympics in Dunedin.
Open Door is a community-based TV series where groups or individuals make a documentary about an issue that concerns them. This episode is about The Papermill - a charitable organisation based near Whangarei, where artists with intellectual disabilities create decorative paper products. Papermill Creative Director Trees van Ruth, along with parents of the disabled artists, and the artists themselves talk about this thriving small business and tourist attraction, and stress the positive impact it has on the self-esteem of its workers.
Karen and Mark, who are both intellectually disabled, are expecting a child. In this episode from stripped back documentary series First Hand, the couple become a family when baby Terry arrives. Terry's birth means the usual support they receive from IHC must be ramped up, and a new caregiver steps in to help Karen and Mark cope with the 24/7 responsibilities of parenthood. It's a story full of hope and love, but no one close to the couple is under any illusions about the amount of support needed to successfully parent Terry.
Open Door is a community-based TV series where groups or individuals make a documentary about an issue that concerns them. This episode is about Adults in Motion (AIM) - an organisation helping intellectually disabled young adults by giving them social interaction, education, life skills, and the possibility of future employment. The doco interviews AIM founder Sally O’Mara, and other parents; as well as volunteers and participants. Former All Black Robin Brooke features as the owner of a local supermarket offering work to an AIM participant.
Attitude is a weekly series looking at the issues and interests of people living with a disability. This episode features the Special Olympics Unity Cup at the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa. The team is made up of intellectually disabled players from around the world, and celebrities such as South African president Jacob Zuma, Special Olympics boss Tim Shriver (of the Kennedy family), and Chinese movie star Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Mark Liggins is the Kiwi representative on the team, and he travels to the cup with former All Whites captain Steve Sumner.
Back-Up New Zealand provides outdoor exciting adventure activity courses (which include rock climbing, gliding, canoeing, scuba diving, and blo-carting), for people with disabilities. This episode of the Open Door series focuses on a group of course participants in the programme who have an intellectual disability. Their week long course sees them experiencing the fears overcoming the challenges; the excitement, the personal growth and the sheer joy of adventuring into the outdoors.
This 2016 web series looks at life for residents of The Supported Life Style Hauraki Trust in Thames. Amy Street is an assisted living programme for people with intellectual disabilities. The eight short documentaries each focus on a different resident. Amy Street was made by Kirsty Griffin and Viv Kernick of Bella Pacific Media, who got the funding after profiling a resident of the trust in one of their earliest films, Wayne. As the duo put it, "pretty quickly we no longer saw the disability but the individual." Amy Street won awards at web festivals in Berlin, Melbourne and Buenos Aires.
If director and producer Peter Coates was a superhero, he’d surely be ‘Renaissance Man’. His contribution to championing the arts on television is arguably heroic, and his career multi-faceted. From 1971 to 2004 Coates produced, directed or scripted hundreds of TV productions covering a smorgasbord of topics, from operas to soap operas, and from portraits of New Zealand artists to rugby coaching films.
Throughout his 50 year career, John O’Shea was a pioneer and a champion of the independent New Zealand film industry. His name was synonymous with Pacific Film Productions, which he ran for over 20 years after Pacific founder Roger Mirams left for Australia. O’Shea was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission, Ngā Taonga and the Wellington Film Society.