Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.
Actor Marshall Napier (Came a Hot Friday) has played a good number of unsympathetic cops over his long career. In Bellbird he displays a gentler side, as a Northland dairy farmer who is unable to express himself after his wife's death. His son (Cohen Holloway) and friends try to help in various ways. Director and schoolteacher Hamish Bennett based his script on memories of growing up in rural Northland. The film expands upon his award-winning short film Ross and Beth (2014). The cast also includes Rachel House. Bellbird was invited to screen at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival.
In the first of this two-part documentary about Kiwis and cars, actor Rima Te Wiata sets off on a road tour of New Zealand. Starting in the South Island, Te Wiata learns about the first bus tours to Aoraki, which were handled by the Mount Cook Motor Company. Then she travels to Westport via the infamous Hawks Crag, and hears from locals about the difficulties and dangers of transit before the introduction of cars. A trip back up the country takes Te Wiata to Northland, where the locals suggest they may have been better off when the primary mode of transport was by boat.
Open Home was a 90s series looking at New Zealand homes and the people making, designing and living in them. This episode from the third season ranges from deconstructionism to DIY. Builder (and future Dunedin mayor) David Cull checks out a Northland glasshouse designed by Nigel Cook, before visiting the renovated Australian farmhouse and digital recording studio of Dragon band member Todd Hunter. Susan Wood tries translating the architectural theory of deconstructionism with the help of Auckland architects, including Mark Wigley.
ITM Fishing Show host Matt Watson tried to convince his wife fishing was fun by making his own TV show. He succeeded, and has since featured on David Letterman’s Late Show jumping from a helicopter to nab a marlin, and helped everyone from Richie McCaw to Joseph Parker get their catch of the day. This episode is the opener to the first TVNZ run of the series. Watson's team head out to Northland’s Whangaroa Harbour and the Cavalli Islands, where they test lures and compare tackle with an Aussie guest. They cast for kahawai and kingfish, and spot an elusive marlin.
Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life follows the adventures of Nia, a 10 year-old girl living in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai. “Nothing exciting ever happens here …” begins Nia, but the ordinary becomes extraordinary via the power of her imagination. In this third episode Nia (Shania Gilmour) and Hazel meet Lucas "curled up like a ball" on the beach after a turtle-related incident. They go looking for the escaped turtle, and encounter a crab. Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was New Zealand's first web series for children.
Five years after the Treaty of Waitangi's signing, tension between British and Māori was at boiling point. In the middle of nowhere in Northland, chief Te Ruki Kawiti devised a plan to fight back. His masterpiece was Ruapekapeka, a state of the art pā with underground tunnels, deep trenches and artillery bunkers. Journalist Mihingarangi Forbes visits the site to investigate how Māori — outnumbered four to one — survived a 10 day British bombardment. Produced by Great Southern Television and Radio NZ, NZ Wars won awards for Best Documentary, Māori Programme and Presenter.
In this 1992 Wild South documentary, pioneering underwater photographers Wade and Jan Doak investigate how fish have evolved over 400 million years on the Northland coast. They explore ocean dwellers off the Poor Knights Islands, where myriad nimble life forms thrive — from radar-like sensory systems and kaleidoscopic colouring, to the intricacies of jaw and fin shape. The Doaks conduct novel experiments to showcase them on camera in this Natural History New Zealand production. This episode was narrated by nature documentary filmmaker Peter Hayden.
In the first episode of The Cult, headstrong lawyer Michael Lewis (Shortland Street's Renato Bartolomei) joins a volatile group in a Northland house. Each of them has lost a family member or friend to commune Two Gardens, and wants to get them out. Meanwhile, inside Two Gardens, Michael's son is asked to "renounce" his own brother. Created by Kathryn Burnett and Peter Cox, The Cult won Qantas awards for acting, design, music, cinematography, and editing — and was nominated for another four acting awards. Peter Burger (Until Proven Innocent) directs this first episode.
New Zealand's first web series for children follows the adventures of a 10 year-old girl for whom the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Nia (Shania Gilmour) lives in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai; in this first episode she introduces herself, her friend Hazel, and her highly active imagination, which is soon teaching a bully a lesson — thanks to help from a boxing glove, and her pet taniwha George. From the folks behind Auckland Daze (Kiel McNaughton and Kerry Warkia), Nia's Extra Ordinary Life also screened on Māori Television.