Fishing

With more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline and nowhere in Aotearoa further than 130 kilometres from the sea, is it any wonder that recreational fishing is such a popular pastime here? More than a million Kiwis fish each year, not to mention the overseas visitors that come for that very reason. So if you’re angling for a fishy tale  – it was THIS long – this spotlight has it covered: from snapper and marlin in the north, to groper and salmon in the south, and plenty of fly-fishing in between. 

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Lake Taupō - Paradise for Fishermen

Short Film, 1951 (Documentary)

This National Film Unit promotional film begins at the Aratiatia rapids on the Waikato River and heads on up to Lake Taupō, where it chucks on the waders and casts into the waters of the volcanic crater lake, to extol the virtues of fishing for rainbow trout. The narration is firmly of its time: “Here’s one man’s idea of the complete angler: complete with radio and pretty girl. Maybe the fish won’t bite, but he’s planned a good day whatever line he uses.” Lake Taupō - Paradise for Fishermen was the NFU’s first production to be shot on 35mm colour film (specifically 35mm Ansco Colour).

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Ken's Hunting and Fishing Show - Tongariro

Television, 2007 (Comedy, Lifestyle)

Lynda Topp's alter ego and all-round-good-Kiwi-bloke, Ken Moller, presents this homespun, informative and gently satirical series that journeys around some of New Zealand's most spectacular hunting and fishing spots. In this central North Island-set episode, Ken and river rafting guide Garth Oakden go catch-and-release fly fishing in Tongariro National Park; and another colourful personality, Lady Hunter (Emma Lange) goes helicopter sika stag shooting in the Kawekas. 'Ken's Camp Kitchen' features venison casserole.  

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Passport to Pleasure

Short Film, 1958 (Promotional, Documentary)

One of the last films shot by longtime cameraman Bert Bridgman before his death, this 1958 promotional film follows an American tourist with a licence to fish in New Zealand, her “passport to pleasure”. Narrated by Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and conservationist Louis Bromfield, the film quotes liberally from English 'father of fishing' Izaak Walton, as the “gal from the States” is given fly fishing instruction. The life cycle of trout is shown, and the film — directed by onetime war correspondent Ron McIntyre — ends with a contest of wits between wily angler and trout. 

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Land of the Long White Cloud

Film, 2009 (Documentary)

Florian Habicht returns to Northland (home surf and turf and Kaikohe Demolition territory) to chronicle the annual Red Snapper Classic fishing competition. The first prize is $50,000 but the participants chase the joy of the cast as much as the purse. The solitary figures on the epic sweep of Ninety Mile Beach provide striking images, while Habicht teases out their innermost thoughts and some fine homespun philosophy. A 50s era soundtrack is an apt match while the closing underwater sequences are a stunning counterpoint to the anglers' endeavours. 

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Karioitahi Beach

Short Film, 1971 (Documentary)

This short film evokes a day fishing from Karioitahi’s black sand beach: balloons are tied to bait lines then sent out, and the fisherman yarn, drink Fanta, and reel in the catch. Expressively shot by Lynton Diggle in black and white, and backed by an accoustic guitar score, the narration-free Pictorial Parade marked an early entry for director John Laing (Beyond Reasonable Doubt). In 2001 Laing proudly recalled his NFU employers' outrage at the film's “pseudo-Japanese bullshit.” He left the Unit shortly after; ironically the film would win him a job at Canada’s National Film Board.

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Hunger for the Wild - Series One, Episode Three (Mokihinui River whitebait)

Television, 2006 (Nature, Lifestyle)

This award-winning lifestyle series took Wellington chefs Al Brown and Steve Logan out of their fine-dining restaurant kitchen on a mission to put the local in 'locally sourced' kai. In this series one episode it's wild food on a wild river: whitebaiting on the Mokihinui. Brownie gets a primo 'stand' and coaster advice; and Steve gets some Green Fern lager and meets a DoC ranger who tells the whitebait's perilous life story and nets a grown-up: a kokopu. Then it's riverside fritters with beurre blanc sauce and asparagus, washed down with a glass of pinot gris.

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Bungy Fishing - Instant Kiwi Attitude

Commercial, 1989 (Promotional)

This classic 1989 TV commercial promoted the NZ Lotteries Commission’s new ‘scratch and win’ cards. The goad to gamble was based on the question: “Instant Kiwi attitude: have you got it?” as personified by a bungy-jumping fisherman. From Saatchi & Saatchi’s then-high-flying Wellington office, the promo is iconic of the big budget era of NZ ad making. It was directed by Flying Fish co-founder Lee Tamahori, who also helmed high profile promos for Fernleaf and Steinlager before making his movie directing debut with Once Were Warriors (1994).

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Catching the Tide - Sam Hunt's Cook Strait

Film, 1988 (Documentary)

Poet Sam Hunt goes "between islands" on a home turf tour. To a backdrop of languid 'good day' Strait's scenery, he yarns with locals about stories of land and sea, and recites poetry: "[it's all about just] standing back and listening ... or watching". He chats with Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, goes groper fishing off Mana, and hears of a plan to float on a flax flutterboard across the Strait. Hunt then gets himself across via ferry for whaling stories at Oxley's Rock pub and meets boatbuilders and Cape Jackson farmers. Includes (brutal) archival whaling footage.

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Pictorial Parade No. 41

Short Film, 1955 (Documentary)

This edition of the NFU magazine series first travels to Waiouru to observe the NZ Army’s elite Special Air Service, in the year it was established. The soldiers undergo bush exercises, an obstacle course and a mock ambush, training for deployment to Malaya. Then it’s up to Auckland Zoo to meet husky litters destined for an Antarctic Adventure with Hillary and the Trans-Antarctic Expedition (the dogs are related to Captain Scott’s huskies). And finally, it’s further north to go shark fishing for “a day on the Kaipara” in a segment directed by Maurice Shadbolt.

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The Taking Mood

Short Film, 1969 (Sport, Promotional, Comedy)

A rod and rally race is the pretext for this 1969 light comedy. Legendary angler ‘Maggots’ McClure lures “glamour boy” lawyer and fishing novice Applejoy (Peter Vere-Jones) into a contest to catch three trophy fish in three locations (Russell, Taupō, Waitaki) in the fastest time. The old dunga vs Alvis ‘Speed 20’, north vs south duel transfixes the nation; snags, shags and scenic diversion ensues. Directed by noted UK doco maker Derek Williams, the caper was made with NFU help and funded by BP. It showed with Gregory Peck western The Stalking Mood in NZ theatres.

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Off the Beaten Track

Television, 1973 (Documentary)

Sir Ed Hillary, then in his early 50s, acts as tour guide to remote New Zealand. In the far north he receives a tokotoko (walking stick) and admires the Aupōuri people’s connection with the land. He goes bush and dives for scallops off Stewart Island and fishes on a Hollyford sandspit. In the Alps he tackles a 1971 grand traverse of Mount Cook with Harry Ayres and other mates. Not bad for a self-described "middle-aged family man who has tried to keep himself reasonably fit". Sir Ed narrates, and his down-to-earth passion for adventure makes this an inspiring travelogue.

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Fighting Fish

Short Film, 1950 (Documentary)

Made for the New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau by independent company Neuline, this 1950 film promotes “New Zealand’s big-sea fighting fish” as an overseas tourist attraction. First stop is Mayor Island near Tauranga, then it’s off to the Bay of Islands to land mako shark and marlin. Neuline was one of a handful of independent production companies in postwar New Zealand; Neuline boss Robert Steele pioneered the commercial use of 16mm film here. Although the narration purports to be that of an overseas visitor, it is actually Selwyn Toogood, who narrated many of Steele’s films.

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The Adventures of Massey Ferguson - Fishing Contest (Series One, Episode 12)

Television, 2004 (Animation, Children)

This animated series for Kiwi kids follows Massey Ferguson, the red tractor who lives with his farm equipment family on Murray and Heather’s farm. In this 12th instalment, Murray takes his boat Lazy Daisy out to the Harbour to defend his title in the annual fishing contest. Murray has hooked a big one but when competition appears in the form of a rude four-wheel drive, it’s up to Massey to save the day. The series was created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from Flux Animation; Mora also narrates.