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Hero image for The Governor 1 - The Reverend Traitor (First Episode)

The Governor 1 - The Reverend Traitor (First Episode)

Television (Full Length Episode) – 1977

What good will your mana be when you are dead?
– Henry Williams (Grant Tilly) to his friend Hōne Heke (George Henare)
It's very pretty. But what do we shoot from it? Pork bones?
– Hōne Heke (George Henare) watches as his warriors pull a cannon into position
I failed you. I trusted in men. In God only can you trust.
– Henry Williams (Grant Tilly) apologies to Hōne Heke (George Henare), near the end of episode one
So much for the hard figures. The $64,000 question is; was the Grey series worth the money? One thing is certain to start with — humble pie will be on the menu in a lot of homes when The Governor begins screening in its prime time Sunday night slot on October 2. Judging by the three 20-minute excerpts shown to the press last week, the series will far eclipse any previous New Zealand film or television production — and a lot of imported ones too for that matter.
– An article published shortly before episode one aired, touching on controversy over the cost of The Governor, The Evening Post, 7 September 1977
The idea of Grey the great peacemaker, walking into the middle of battles and saying "peace, my children" and everybody putting down their guns and saying "Good Governor Grey" is terrible stuff to be inflicting on children.
– Governor writer Keith Aberdein on busting the old myths about George Grey, The Listener, 1 October 1977, page 38
As a fellow adulterer and master political manipulator, Muldoon may have identified with Grey.
– Governor writer Keith Aberdein reflects on Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s attacks on The Governor, in Aberdein's background piece for NZ On Screen (see 'Backgrounds' tab below the video player)
If the Governor stays, that will be better. You will have two fathers: you will have the Governor, and myself.
– Priest Henry Williams (Grant Tilly) tries to persuade a group of Māori to sign the Treaty of Waitangi
The decision to use the Māori language was courageous, I think, part of the integrity with which this whole thing was approached. In the past it's been lip service, Māori tokenism...
– Actor and Māori liaison Don Selwyn on the revolutionary decision to make extensive use of te reo in the series, The Listener, 1 October 1977, page 40
Stunt man for the series was a theatrical Russian named Jerry Popov...and he almost did. In an already well reported incident Popov, who, as a Māori, is hanged as an example of Grey's sternness with his "children", neglected an elementary rule of stunting and failed to test his body harness. He fell from the scaffold, the harness jerked up, constricting his Adam's apple, and Popov twitched and swayed. "Good actor" said the others ... Someone grabbed a broom and thrust it up under his crutch to take the pressure off his throat...
– A close call on the set of The Governor, The Listener, 1 October 1977, page 40
The challenges of bringing such an audacious project to life drew together the best in the business. It was a young industry, and the project stretched the boundaries of what they'd previously experienced and thought was achievable. But they made it happen. There are times when given sight of the end game and the collective drive, a group people work together, fire off one another and achieve results that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible...and The Governor was one of those.
– Joan Isaac, wife of late Governor producer/director Tony Isaac, 31 March 2022
The strong got stronger and the weak made excuses or drifted out.
– Governor producer/director Tony Isaac on staff attrition during the making of the show, The Listener, 1 October 1977, page 39
I don't think Tony [Isaac] or I ever pretended this was only entertainment ... we both believed that the best writing, the best drama, was subversive. With The Governor we were subverting, at the very least, some of the New Zealand smugness about what good chaps we were towards 'our' Māoris, what a model bicultural nation we were.
– Governor originator Michael Noonan on he and producer Tony Isaac's inspiration behind the show, in Trisha Dunleavy's book Ourselves in Primetime (2005), page 97
In keeping with [Hōne] Heke's reputation for theatre there is an air of comedy as the pole pitches down, time after time, against a clear blue northern sky. George Hēnare's Heke moves from challenging good humour to angry eloquence and then prescient melancholy as he comes to understand the full implications of colonial settlement.
– Writer Annabel Cooper on Hōne Heke repeatedly cutting down the flagpole in episode one, in her 2018 book Filming the Colonial Past - The New Zealand Wars on Screen, page 111
I will rid this country of the threat of war, whatever it takes.
– Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave) voices a promise to his wife Eliza (Judy Cleine)
First you must fix the matter of the land: the whenua. The whenua is being stolen. It is the whenua that men kill for.
– Te Rauparaha (Tamahina Tinirau) to Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave)
There is more to peace, Te Wiremu, than the absence of war. Now we shall be slaves to the Governor.
– Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke anticipates British dominance, after the battle at Ruapekapeka pā
You grieve for a flagpole? It does not have blood, or bones. If I cut it, it will feel no pain.
– Rebel chief Hōne Heke (George Henare) is perplexed by Henry William's advice not to provoke the British again
I know that New Zealand is a savage, miserable land; ungoverned, and without purpose. I can change that.
– Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave) to his wife Eliza (Judy Cleine)
Heke? Don't think yourself so good because you beat Heke. You have not fought the great ones. His uncle Hongi, yes. Even Nene. Te Wherewhero, Te Waharoa, Rauparaha. Don't think of me as you think of Heke. I am ten Hekes.
– Te Rauparaha (Tamahina Tinirau) to Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave), after Grey threatens to force peace on him, the same way he has on Hōne Heke
And what mischief are you up to, Johnny Heke?
– Teacher Marianne Williams (Anne Flannery) gives rebel chief Hōne Heke a telling off
Ah, Te Wiremu. Now I grieve for you even more than I grieve for me ... He has beaten me in battle; he is destroying you by stealth.
– Hōne Heke intuits Governor Grey's plan to undermine Henry Williams (Grant Tilly)
Governor, why are you not dressed for this occasion? Rauparaha is coming home. Where are the gunners to fire the guns? The guards to take me ashore? The salute?
– Legendary chief Te Rauparaha (Tamahina Tinirau) bemoans the lack of fanfare for his return to his tribal stronghold, near the end of episode one
Quite deliberately, and with the arrogance of relative youth, we'd set out to bring down a few flagpoles of our own. But as Hōne Heke understood, flagpole lowering has to be repeated.
– Governor writer Keith Aberdein, in his backgrounder for NZ On Screen (see 'Backgrounds' tab below the video player)
They've improved their aim with this new governor.
– Hōne Heke (George Henare) after a cannonball lands close by
He's a poor old man on whom you have spent two years trying to gather evidence so you could take him to trial, and you've failed.
– Eliza Grey (Judy Cleine) damns her husband George Grey after chief Te Rauparaha's return home, near the end of episode one
Pākehā takes their land, piece by piece. Te Wiremu, you are part of it. Was it for this I signed your Treaty? ... The Pākehā comes as the Norway rat came and ate up all the native rats.
– Hōne Heke (George Henare) regrets trusting the Crown and signing the Treaty of Waitangi, near the end of episode one
...no one could say the first episode of The Governor was, after all its pre-publicity, a let down, or anything like one. And of that we should be glad. Our isolation and small resources have hitherto seen our history get scant exposure on cinema and television screen. The Governor represents a giant step towards redressing that balance. And it has begun with a strength and maturity, allied with considerable skills, that both commands respect and evokes pride.
– Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw, 3 October 1977
If public service broadcasting is to be any use at all it should be telling us about our background ... about what our country is about, We'll be a better country in future if we all know where we come from. Kick me by all means if it's no good. But don't kick me for trying to do something I think is important to us all.
– TV One Head of Drama Michael Scott-Smith defends The Governor during an early press preview at Avalon, The Dominion, 3 September 1977
I have a vision of a country free of the problems and the bitterness that beset England — and the social inequities. A country where every man, no matter what the colour of his skin, can have a say in his affairs. And not only a say, but a say with the benefit of education. This country can be the first true democracy in history.
– Governor George Grey (Corin Redgrave) is asked his vision for New Zealand over dinner, by Archdeacon Henry Williams (Grant Tilly)
Had the producers only been content to stay in the north with their three main characters they could have explored — at much greater depth and in less time — all their main themes.
– NZ Herald reviewer Pamela Cunningham, 5 November 1977
...some very good acting performances contributed much to the credibility of it all. A solid, rounded performance by Grant Tilly as homely Henry Williams contrasted nicely with the hauteur of Corin Redgrave's Grey, a ruler radical in theory but autocratic in practice ... George Henare [is] quite splendid as Heke...
– Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw on this episode, 3 October 1977
...imaginative, authentic in feeling, reminiscent of many early sketches, strikingly beautiful, varied, full of character, crammed with incident, remarkably acted by Māori and Pākehā in that order...
– Listener reviewer Richard Campion praises The Governor, 1977, month unknown
Wiremu, You have been with us 20 years now, and still you do not understand mana.
– Hōne Heke (George Henare) to Henry Williams (Grant Tilly)
The Governor provoked letters to editors as it screened ... History buffs grumbled about historical detail and the use of the provocative phrase 'The Pākehā Wars' to replace the then-customary 'Māori Wars'. But the praise generally outweighed the objections. Several viewers wrote to contest Muldoon's attack on the cost of the series; they pointed out how much American history New Zealanders had seen on screen and how little of our own; that the quality of the series had amply justified the expense; and that they were willing to sacrifice a few lightweight entertainments for another historical epic.
– Writer Annabel Cooper summarises public reaction to The Governor found in letters to newspapers, in her 2018 book Filming the Colonial Past - The New Zealand Wars on Screen, page 123
The British commanding officer, Colonel Henry Despard, and Grey put about the story that the pā [Ruapekapeka] had been taken by assault on Sunday, 11 January, and that an attempt to regain it had been repulsed. In fact the pā had been deserted save for Kawiti and a handful of others ... Claims that Heke left the field of battle a beaten and broken man are groundless. On the contrary, his mana had increased and was maintained throughout the rest of his life. He and Kawiti had carefully chosen their battle sites and made successful strategic plans. They had made no attempt to intensify the war or involve resident Europeans; indeed, Heke took measures to protect them.
– Freda Rankin Kawharu in her 1990 profile of Hōne Heke, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography/Te Ara website
Salutation to you — I have received your kind letter to me. This is my letter expressing my love to you. My disease is great, but do not grieve about that. This is not the ever lasting abode of the body. Let God's will be done to us two. I will not say many more words because I am very ill. Give my regards to your wife, Lady Grey.
– Excerpt from one of the final letters written by Hōne Heke to George Grey, quoted from Freda Rankin Kawharu's profile of Heke, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography/Te Ara website

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