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07 AUGUST 2016

1974 documentary about Aotearoa New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere

"Directed by Sam Pillsbury, this 1974 film observes Ralph Hotere — one of New Zealand's greatest artists — at a moment when excitement is gathering about his work. Lauded as a 'classic' by Ian Wedde, the documentary is framed around the execution of a watershed piece: a large mural Hotere was commissioned to paint for Hamilton's Founders Theatre. Interviews with friends and associates — poets Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire, art critics, officials and dealers — are intercut with fascinating shots of Hotere working (including making art by photocopying or 'xerography')."

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TAGS

197420th century artabstract artists • Ad Reinhardt • Aotearoa New Zealandart critics • art dealer • art documentary • art historian • artist • Barry Lett • Bill Manhire • Brian Shennan • David Fowler • Dunedinfine art • Founders Theatre • geometric abstraction • Gordon Brown (art historian) • Hamilton • Hone Tuwhare • Ian Wedde • Jack Body • John Scott • Land Wars • Landfall (literary journal) • Lynton Diggle • MaorimuralNew Zealand artistNew Zealand on ScreenNZ Film ArchiveNZ On Screenpainting • photocopying • Port ChalmersRalph Hotere • Rodney Kirk-Smith • Roger Collins • Sam Pillsbury • spray painting • Te Aupouri • Te Rarawa • visual artist • xerography

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 APRIL 2014

Battle of Orakau anniversary fuels call for national day of remembrance

English Google translation: "It would be an understatement to say the Prime Minister John Key was challenged today as he attended the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ōrākau. Hundreds of Maori and Pakeha turned up to support the call to commemorate NZ Land Wars. Therein lies the strength of the challenge to the PM. The time has come for all of NZ, Maori and non–Maori alike, to be counted in honouring our nation's history. For a long time we have commemorated battles fought overseas. We need to start officially commemorating the ones fought in NZ. The PM appears indifferent. Mataatua descendants returned to the site of battle where their ancestors fought.

I'm excited to see so many people here today. Their ancestors came to this site to support the cause and their descendants have now come back today. Today, ancestors who fell in battle on this very site at Orakau 150 years ago were remembered. Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato, and all of Tainui are grateful to all iwi who have come to Orakau to share in this experience to commemorate all ancestors who died during the Battle of Orakau. The coming together of iwi.

They've been dubbed the 'Orakau 300'. and today it's Orakau 3000 who have arrived to remember their ancestors who died 150 years ago.

Secondary students from a local school have started a petition to make today an official day of remembrance. If the message hasn't sunk in for the PM, Mataatua and Tauranga iwi will remind him at Gate Pa at the end of this month. Potaka Maipi, Te Karere."

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TAGS

150th anniversary • 2014ancestorsanniversaryAotearoa New Zealand • Battle at Orakau • Battle of Orakau • civil warcolonial historycolonial power • colonial times • colonisationcommemorationconflicthistoryindigenous historyiwiJohn KeyLand WarsMaoriMaori grievancemilitary conflict • national day of remembrance • national heritage • national history • Ngati Maniapoto • Ngati Raukawa • official day of remembrance • Orakau • Pakeharemembrance • Tainui • Waikatowarwhite settlement

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 JANUARY 2011

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

"What is Te Ara? 'Te ara' in Māori means 'the pathway'. Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand offers many pathways to understanding New Zealand. When complete, it will be a comprehensive guide to the country's peoples, natural economy, institutions and society. ...

An important feature of Te Ara is its Māori content. The Māori perspective is presented with each theme, and entries with substantial Māori content are available in the Māori language."

(Aotearoa New Zealand, Ministry for Culture and Heritage)

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TAGS

Aotearoa New ZealandAucklandcatalogueChristchurchCommonwealthcultural heritageDunedinencyclopaediaheritagehistoryIndigenousLand WarsMaori • Ministry for Culture and Heritage • national cultural heritage onlineOtagoPacificPakehasocietySouth Island • Te Ara • Te Tiriti o Waitangi • the pathway • Treaty of WaitangiWellington

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 MAY 2009

Speculation about New Zealand's economic value and advantage in 1866

"THE FUTURE OF COLONIES.

(From the Melbourne Argus.)
Will Victoria be the foremost of Australian colonies in the future? Hitherto we have not permitted ourselves to doubt it ; but then it is only quite lately that events in New Zealand have been calling attention to the extraordinary resources and prospects of that country. Long secluded, petty, and almost unnoticed, the settlements in those islands have suddenly sprung into a prominence and importance which recall the progress of our own early days. Communities are quickly built up in these regions of the far south, which were a hemisphere of mystery to the old world a few short years ago. The turn of New Zealand is fast coming ; within four or five years she has doubled her inhabitants. Population is multiplying, not only on the auriferous hillsides and terraces of Otago and Westland, but in the province of Auckland, furthest removed from the goldfields. Her bound into importance has been so sudden that those great islands have not been oven named yet. Countries as largo as England and Scotland are only distinguished as the North and South Islands – the native appellations, unlike native ones in general, being in this instance too clumsy and long–winded for every day use ; while as for the common term New Zealand, it cannot, of course, serve for the future, and, as inappropriate and absurd, its withdrawal was long since determined on. If their present extraordinary advance be sustained, those islands will be soon well on the path to that magnificent destiny which, from their geographical position and great natural opportunities, was predicted for them by the thoughtful in England long before the first of our settlements was formed on their shores. Perhaps it is in climate that New Zealand has the most striking advantage over the Australian continent. Being very mountainous, surrounded by the ocean, and far from any other land, there are no desert winds, and the moisture is perennial, and at all seasons reliable. The country is about the size of Great Britain, but the shape being much more elongated, there are greater varieties of temperature ; for while the sugar cane, it is suspected, would grow in the peninsula of the extreme north, antarctic breezes give to the south the winter of Britain. As a whole, however, the climate has been compared, not unjustly, to that of Great Britain in its vicissitudes at all seasons, and its influence on the soil and the human constitution. There is no country, therefore, better adapted for the transplantation of the Anglo–Saxon and Celtic races, with a successful perpetuation of the original type. It is entirely because of the difference of climate between New Zealand and the archipelagos of the Pacific that the Maoris are so much more energetic, industrious, and masculine, than their soft kinsmen of the Sandwich and Society Islands. And the earth, like the air, seems fashioned for the development of a great nation. Noble harbors indent the coasts ; great and deep rivers, hundreds of yards wide, hundreds of miles long, traverse the plains ; the mountains are as high as those of Switzerland, the forests as majestic as in the tropics. And over so many degrees of latitude almost all useful plants, except those exclusively of the torrid zone, can find congenial growth–all cereals, from the hardy oat and rye which need the cold, to rice and maize which love the sun–all fruits and vegetables and their products, except, perhaps wine, for which the restlessness of the atmosphere may not be well suited–all minerals, from gold, the most artificially valuable, to iron and coal, the most useful, are found. Then the constant verdure affords unlimited scope for grazing, and the adjacent seas yield abundance of fish. Just now the South Island has the largest population because of the gold–fields, has in more permanent advantages the North is vastly superior. It has not its neighbor's severe winters, the mountain masses do not engross so much of its surface, the extent of fertile land is far greater, and the navigable rivers have longer courses. The North Island must be the principal seat of agriculture and of internal and external trade.

The two islands are rising into importance so fast, and their chief seats of population are so very distant from each other, that their formation into two colonies cannot be long postponed. The late removal of the capital to the town of Wellington on the dividing strait, as a central situation, was almost superfluous in the present aspect of affairs. It is not a central seat of Government that the islands are now asking for, but distinct Governments, as they have distinct interests. The South has only a couple of native tribes, and no Maori wars, and grumbles at being taxed for the expense ; while the North has no gold–fields or digging populations. Already, therefore, the chief communities in both quarters are agitating for separation. Our New Zealand correspondent mentions in his last letter that Auckland is to make common cause in the General Assembly, which has just met, with Otago and Canterbury on this subject, and these three provinces have twice and a–half as many in habitants as the other six.

As for the grand old native war race, it is fast passing away without fulfilling the dream of Sydney Smith, of amalgamating with its supplanters. Diffenbach estimated the Maoris at 115,000 in the beginning of the present century. In 1861, an estimate based on a recent census returned them as 55,336. Now, says our correspondent, nobody believes that they exceed 40,000 souls. That which was probably their last war with us is virtually at an end. Most of our regular forces leaving, no longer necessary in New Zealand. Subdued and hopeless, a fatal despair has seized upon the proud Maori that dull depression, that tedium vite which smites with the hand of death. Among the tribes which have submitted the mortality is described as astonishing. Without the presence of epidemic or other active cause, two hundred individuals of some small hapus near Raglan died off within two months. The Maori is departing over the rock of the Reinga – the gateway of the land of spirits. Centuries hence, when millions of civilised, and therefore superior, men occupy the plains and mountains, the valor and the fate of the ancient owners of the land will be the theme of many a tradition, of many a poetic fancy. Time will lend its embellishment, and history will not forget the gallant aborigines of New Zealand."
(The Brisbane Courier, Tuesday 14 August 1866)

[A rather enlightening article from 1866. The article was retrieved through using the Australian Newspapers beta which was developed by the National Library of Australia as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program.

The photo shows a National Provincial Council mining licence from 1884 (source).]

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TAGS

1866 • agricultureAnglo-SaxonAotearoa New ZealandAucklandAustralia • Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program • Canterbury • Celtic • colonydatabaseEnglandgeographyGreat BritainIndigenouslandLand WarslibraryMaoriMelbourne • Melbourne Argus • National Library of Australia • NLA • Otago • Sandwich Islands • ScotlandsearchsettlementSociety IslandsSouth IslandSwitzerland • Sydney Smith • tradeVictoria (Australia) • Westland

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 FEBRUARY 2004

Planet Magazine: Don't Skimp on the Short Ends!

"Budding film directors are seen everywhere these days – playing the waiting game – poised to catch a moment with all those successful writers and others that make the Atomic their second home. At night they wander further down Ponsonby Road to 'the Lizard' to convince some adman or producer that their idea for a short thriller is going to really slay them at the Film Festival. You used to have to be a musician to have credibility on the street. Now the worm, as they say, has turned – you've got to be working on your short for some pull in the cafés and on the pavement.

So how do you get there? What it takes is a good idea. Ideas, as Peter Jackson says, are the currency of movies. Without them, you're stuffed. But just what is a good idea? Certainly not a story about your grandmother's journey back from the shops with a bag of oranges. That could be interesting if your grandmother is a gun–toting maniac who holds up the greengrocer. That would be stepping outside the bounds of decency – always good in the film medium – and if you're as clever as Quentin Tarantino, the end violence, laced with humour, could prove a real winner.

Real film–makers are too busy working to be seen holding court over endless lattes. They're working or in endless correspondence with the Film Commission. For the aspirants, there's always the Arts Council, but it's really a lottery as far as this funding body goes. A couple of years ago you'd have thought all they were into was funding 'quirky comedies'. Oh dear! Everyone likes a laugh, but really? Far better if the end product is going to comment on the film process or have some edge. Edge is big these days for such a little word. And since the Arts Council and the Film Commission endlessly review their respective positions on the types of projects they are into getting off the ground, the more experimental the better. Don't be blinded by the glam, the film is just the end result of a process fraught with so much peril that the faint–hearted would surely wilt under the demands. Just ask Simon Raby, a well–known young director of photography who's usually too busy shooting other people's films to worry about his own. But now he has his first film as a fully–fledged director, Headlong, through the usual drama of post–production and has even sent off a tape to Cannes.

Raby reckons Headlong is another in the battle–of–the–sexes genre, and who am I to argue? But I will anyway. It sounds to me more like a road–movie–westie–comedy–genre with its story of Goth Westie Jude (newcomer and Lounge Singer Meryl Main) hitching and being picked up by Eastern Suburbs computer salesman Arthur, played by Tim Balme, on State Highway One. Of course, they hate each other.

Funded out of the Short Film Fund by the Film Commission, Raby has hooked up some extra marketing opportunity for his grunged film, with a release through Warners of the Headlong soundtrack, a CDingle by Four, the band known in the film as Deathface. A video is even on the offing. You get the idea. This is not a film for the sophisticated film–goer – it's aimed plum at the kids. Raby says he wants as many blue–collar workers as possible to see it, ideally screening at the New Lynn Village 8 during lunchtimes.

While he's waiting for the call from the Film Commission to say he's been selected for un certain regard (which he doubts), Raby is behind the camera again shooting a prison reform doco and doing a freebie for Harry Sinclair in the weekends.

Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, is a project which Raby raves about. It's an example of the old ethos – if you've got a good idea, go out there and do it, before your killer script gets turned down by the Arts Council and the Film Commission. Starring the kids who just want to have fun, Danielle Cormack and Joel Tobeck, Topless Women is three–minute episodes shot on Betacam to be strung together in a serial. Everyone goes out to the suburbs, shoots for half a day, then they edit, get their episode together and do the same next weekend.

I mean face it, an illustrious film career is not generally started with your own brooding masterpiece first up. You've got to limber up, take some chances, try out stuff, see if your twisted vision will work. You do have to make sure the thing's going to cut together though; you've got to match your shots. A select few can get away with not worrying over such pedantic considerations. Case in point a not–so–youthful–filmcritic called Jean Luc Godard launching his career in 1959 with the lurching Breathless – a film that jump cuts like a 64–frame–per–second gazelle through a homage to Bogart and that peculiar French obsession with self known as existentialism.

Looking at self through sex is also big with the French and is the plot for a new short called A Little Death. It's a very French idea this un petite mort. But then the guys that made it, Paul Swadel and Simon Perkins, the latest co–directing crew, are big fans of the man before he got really weird later on. Just ask them about Alphaville – no don't! Let's hear about their little movie.

The production blurb in OnFilm read, A Little Death – two people whose relationship's in tatters, have a final sexual encounter and get trapped in the orgasm zone.

What benchmarks exist for being stranded in demon love? I'm sure there's plenty, but here it's like no other. Original. Jo Davison and Jed Brophy star. You'll know Jo. She's Gina, a much–missed character from Shortland Street. Jed on the other hand hasn't put in an appearance on the soap, but he sure does turn heads every time he performs. He's athletic, and has great energy. These two together embody 'an extreme hybrid' of Love and Hate. This is the film where the tattoos on Robert Mitchum's burly hands in Night of the Hunter become real. The knuckles are bared, there's little talk and a soundtrack that Swadel says sounds like 'Wagner crossed with Sonic Youth'.

It opens with a scene straight out of the French 60s. It's a bedroom. The lighting casts a menacing yellow glow. You know it's going to be torrid.

She's just come home. He's stewing. The ashtray is overflowing. Been sitting there smoking cigarettes all night. She's been out cheating on him. He's cheated on her. Both are very pissed off. Neither is prepared to apologise. She gets on top, intending to use him as gym equipment. They wrestle with each other. Orgasm is hit. Whiteout! Sharp flames of light! The fall through a gaping hole in the kapok mattress is the apex of a bad trip. And that's just the first scene.

From there the existential quotient climbs. The emotional barrier is extended to a physical one. He is suspended bleeding and hurt in a void. She's in a photocopied room, devoid of colour, drained of emotion, surrounded by various versions of He, and a version of Her watching on.

'The only way they're going to be able to get out is by helping each other,' says Swadel adding, 'But hey – we get to shunt them through hell first – heh heh.'

'It's a western,' says Perkins, 'as indeed all films are.' Employing his film–tutor vernacular, he elaborates on the plot.

'Gun–slinger meets ex–gun–slinger for one last shoot–out. The stare–down, the gun–down, where the best six–gun goes off to another town and the stirred– up clod–busters go back to their homesteads at sunset.'

And by hokey, 'with or without a Stetson, it's all classical narrative storytelling.'

Everyone may be just re–making westerns, as Rachel Anderson literally is with Para Recorder ... In a town called Tenacity, a lonesome bandito, recounts the story of the woman he loved and lost ... Sounds like a bit too much parmesan for my liking. Instead of hitching their wagon to territory mapped by Sergio 'the Magnificent' Leone, the directors of A Little Death, fleshed out their idea by trying to reverse the usual David Lynch scenario. Lynch is always big with budding directors. He's got young screen style, uses hip music and likes freaks. He starts with characters as innocents and puts them through hell to see what will become of them. In A Little Death, we find the characters to be inflexible, unyielding, far from innocent – they land in hell and might just get back from it innocent; if they're lucky.

Exploring the enduring theme of vexed sexuality in the age where sex is dangerous is very appealing to Swadel and Perkins and seems to be the obsession of an entire generation. Perkins and Swadel are, 'sort of straight', but had pieces placed in the gay section of last year's Auckland Film Feast. Confusing? Some weren't amused.

Maybe it has something to do with the intentions to overturn conventional film logic. Just a another co–directing team (Pardington & McKenzie made their female lead the protagonist in The Mout and The Truth, Swadel and Perkins push their female lead, and for quite similar reasons.

'We just like characters to be bastards and bitches.' She ain't no femme fatale, swooning for her lost love, but you couldn't really say she's a bitch either. She is too afraid. Still she doesn't panic. She searches for her way out, looking through his eyes.

Do they get out? What's it like to be trapped in orgasm? Could anyone really bear it? Swadel and Perkins are now both back tutoring at Waikato Polytechnic. Working in such supportive surroundings, they've had the chance to cut their film digitally on an Avid, the swanky non–linear editing system. If a band were recording in analogue, mixing in digital and then releasing vinyl, what you'd get is the process A Little Death has been through prior to its release overseas at a few select festivals before it gets seen here. This is so they'll have some pithy quotes from overseas film critics to stick on the poster for the short film festivals here.

This is where the producer steps in. The producer is the person who keeps the investors happy. That man is James Wallace, well known for making a fortune in animal by–products and getting behind those shining lights of gay cinema, Stewart Main and Peter Wells. Main has just shot a short which was produced by Michelle Fantl for Zee Films. It's a homo–erotic love story set during the land wars of the 1860s and filmed in the rain–forest bush of Honeymoon Valley, just off south of Northland's Kaitaia.

An extremely strenuous shooting schedule requiring both actors to be naked for 10 days of pouring rain, tested both cast and crew to the limit.

Pre–production saw actors Marton Csokas and Marae presenter Greg Mayor on location, cutting scrub. Csokas, now all over Europe with the success of last year's Game With No Rules, had his hair bleached hype the contrast between he and Mayor.

Pushing his crew with Herzog–like fever, Stewart Main has gone to the extreme of his vision as a gay man and artist working in New Zealand and may well land most acclaimed short of the year. With the country focussed on the renewed resurgence of Maori grievance, this is a film that cuts to the core in an appropriation of history for its own ends. Absolutely bravura film–making, inspired by the most difficult conditions, is not easy.

Of course all short film directors want to make features. And frankly we should be grateful that Stewart Main has had the chance to limber up before he starts shooting in Sydney for You're My Venus, the feature starring Rena Owen as a trans–sexual. Already the script, written by Main, Garth Maxwell and Debra Daley, has been described by the incredibly influential William Morris Agency in New York as a radiant, exquisite jewel of a script ... an inspiring achievement ... if the film fulfills the raw potential of the script, it will certainly expand the boundaries of cinema (as for example Pulp Fiction did this year). This is a wildly, wonderfully liberated film, in every sense of the word.

Praise such as this is not lightly earned. That script had been 'in development' for five years. True genius, as they say, is 90 per cent graft and 10 per cent inspiration. But that's not to say you shouldn't just get a camera, and put it on time–lapse in the street. Call it Walk Tall. Or better still, film a fly crawling, or a man sleeping. It was enough for Warhol. Then again you could always work every weekend for two years shooting a gore–filled escapist fantasy about aliens taking over Island Bay.

The Film Commission will love it."

(Paul Shannon, 1995)

Paul Shannon (1995). "Don't Skimp on the Short Ends!", Planet (magazine) Issue 16 Autumn 1995 pp.26,27.

Fig.1 Natalie Robertson (1994). Jeanne (Jo Davison) holds a paper cut–out of Jules (Jed Brophy).

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TAGS

1860s1995A Game with No RulesA Little DeathAlphavilleAotearoa New Zealand • appropriation of history • ashtray • Atomic cafe • Auckland Film Feast • Avid Media Suite Probastard • battle-of-the-sexes • bedroomBetacam SP • bitch • budding film directors • cafe latte • cast and crew • cheating • classical narrative storytelling • clod-buster • co-directing • co-directing team • conventional logic • Creative New Zealand • Creative NZ • credibility on the street • Danielle CormackDavid Lynch • Debra Daley • demon love • devoid of colour • director of photography • drained of emotion • emotional barrier • escapist fantasy • ex-gunslinger • existentialism • expanding the boundaries of cinema • femme fatalefilm • film career • film directorfilm funding • film logic • film producerfilmmakerfreaks • Garth Maxwell • gay • Greg Mayor • gun-down • gunslingergym equipmentHarry Sinclairhell • hip music • hitching their wagon • hole • homestead • homoerotic • homoeroticism • Honeymoon Valley • Humphrey Bogart • Island Bay • James WallaceJean-Luc GodardJed Brophy • Jo Davison • Joel Tobeck • Kaitaia • killer script • Land Wars • love and hate • love storyMaori grievanceMarton Csokas • mattress • menacing yellow glow • Meryl Main • Michelle Fantl • mixing in digital • naked • Neil Pardington • New Lynn • New Zealand Arts Council • New Zealand Film Commission • Night of the Hunter • non-linear editing • Onfilm Magazine • orgasm • orgasm zone • Para Recorder • Paul Shannon • Paul SwadelPeter JacksonPeter Wellspetite mort • photocopied room • photocopy • physical barrier • pissed off • Planet (magazine) • playing the waiting game • Ponsonby Road • pouring rain • pulp fictionQuentin Tarantino • quirky comedy • Rachel Anderson • rainforest • re-make • recording in analogue • releasing on vinyl • Rena Owen • road-movie-westie-comedy-genre • Robert Mitchum • Sergio Leonesexsexual encountershooting scheduleshootout • short ends • short film • short film directors • short film festival • Shortland Street • Simon PerkinsSimon Raby • six-gun • smoking cigarettessoap operaSonic Youth • stare-down • Stewart Main • Stuart Mckenzie • success • sunset • The Coming of Age of The New Zealand Short Film • Tim Balme • timelapse • Topless Women Talk About Their Lives • torrid • transsexual • Tuatara Bar • unyielding • versions • vexed sexuality • void • Wagner • WaikatoWaikato Institute of Technology • Waikato Polytechnic • walk tall • watching • Werner Herzog • western film genre • whiteout • William Morris Agency • wrestle with • young screen style • Zee Films

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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