Tag Archives: amateur film

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Hilda Brodie Smith

Hilda Brodie Smith, of Porirua, wrote, directed and starred in a number of rather incredible documentaries during the 1960s. Her work was so distinctive and professional that she regularly won prizes in cine club competitions.

Hilda’s films have recently been restored by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and film conservator Richard Faulkner talks about the process in this feature by Radio New Zealand.

12 of the newly preserved films can be watched on our online catalogue, here.


Feature image: Hilda Brodie Smith, My Nature Diary (1965).


Hawke’s Bay on Film 1913 – 1985

- By Jane Paul (Community Programme Coordinator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Recently Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and Historic Places Hawke’s Bay showed a compilation of films focused on Hawke’s Bay history in MTG’s beautiful theatre in Napier.

MTG Theatre.
MTG Theatre.

People started arriving an hour early, and soon the foyer was crammed with people ranging in age from 2 months to 95 years!

Fifteen-year-old Bonnie Allen – who provided musical accompaniment for the silent films – set herself up at the grand piano, and people streamed into the cinema.

Audience members gathered for “Hawke’s Bay on Film.”

The programme began with a look at the fishing industry in 1913 –  a fascinating glimpse of life on the trawlers and the use of carrier pigeons to convey information about the catch back to the mainland. Sunny Napier – The Brighton of New Zealand (1929) kept the audience enthralled with scenes of old, pre-earthquake Napier.

Interestingly, Alec Douglas Lambourne’s film of the great earthquake in Hastings drew the most applause. Continue reading


Hands Across the Ocean: Filming the 1953 London to Christchurch Air Race

By Virginia Callanan (Information Management Advisor, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

“Amateurs everywhere will be heartened by the vigour with which their colleagues can rise to the occasion and so zealously prepare the ground for a triumph of amateur movies” – Amateur Cine World, February 1954.

Amateur Cine World, XVII (10), February 1954. Front cover.
“Amateur Cine World,” XVII (10), February 1954. Front cover. Periodicals Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision. Courtesy of Janet Wilkinson.

Amateur Cine World, the English film enthusiasts’ magazine, is well-represented in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Documentation Collection. Within these issues you find surprisingly frequent mention of New Zealand ciné clubs. One article from the February 1954 issue is titled “A Girdle Round the Earth,” a reference to Puck’s line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “I’ll put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes.”

To fly half way around the world in 1953 took just under 24 hours, and the Christchurch Movie Club enthusiasts made a film of it. This was the London to Christchurch International Air Race in which five planes competed in a speed section, and three in the commercial passenger section, celebrating 50 years of powered flight.

The resulting film showed not only the Christchurch landings, but also the London departures. This was achieved by:

“one of the most heartening examples to date of initiative and selfless teamwork among amateurs… which has extended across thousands of miles of ocean.” [1]

In London, with the support of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers, members agreed to set the scene and document the formal start of the race. This exposed film was then given to the crew onboard one of the Canberra aircraft entered in the speed section. The crew also had a ciné camera and filmed their journey from onboard. Continue reading