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A documentary series that gives history to New Zealand’s past via the retelling of the country’s geological construction, the eventual Maori settlement circa 1250 AD and the European ‘discovery’, and later usurpation, of Aotearoa from the late 18th century. Using voiceover, dramatic reconstruction, footage and stills from the country’s archives and a mixture of Maori myth and European history the series constructs a narrative that binds together the multiplicity of New Zealand’s stories.

“This episode tells the story of New Zealand under the first Labour government, from 1935 to 1949.  Radical reforms were introduced and the country struggled through another world war. It was a time of "hope and heroes".
The programme begins with the election of the Labour government on 27 November 1935.  We see working people welcoming their new hero, Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.  A man of warmth and empathy, he was soon regarded by many as a secular saint.
We watch as Labour advocates a bold new idea, freedom from want and fear.  The cuts of the Great Depression are reversed, state horses built and "social security" introduced. Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, the Maori prophet and healer, brings his popular movement in behind the government.
Labour recognised the importance of the new mass media, radio, and took over most of the private stations.  We see and hear the great broadcasters of the era, James Shelley, Uncle Scrim and Aunt Daisy.
But as the country celebrated its centenary in 1940, its optimism was checked by another great crisis, the opening shots of the Second World War.
New Zealand committed itself to a total war effort.  We watch as the men sail off to fight and the women move into farming and industry.  Maori too supported the war, through the Maori Battalion and the Maori War Effort Organisation.
We see our sailors, soldiers and airmen going into action.  In 1941 the army division suffered heavy casualties in a series of disasters in Greece, Crete and North Africa.  But as the tide of war turned, defeats were replaced by victories.
Then the war came close to home, as the Japanese advanced into the South Pacific.  American troops arrived to help protect New Zealand and had a dramatic effect on many people, especially young women.
We watch as the war finally comes to an end in August 1945 and our men return home.  The Labour government tried to provide "a land fit for heroes" but ongoing shortages and controls irritated many people.  It was time for a change and in the 1949 election, after fourteen years in power, Labour was finally defeated." TVNZ;; 30/06/2006

Interviews: Jim Edwards, Barry Gustafson (Historian), Margaret McClure (Historian), Ben Schrader (Historian), Patrick Day (Historian), Ray Wallis, Vic Henderson. Monty Soutar (Historian), Alice Fraser, Tom Larkin (Former Diplomat), John Crawford (Historian), Bob Harvey (Achilles), Owen Foster (Former RNZAF), Haddon Donald, Ian Johnston (Crete Veteran), Sonja Davies, Ted Gobbs (Former Home Guard).

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Request information

Year 2005

Reference number F92464

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image


Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Television

Duration 0:50:02

Production company Top Shelf, Whakapapa Productions

Location information

Taonga Māori Collection Yes

Credits Narrator: Peter Elliott
Director: Mike Bennett
Producer: Ray Waru
Producer: Vincent Burke
Director of Photography: Murray Milne
Director of Photography: Grant Atkinson
Offline Editor: Colin Hodson
Offline Editor: Chris Todd
Online Editor: James Brakenbury
Researcher: Louise Callan
Researcher: Jayne Cooper
Researcher: David Filer
Researcher: Jane Dowell
Researcher: Kay Seatter-Dunbar
Researcher: Sue Younger

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