Promotional material for film screenings.

Revisiting the films of Jan and Luit Bieringa

3 Jul 2023
We reflect on the documentary films of Jan and Luit Bieringa and our time working with them, ahead of the National Library's special screenings of their films.

The films of Jan and the late Luit Bieringa shine in the halls of Aotearoa New Zealand’s independent documentary history. They explore, with balanced perspective, artistic personalities and important events which have contributed to our culture and ongoing discussions about it – from the lives and work of photographer Ans Westra and art dealer Peter McLeavey, to New Zealand’s transformational shift to a bicultural and arts-centred education system following WWII.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was privileged to work with Jan and Luit on the supply of collection material for some of their documentaries. It was a productive association, with the Bieringas gaining access to audiovisual material to help inform and develop their films, while Ngā Taonga worked to deliver on our mission as a national archive to make the audiovisual collections we hold widely accessible.

We were excited to learn that our friends at the National Library, one year on from the passing of Luit Bieringa, are hosting a special series of screenings of five of their documentaries.

All are welcome to these free events – details here.

In 2018, we were happy to be the venue hosts for a screening of their documentary The Man in the Hat, which was followed by this in-person Q&A.

The Man in the Hat post-screening Q&A at our former premises on Taranaki Street (2018).

Our work with the Bieringas over the years illustrates an important and enduring relationship between the preservation of history and our ability to retell it. As knowledge was once handed down through oral stories it can now be safeguarded and accessed in the collections of our national archives – to be retold through mediums such as the illuminating documentaries of Jan and Luit Bieringa.

We are grateful for their collaboration and support of the Archive.

Rudall and Ramai Hayward, The Arts of Māori Children (1962) – material supplied from the Ngā Taonga collection, ref. F22404.