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Moving image
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Media type
Moving image
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Place of production
New Zealand/Aotearoa
NZFA Screening
Production company

Underwater, a ship is a different being to that which carried people across the world. She becomes less distinguishable as she is coloured by the sea and twisted by the elements. In the shallows of the ocean, a wrecked ship will inevitably become a challenge for divers as stories emerge of salvage, crayfish and artefact. However, a ship’s story beings much earlier than her sinking and is entangled with the lives of sailors. A diver usually only sees the last chapter of what can be a very long and eminent career.

As F69, the former HMNZS Wellington, prepares to become one of Wellington’s notable dive attractions in November, the Film Archive had collated a series of films reflecting over 80 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy’. From ship construction to war, a number of ‘firsts’ are highlighted as is naval life onboard ship - both work and relaxation.

Programme curated and introduced by Ailsa Cain, intern from the Masters in Museums and Heritage Studies, Victoria University

DV (from 35mm, 16mm & 8mm), B&W/colour, silent/sound, 58 minutes, Exempt

A Ship Sails Home, 1962, Excerpt
National Film Unit
(originally 16mm), colour, sound 6 minutes
The 1961 maiden voyage of the frigate HMNZS Otago, the first ship purpose built for the Royal New Zealand Navy. Crewed by New Zealanders, the ship travels from Southampton to Port Chalmers. Over the three month period a NFU film crew follows the daily operations of the frigate and her crew.

Auckland’s Reception to the Battleship HMS New Zealand, 1913
Dominion (NZ) Film Manufacturing Co
(originally 35mm), B&W, silent, 2 minutes
The single surviving fragment of one of a number of films taken during the visit by HMS New Zealand to New Zealand in 1913. The courtesy call to Auckland on 29 April was part of an extended visit to New Zealand to show off the battlecruiser donated to Britain by the New Zealand Government. The pride that New Zealanders showed in their ship is indicated by the crowds that flocked to see it and the enthusiastic response to the films in the theatres. Filmed by Charles Newham.

Life on New Zealand Troopships, 1914, Excerpts
(originally 35mm), B&W, silent, 2 minutes
Unique footage taken of the sailing of the ships of the Australia and New Zealand convoy from King George’s Sound, Western Australia on 1 November 1914. The major part of the film concentrates on the sailing of the 36 ships carrying the Main Bodies of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). The Australian transports sailed first in three divisions totalling 26 ships, followed by the New Zealand Division of 10 ships.

Warship, 1995, Excerpts
Ninox Films
(originally video), colour, sound, 12 minutes
Follows the refit and training of the crew of the frigate HMNZS Wellington. Culminates in the 24 hour MLOC (Minimum Level of Capability) examination. It was the “first time women have been through a work up on a fighting ship in the New Zealand Navy.”

Navy: Royalist’s Family Day, 1957
from Pictorial Parade 64, National Film Unit
(originally 16mm) B&W, sound, 2 minutes
The new Navy cruiser Royalist, “one of the most modern light cruisers afloat” under the command of Captain Pound, is welcomed at Waitemata Harbour in Auckland. 300 wives, children and sweethearts are invited on board for a family day before it sails to the Middle East for a 15-month tour of duty.

Nuclear Reaction: Fifty Years of the Bomb, 1995, Excerpts
George Andrews Productions
(originally video), colour, sound, 8 minutes
Nuclear Reaction examines New Zealand’s changing role and attitudes towards nuclear weapons since the end of World War Two, focusing on Norman Kirk’s attempts to rid the Pacific of nuclear testing by taking the HMNZS Otago to Muroroa Atoll in protest. Contains interviews with members of that voyage, shot onboard HMNZS Waikato, and dramatic footage of the French Navy boarding the protest vessel Free.

Taupo and Hawea in Korea, 1950, Excerpts
(originally 16mm), B&W/colour, silent, 5 minutes
Shows the activities on board the HMNZS Hawea and Taupo during their tour of operations as a part of K-Force around the Korean peninsula. Officers and ratings crossing the Equator for the first time are subjected to the notorious – and hilarious – “Neptune Ceremony.”

Charting the Sea – HMNZS Lachlan, 1953
from Pictorial Parade 14, National Film Unit
(originally 16mm), B&W, sound, 6 minutes
The Royal New Zealand Navy’s first hydrographic survey ship Lachlan heads for the seas off Banks Peninsula to complete a hydrographic survey of the area’s coastal waters. The crew work through the night charting the area and collecting samples of the sea bottom to be passed onto the fishing industry.

Ocean Frontiers, 1979, Excerpts
Pacific Films for the Ministry of Defence
(originally 35mm), colour, sound, 5 minutes
In 1979, Russia, Korea and Japan are the only foreign fisheries licensed to fish in New Zealand waters. Under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries members of the New Zealand Navy and Air Force monitor fishing activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The Navy approaches a Russian vessel and requests an invitation to board. Once on board, a party from the HMNZS Taupo carry out an inspection of documents and nets to ensure full compliance with New Zealand laws.

War at Sea & Graf Spee Adventure, 1939 , Excerpts
(originally 8mm) B&W, silent, 5 minutes
Using footage shot from HMS Achilles’ and film taken from contemporary newsreels, War at Sea & Graf Spee Adventure recounts the Battle of the River Plate ending with footage of the scuttled German battlecruiser Graf Spee. The filmmaker was the Achilles’ Gunnery Officer [Lieutenant - check] (later Rear Admiral) Washbourn

Barrier Island, 1970s, Excerpts
Robert Steele Productions
(originally 16mm) B&W, silent, 5 minutes
Diving off the HMNZS Parore a team of navy scuba-divers investigate a shipwreck near Barrier Island. One diver finds a crayfish in the wreck and items, including a porthole, are salvaged from the wreck.