NZ'S FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY 2014–2019

For King and Country: New Zealand's First World War on Film

A 70-minute film programme which shows New Zealand’s experience of the First World War.

This 70-minute film programme shows films which cover New Zealand’s experience of the First World War. Excerpts from 38 films and a variety of still images from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s collection and other archives in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom are included.

The programme is presented thematically and covers the history of film making in New Zealand and life prior to the war. It shows soldiers training and departing as well as shipboard life. There is footage of NZEF soldiers in Egypt, Gallipoli, Europe and the Middle East, as well as the work of the medical corps. There are also rare glimpses of life at the homefront in New Zealand, including the first conscription ballot, fundraising activities and an intimate home movie. It finishes with activities surrounding the armistice in the UK and New Zealand, the return home of the Māori Contingent, and the unveiling of the Messines Ridge memorial in Belgium, in 1924.

Films made during this time were all silent, however, they were never presented silently. They were usually accompanied by a narrator and a pianist, or even an orchestra. To match the spirit of the time we have recorded a commentary to explain what is happening in the films and commissioned a contemporary soundtrack to re-create the cinema-going experience, with a modern twist.

The programme was compiled by Ngā Taonga’s Research Co-ordinator, James Taylor and Dr Christopher Pugsley who also prepared the script and provides the English voice-over. A Te Reo Māori version of the programme featuring the voices of Te Iwa Tamaki, Petera Hawaiki and Lawrence Wharerau, all members of Ngā Taonga’s staff is also available for loan.

Best known for his work on keyboards for Fat Freddy's Drop, Iain Gordon also enjoyed the opportunity to put sound with vision. The particular challenge of making a soundtrack for the images curated for this programme was to be able to create both a sense of the mood of the times, but also a very tangible and raw emotional link that would draw the audience closer to the (often harsh) realities being portrayed. The human experience amidst the relentless march of War. Francis Gordon – best known as an ace Mid-Fielder in the Paekakariki Golden Bull Sharks Year 5 soccer team – is also showing early promise as a musician and has helped his father, Iain, with some key inspirations in his collaboration with Nga Taonga. Ka mau te wehi Francis!

Footage in the programme comes from the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and some is courtesy of British Pathe, Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Images have been sourced from the Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives New Zealand, Canterbury Museum, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

This programme was made possible with funding from the Lottery WW1, Environment & Heritage Committee.

Thanks to the Trustees and staff of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision for collecting, protecting and making our audio-visual heritage accessible, and to the many depositors and archives who have contributed to this programme.

For more information about this project, please email ww1-programme@ngataonga.org.nz

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For King and Country poster
This activity is being worked on from
01 Jan 2015
 to 
01 Jan 2016
Date added: 18 December 2015 | Last updated: 16 March 2017
| Contact:
Diane Pivac
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