Documentary techniques and where they come from

- By Jakki Galloway (Film Archive Programme Developer)

As part of The New Zealand Film Archive’s contribution to the WWI Centenary, my head has been down writing an NCEA resource based around some of the war documentaries we hold in our collection. The resource focuses on an analysis of the codes and conventions of documentary making, and discusses how these conventions have developed and changed over time. Some of my rediscoveries have been fascinating:

The earliest films did not delineate between fiction and non-fiction and “fakery was not seen as deceit but as enterprise” (Ruby, 1980). In Nanook of the North (1922), by Robert Flaherty, reconstructed scenes add drama and narrative to the storytelling. The conventions Flaherty used were those of fiction. An outsized igloo was built so that camera equipment could fit inside. This proved too dark so half of the igloo was removed to let the light in. (Ruby, 1980)

Nanook of The North (Robert Flaherty, 1922).
Nanook of The North (Robert Flaherty, 1922).

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Was the “real” Anzac biscuit … a gingernut?

- By Camilla Wheeler and Sarah Johnston of Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero



A 1965 radio interview held in the collection of Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero has shed light on the home-baking sent by New Zealand women to our soldiers during World War I, and the incredible baking and fund-raising efforts of one woman in particular.

On Gallipoli, food parcels from home must have been one of the few bright points in the Anzac soldier’s generally abysmal diet, which largely consisted of fatty, salty, tinned “bully beef” and rock-hard ship’s biscuits.

New Zealand families and the Red Cross organised parcels containing tinned luxuries such as condensed milk, coffee and cocoa, as well as home-made biscuits and sweets. Most famous of course, is the Anzac biscuit, and with the centenary of the 1915 Gallipoli landings fast approaching, the debate over its origins seems set to rival the Great Pavlova Debate. Continue reading

Mrs Barnard’s Gingernuts Recipe (and Sound Archives updated version)

*Read the story about Mrs Barnard’s Anzac gingernuts here.


Gingernut dough, divided and ready for rolling and baking.
Gingernut dough, divided and ready for rolling and baking.
Ingredients Mrs Barnard’s original recipe Halved (Metric) Halved (by volume) 
Plain flour 2 ¼ lb 510g 3 ½ cups
Butter ½ lb 110g ½ cup
Light brown sugar 1 lb 225g 1 ½ cups
Ground ginger 1 oz 15g 2 ½  tablespoons
Golden syrup 2 lb 454g 2 cups



  • Mrs Barnard’s original recipe would make a LOT of biscuits for the troops! We halved the quantities and still produced between 60 and 100 biscuits, depending on how large you make them.
  • If you want to avoid the need to measure out golden syrup (and getting your scales sticky) you can buy it in 500g bottles or small 454g (1lb) tins. The small tins are available in the British section of most supermarkets. However, the Chelsea Sugar website says their syrup in 1kg tins is darker and richer than both the bottled and British golden syrups.
  • If you want a hard, “dunking” gingernut biscuit that could withstand a boat trip to Gallipoli or the Western Front, bake for 15 minutes.
  • For a chewier result, reduce baking time to about 10 minutes.
  • Mrs Barnard’s biscuits were “about the size of a shilling.” The New Zealand shilling was 2.3cms in diameter, similar to the current $1 coin. We made some this size and some the more standard biscuit dimensions. Both were delicious. Continue reading

“Ticket to Hollywood” Screen Test Competition

Are you ready for your close-up? Film a silent movie screen test of yourself enacting one to four of the common silent film emotions in the list below, post the video to YouTube, and email the link to us at (or post the link to The Film Archive’s Facebook or Twitter page) for an chance to win fame and fortune, as well as great prizes. Remember to send us your name (or your movie star alter ego’s name) and the name of the emotion(s) you are expressing, along with your entry.

This competition runs alongside our Ticket to Hollywood: A Festival of New Zealand Stars Abroad series, which runs 3 May – 21 June in Wellington (but those of you who don’t live in Wellington can still enter the comp!)

Film your screen tests at home, or on location at the Movie Star Makeovers with WELTEC Fashion Make-up Artistry evening on 24 May – where you will be able to film your starring moment after your movie star makeover.

The top three screen tests, as voted by audiences online here, will be shown on the big screen – so the public can see their star quality – at the final screening in the Ticket to Hollywood festival, 7pm Saturday 21 June.

Prizes include our New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History book, DVDs of classic kiwi films, and free movie tickets.

Venus of the South Seas (1924).
Venus of the South Seas (1924).


Screen test instructions:

Select between one to four of the emotions in the list below. How would you express this emotion (or emotions) in your acting if you were a silent movie star? Record a short screen test (please keep your screen tests under a minute – and shorter than this is fine). Remember this is a silent movie, so you’ll need to use your facial expressions and gestures to express your character. If you like, you could get into the spirit of the era by applying a sepia filter to your film!


  • Discovery
  • Bliss
  • Terror
  • Lovesickness
  • Determination
  • Playfulness
  • Remorse
  • Expectation
  • Laziness
  • Vulnerability
  • Contempt
  • Good humour
  • Haughtiness
  • Infatuation
  • Greed
  • Repentance
  • Other common silent movie emotions you can think of… Continue reading

The Last Stand

Virginia Callanan (Film Archive Director of Systems Development) tells us about recent preservation work on Rudall Hayward’s The Last Stand.


1925 Release of silent film Rewi’s Last Stand 
1937 – 1939 Rudall Hayward works on a new sound film Rewi’s Last Stand
1940 New Zealand release of sound film Rewi’s Last Stand, 112 mins
1943 Ramai te Miha marries Rudall Hayward
1946 They depart to work in Britain
1949 British release of The Last Stand, 63 mins
1954 – 1955 The Last Stand theatrical release in New Zealand
1970 The Last Stand screens on New Zealand television

Film poster for "Rewi's Last Stand."
Film poster for “Rewi’s Last Stand” (1940).

The internal histories of different versions of the same story are as fascinating to archivists as the external histories of different prints. Together they provide us with the clues needed to uphold the film maker’s intentions. Ideally the version seen by initial audiences should coexist with, rather than be replaced by, a version seen by later audiences. Sadly, this was not the case with Rewi’s Last Stand / The Last Stand. Continue reading

Vincent Ward, As He Was in 1990

Alex Porter (SANTK Preservation Archivist) was lucky enough to meet Vincent Ward when he received his Honorary Doctorate at The University of Canterbury recently (click here to read about her experience meeting Ward and what she took away from his talk).

After hearing Ward speak, Alex was inspired to reflect on Ward’s career as it is recorded in the Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero collection. She came across this 1990 Morning Report interview. Presenter Geoff Robinson talks to Ward about Edge of the Earth - his then in-progress book on the film industry, his New Zealand roots and their influence on his films. At this point his career was already in full swing – Ward released Vigil in 1984 and The Navigator: A Medieval Odessey in 1988. Here Ward mentions “My Father’s Hands,” a theme and iconography that has been meaningful to him across his life and career – and which would later become the title of his Honorary Doctorate speech.

Click below to the listen to the interview.

[Archival audio from Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact SANTK.]

Ward speaking during celebrations for his Honorary Doctorate.
Ward speaking during celebrations for his Honorary Doctorate.

Accession 02/030/273

- By Marie O’Connell (SANTK Preservation Archivist)

The Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero acquired this accession in 2002 and it makes up part of the Bill Beavis Collection.

What is unique about this is that it is made up of two completely different formats of analogue media – one being rare Sound Mirror paper tape developed in 1946, and the other being two lacquer discs from 1940. It is possible that Bill Beavis himself engineered this crude but very ‘kiwi’ open reel tape as he was unable to acquire an actual 10.5 inch reel.

Image: Marie O'Connell.
Image: Marie O’Connell.


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Listen to Audio from the HIV AIDS Panel Discussion

On 30 April the Film Archive Wellington hosted a panel discussion HIV AIDS in New Zealand. Panellists discussed the early years of HIV AIDS and how treatments, outlooks and attitudes have changed.

Participants included: Jane Bruning (Positive Women Inc.), Ron Irvine (Body Positive), Marama Pala (INA – Māori, Indigenous & South Pacific HIV & AIDS Foundation), Dr Nigel Raymond (Infectious Diseases Specialist), Vaughan Meneses (New Zealand AIDS Foundation), Chair: Carl Greenwood. Gareth Watkins, curator of the 30 exhibition, was also present.

Click below to listen to an audio clip of the discussion:

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The World According to Ward

- By Alex Porter (SANTK Preservation Archivist)

Whilst my colleagues hustled Christchurch crowds on April 14th to get their smart phone pics of the Royals in Latimer Square, I hit the arterial route to meet Vincent Ward for morning tea at Canterbury Uni. On first sight I found immediate empathy for the man who appeared a sort of overall dark and silver grey wrapped in woolly scarf and was most gratefully introduced to our Film School saviour trying to brush my insomnia, hormones and bad hair aside. Guests included Professor Simpson – Head of the School of Fine Arts in Ward’s day – whose eloquence and forthright engagement Ward acknowledged and still rather endearingly preceded him, and  Morris Askew – essentially founder and Head of Film School during Ward’s years at university and to whom he showed great respect, not to mention an array of lecturers, students, heads and bods from the Christchurch gallery (and archive) collective.

University of Canterbury


Post-quake Canterbury University has had to make some acute structural changes as they attempt to meet the expectations of the counting house. Ward’s welcome and reciprocal speech certainly served well to reframe and project a positive light on changing times. Ward applauded the University’s new umbrella, titled The School of Humanities and Creative Arts, a flagship for The School of Fine Arts, Music, Film Theory and Cultural Studies departments and a creative compilation that actively reflects current industry and enterprise, anchoring students in the real world. From where I was sitting Ward expressed a genuine enthusiasm to engage his skills, industry links and international connections in efforts to raise the university’s profile and in turn, student numbers.

To mark his Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts Ward gave a lecture titled “My Father’s Hands” later that evening, which was received with appropriate excitement and matched enthusiasm from a well attended audience. Beginning the talk with a wonderful black and white photograph and “That’s me and my dad” Ward explained how he used to constantly draw his father’s scarred, burnt hands – which were part of a major injury inflicted during his service in Syria during WWII. Ward told his father’s life story, a compelling and sad narrative of unrealised aspirations, a story he embodied in these scarred hands. Ward drew an analogy between them and the farm’s terrain, the isolated, burnt and roughed hilly landscape that was made beautiful through sheer sweat, grit and determination. Selected photographs, film stills, pre-production drawings and gallery installation documentation prompted discussion on fate, moments and cinematic motif, production tales and artistic insight into his multi-disciplinary work to date. Continue reading