Historic films return to the Taranaki region

"Scenes from the East End Picnic" (1912), by Taranaki film producer Garnett Saunders. This is one of more than 1,000 films available for viewing on medianet.


From October 2014, the people of Taranaki can access historic film footage from the region, free of charge, through a new partnership between Nga Taonga Sound & Vision and Puke Ariki.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision have expanded their nationwide digital video access network, medianet, to include a new viewing site at Puke Ariki. The medianet facility is open to all visitors to Puke Ariki. It offers over 1,000 high resolution videos, available to be watched immediately. The footage dates from 1896 through to the present day, and includes newsreels, advertisements, music videos, documentaries, animated films, short films, and feature-length dramas.

Among the titles on medianet are a wealth of films with connections to the Taranaki region. One of New Zealand’s earliest film producers, Garnett Saunders, ran cinemas in New Plymouth, Inglewood, Waitara, and Stratford. With cameraman Brandon Haughton, he produced a number of films locally. Highlights include: Scenes from the East End Picnic (1912), showing lollie scrambles, contests and games for young and old at a seaside picnic in New Plymouth; The Production of the Taranaki Herald (1912), a behind the scenes glimpse of workers at the paper press; and Taranaki Jockey Club’s Annual Meeting (1912), featuring the thrills and fashions of the Taranaki Cup Day.

Moments from Taranaki’s sporting history can also be relived on medianet. Among these are: the first cycle race around Mount Taranaki (“the longest circular track in the world for a cycle road race”) in 1911; a 1930 boxing match between Tommy Donovan (Waitara) and Pete Sarron (United States) at Western Park, New Plymouth; various tramping and skiing trips up Mount Taranaki; and the ultimate sport, windsurfing, as demonstrated by brothers Tom and David Smithers in Wavesailing Downunder (1986, director Andrew McAlpine).

Other films record developments in local industries. The discovery of oil and gas in the Taranaki region made an impact on early twentieth century national newsreels. Changes in the dairy industry can be traced by comparing a 1929 film, Dairyland: Cheese Making in Taranaki, with the 1971 film, Cows, Computers and Customers.

The Taranaki region also provides a captivating backdrop for fiction films on medianet, such as Vincent Ward’s Vigil (1984).

“We are very excited about this new partnership with Puke Ariki, and that while the Govett-Brewster is temporarily closed we are still able to provide access to our collections in Taranaki” says Diane McAllen, Digital Programmes Developer, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision. “We’ve particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to learn more about the Taranaki films in the Nga Taonga Sound & Vision collections. In preparation for the launch of the new site at Puke Ariki we added a range of new, local content to the medianet resource – it has been fascinating getting to know the region’s people and stories through the footage.”

Andrew Moffat, Heritage Manager, Puke Ariki adds, “Puke Ariki is delighted to be able to offer a first-hand glimpse of the region’s history through this rich visual resource. Medianet offers a different way for people to engage with our community stories and will it bring these moments alive. It is also exciting that the Taranaki content available for viewing will continue to grow.”

Puke Ariki and Nga Taonga Sound & Vision invite residents of and visitors to Taranaki to visit the medianet resource at at Puke Ariki’s Taranaki Research Centre / Te Pua Wananga o Taranaki, on the Level 2 of the library.

In addition to the Puke Ariki site, medianet will be available at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery again when the gallery re-opens next year.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision is the operating name for the New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Nga Taonga Whitiahua Me Nga Taonga Korero – New Zealand’s new, national audiovisual archive. The archive was formed by the amalgamation of three archives in August 2014: the former New Zealand Film Archive, Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero, and Television New Zealand Archive. Nga Taonga Sound & Vision and previously the New Zealand Film Archive have developed the medianet digital video network over the last seven years, and medianet is now available at 17 partner museums, galleries, libraries and educational institutions across New Zealand.

Further information: 

medianet@ngataonga.org.nz www.ngataonga.org.nz (04) 387 7647

Written by

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

13 Oct 2014

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is the operating name for the New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero.