History preserved through documentaries

Documentaries are an important way of exploring and preserving history


Descent From Disaster - Gallipoli Special

A special episode of the popular documentary series Descent From Disaster is focused on the Gallipoli campaign. The Platinum fund documentary will retrace the devastating events as told by one direct descendant of a New Zealand solider - former All Black Zinzan Brooke.

Brooke's grandfather Martin Brooke was one of the first men in Franklin to enlist in the army when it was announced New Zealand was joining the war in August 1914.

The one hour documentary will screen as part of TV One's Anzac Day coverage 2015.

It received $224,785 funding from NZ On Air.


ANZAC - Tides Of Blood

ANZAC - Tides Of Blood - Frame Up Films for Māori Television

Actor Sam Neill shares his family’s war stories and confronts the enduring power of the Anzac myth in New Zealand and Australia.

This special two-hour documentary will screen on Anzac Day 2015 on Māori Television at 7.00am and again at 8.00pm the same day. 

The production received $329,000 from NZ On Air through the Platinum fund.


Shovels And Guns

This Pakipūmeka documentary for Māori Television explores Māori participation in WW1 from the perspective of Roger Dansy, who was an officer in the Māori Contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary force, which sailed for Egypt in 1915. 

He served in Gallipoli and later the Somme.

Māori suffered heavy casualties in WW1 - it's estimated 5% of the total population of Māori men were killed or injured in the war.

The documentary is made by Kahawai Productions and will screen on Māori Television on Anzac Day 2015.

It received $124,200 in funding from NZ On Air.


Great War Stories

This unique mini-series brings personal WW1 stories of New Zealanders to a prime time audience.

Screening during the TV3 news hour, and narrated by TV3 news presenter Hilary Barry, these are bite-sized documentaries. 

Each story is between three and four minutes long and based on diaries, letters, archive footage and photos - and memories from the descendants of those who went to war. 

This innovative project is a collaboration between AC Productions, the Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives NZ and the Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

The series included 7 stories which screened leading into Anzac Day 2014, and a further 7 to screen leading into Anzac Day 2015.

NZ On Air provided $137,117 in funding.

Great War Stories - AC Productions for TV3


The Berry Boys

The Berry Boys - Production Shed TV for TV One

This one-hour documentary explores the lesser known stories of the war years, using the collections of Berry portraits that are currently looked after by Te Papa.

Berry & Co was a well-known Wellington portrait photography studio, established in 1897 by William Berry. During World War I, many photographs were taken at this studio of soldiers before they embarked for the front lines.

The soldiers would have given these portraits to relatives and loved ones as mementoes and keepsakes. Some would later be poignant and precious reminders of men who died overseas, but whose bodies were never recovered.

This one-hour documentary explores the lesser known stories of the war years, using the collections of Berry portraits that are currently looked after by Te Papa.

Screened on TV One, The Berry Boys is an innovative mix of present day relatives telling the stories of their ancestors, graphic-novel style animatic illustrations, and a slick contemporary soundtrack.  

It received $203,895 funding from NZ On Air


Missed it?

Watch The Berry Boys On Demand.


War News

War News - The Gibson Group for Prime

War News is a five-part documentary series that imagines today's media and communications channels were available 100 years ago to keep audiences back home up-to-date from the frontline.

Re-enacted reports from the frontline are received via live satellite, Skype and Facebook and a New Zealand war correspondent reports live to a studio-based news presenter.

Each episode takes the form on a one-hour news bulletin covering five significant dates in the war, with a particular focus on New Zealand’s involvement. Some of the key dates include the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the attack of Passchendaele and the Surafend Affair.

War News was funded through the Platinum Fund, which supports quality programmes with something important to say about New Zealand.

It received $1,845,000 in NZ On Air support and screened in 2014 on Prime.


On Radio

Radio NZ National has a fabulous collection of WW1 related content. Check it out here.


Next Article: Drama gives us an intimate view of war

Television drama allows us to experience war and its impacts through characters we can relate to. NZ On Air has invested in a range of impactful dramas.