Christchurch From The Streets

A 13 episode documentary series focusing on the stories of the people and communities at the heart of the post-quake rebuild.

NZ On Air does not generally fund documentary series for regional television. Christchurch From The Streets is a very special and important exception.

This challenging documentary series originally screened on CTV, and was re-edited into a six part series for TV One. Acclaimed filmmaker Gerard Smyth (Frank Film) set out to give the people of Christchurch a place to share their pain, their hope and their triumphs as the city entered recovery mode. What he produced was powerful television – made by and for the people.

We asked Gerard to give his insights to the series.

What were the challenges of making the series?

It’d be fair to say that we were ambitious. We had a plan to mount a weekly outside broadcast in a public venue, and include 16 minutes of field stories a week. It was important that we raise the bar, with the highest possible production values. A small crew worked mostly seven days a week over the 13 weeks that the series screened.

I think we rose to the challenge and made some memorable television. There was no shortage of stories - everyone has a tale to tell. Our challenge was to find the people who were leading the charge in rebuilding their worlds. The all-but-insolvent rugby league club that have grown a leg as property developers. The 100 year old woman who left her house via a window for the last time -but who now has a new home. The communities hanging in there together with so many new initiatives. Extraordinary heartfelt stories that help us all feel a sense of well-being in these desperate days.

What was the community response to the programme?

Sometimes television can pull a community together and play a vital role in our well-being. After we had lost so much, through television we offered hope, shared ideas, discovered community leaders, and gained a sense of direction.

Locals loved the novelty of seeing themselves on television. CTV saw us as their brand leader -pulling viewers from the networks is never easy for them. But we in Christchurch watch life in Auckland most of the time on the networks, and so it was a thrill for locals to be able to participate in, and see and hear stories, created in their own back yard.

What are you most proud of about the series?

I am so proud that we were able to make a contribution to our often desperate world. I am so proud that we in New Zealand have a vehicle like NZ On Air that can respond in the manner that they did. The series would not have been produced without this agency. Of course Christchurch is not anywhere out of the woods yet -there is so much to talk about yet. But we have made a start along the road.


Christchurch From The Streets is a Documentary and a Regional Television programme.

Frank Films

Series one:

13 x 30 mins for CTV  

6 x 30 mins for TV One

The second series aired in September 2014

6 x 30 mins for TV One

NZ On Air funding $248,425

It's very, very good...I think its going to make an extraordinary document for the future. When this kind of thing happens again somewhere else I think people will turn to the work Gerard Smyth is doing and learn from it.

— Lara Strongman – TV reviewer Radio NZ National

Watch this show

This show is now off-air.
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Also funded by NZ On Air

Hope And Wire

February 2014

Hope And Wire

Award-winning filmmaker Gaylene Preston brings us a Platinum Fund drama series set in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, telling a universal story of family, hope and triumph against the odds.

The Festival

May 2014

The Festival

A colourful series giving viewers a peek inside New Zealand’s diverse ethnic communities through their most important festivals.