Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Government Films

In 1907 the Government Tourist Department employed J. McDonald to make some newsreels on New Zealand subjects to send overseas. The Government Photography Office, under the control of the Department of Agriculture until 1923, made several films, such as Flax Growing at Foxton and Milling Kauri Timber. It then became a part of the Publicity Office, which was later incorporated in the Tourist Department. Its studios were in the basement of Parliament Buildings but, after a fire there, the Photography Office was transferred to the ABC Building in Lambton Quay, where another fire occurred. The nitrate films of the day were so highly inflammable that the Cinematograph Regulations, dealing with safety, were administered by the Chief Inspector of Explosives. An arrangement was then made by the Government with A. A. P. MacKenzie (who established Filmcraft Studios at Miramar, Wellington) to process the films made by Government photographic officers who had accommodation on the premises. In 1936 the Tourist Department bought Filmcraft Studios, which became the Government Motion Picture and Advertising Studios. They produced for the 1940 Centennial One Hundred Crowded Years, a 55–minute sound film re-enacting the history of New Zealand. The next year the New Zealand National Film Unit was established at the studios to help to publicise the war effort. E. S. Andrews was the first producer, and Bert Bridgman the chief cameraman. The assistant producer was C. J. Morton, who has been engaged in making Government films since 1923. A. G. Scott, first sound engineer of the Film Unit, succeeded Andrews as producer in 1950. From 1941 until 1950 the Film Unit produced 459 Weekly Reviews, which was changed then to a monthly Pictorial Parade. Both are 10–minute newsreels covering three or four topics. In addition, the National Film Unit makes each year several short feature films of 10 to 40 minutes in length on New Zealand subjects. They are of a high standard, and amongst those which have won awards at international film festivals are: We Lead the World (tractor accidents), Jetobatics (Air Force display), Snows of Aorangi (ski-ing at Mount Cook), The Long Lake (Wakatipu), Snowline is Their Boundary (high-country sheep farming), and Skyhigh in New Zealand (the Mount Cook region).

Next Part: Feature Films