Old New Zealand
The first films made in New Zealand were newsreels shot by A H Whitehouse from 1898 and include footage of Uhlan winning the Auckland Cup and the opening of the Auckland Exhibition. Of the 10 films made by Whitehouse, the only one known to have survived is The Departure of the Second Contingent for the Boer War. Other pioneers were Salvation Army cameraman Major Joseph Perry commissioned to film the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in 1901, James MacDonald of the Tourist Department and T J West of West's Pictures.
Silent Feature Films
In 1912, American Gaston Melies
arrived in New Zealand and produced "Hinemoa", "How Chief Te Ponga won his Bride" and "Loved by a Maori Princess".
George Tarr made the first of a series of films based around the Maori legend of Hinemoa in 1914. He was also involved in the production of "Just as the Sun Went Down", "Her brother's Redemption" and "The Test" based on William Satchell's "The Ballad of Stuttering Jim". Raymond Longford came over from Australia during World War One and produced "Mutiny of the Bounty" and "A Maori Maid's Love". During the 1920s Australian Beaumont Smith shot two features, "The Betrayer" and "The Adventures of Algy" and another Australian, Harrington Reynolds directed "The Birth of New Zealand" (1922).
Edwin Coubray produced "Carbine's Heritage" in 1927 but the first sound on film feature movies were made in the 1930s by Jack Welsh and Lee Hill. "Down on the Farm", "The Wagon and the Star" and "Phar Lap's Son", filmed in Otago and Southland were all shown in England but were panned by the critics.
New Zealand Film Commission
The NZ Film Commission was established in 1978 and helped spark a resurgence in the NZ feature film industry with funding from the Department of Internal Affairs.