When Britain joined the Common Market in 1969, New Zealand suddenly had to start promoting itself to the world, and one of the ways it did so was to take part in Expo 70, in Osaka, Japan.
The star attraction at that event was a revolutionary 20-minute film 'This is New Zealand’, made by the National Film Unit that introduced viewers to New Zealand in a glorious three-screen presentation. With highly inventive camera work and editing, it showed everyone where we are, who we are, and – taking advantage of the super-widescreen format – what a spectacularly beautiful land we live in.
When This is New Zealand opened in Japan at the beginning of 1970 no one could have known that this would be a watershed moment in New Zealand film-making history. By the time the film ended its New Zealand run at the beginning of 1972, however, some people had realised that for the first time ever New Zealand had produced a film that was not only as good as, but even better than, state-of-the-art films produced by countries with much longer and stronger film-making traditions, and much more plentiful resources.
The film was seen by more than two million people at Expo 70, and by 350,000 more when it returned home afterwards. Hidden from view since that time, this landmark film has been given a stunning restoration by Archives New Zealand and Park Road Post, and it looks – and sounds better than it ever has before.
After 'This is New Zealand' no one could doubt that New Zealanders could take on the world of film – and win.
The legacy of 'This is New Zealand' lives on.