In 1821,among the first British sailors to set foot on New Zealand, Phillip Wayne befriends a Maori tribe's chief, marries in England and returns to New Zealand with a small group of followers to settle.
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In 1821,British seaman Phillip Wayne sets foot on New Zealand where he befriends a Maori tribe and their chief,Hongi Tepe.The chief takes a liking to Wayne and invites him to come back to settle.On his return to England, Wayne's captain asks him to bring ashore a chest full of silk,possibly without being detected by the Customs agents.When Customs agents stop Wayne and search his chest they discover beneath the silks two shrunken heads of Maori warriors.Wayne realizes too late that his captain is involved in trafficking native shrunken heads that can fetch high prices on the illegal market in England.Arrested and condemned for the smuggling of this type of illegal artifact Wayne is banned from working as a seaman and he is fined. At this stage Wayne decides to marry his fiancée Marion and to return to New Zealand to settle there.He brings with him a handful of settlers but coexistence with the savage,cannibal,warlike Maori won't be easy. Written by
I give it an "8" for historical interest as the first colour feature filmed in my country of New Zealand, even though I haven't seen it yet (I have a copy ordered).
This film is available (legally) on DVD in Australia in a two-movie pack with another Jack Hawkins film "The Planter's wife". You can order it from www.ebay.com.au (for only ten Australian dollars!!!). Is also advertised on www.ebay.com in the States from another Australian source.
"The Seekers" is an important film historically in New Zealand where I live, because it's the first colour feature filmed here and one of the handful of international productions before the 1970's explicitly set here and it features several prominent indigenous Maori actors including acclaimed opera singer Inia Te Wiata who went on to perform at Covent Garden in London.
No doubt the comments posted by others above are valid re-the racist colonialist attitudes etc. After all, at the time this film was made, in 1954, the only features made here in New Zealand were directed by foreigners such as the British Annakin. We had to wait until the 1960s before a feature by a New Zealander. And even white New Zealanders in this period shared such colonialist attitudes and saw themselves s carrying white civilization to the "barbarous Pacific." No doubt some humour can be found if, like me, you enjoy marveling at the dated heroic poses often found in these British films made at the fag-end of Empire when Britannia hadn't quite yet waived the rules...At least this production has some Maori cast members- most Hollywood films set in New Zealand of this period use Mexicans or Asians to stand in for the indigenous Maori people (see below).
Other major international productions filmed or set in New Zealand in this period include "Green Dolphin Street" (director Victor Saville, 1947; starring Lana Turner and Van Heflin) about an Englishman thwarted in love who seeks redemption in exile in New Zealand, which won an Oscar for Best Special Effects for its earthquake scenes; "Until They Sail" (director Robert Wise, 1957; starring Paul Newman, Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Sandra Dee and Piper Laurie) about GIs romancing New Zealand girls during the war; and "Two Loves" (director Charles Walters, 1961; starring Jack Hawkins again, Shirley MacLaine and Laurence Harvey) in which Shirley Maclaine is an idealistic young American immigrant school teacher amongst the impoverished Maoris battling (and in love with) the cynical Harvey and the set-in-his ways school inspector Hawkins. All the Maori roles seem to be played by Asians or Mexicans. This is also the case on "Green Dolphin Street" where all the Maoris seem to be played by Mexicans (apparently that one was filmed on a Hollywood lot).
A late entrant in the "British films with a New Zealand connection" genre is the entertaining "Mr Forbush and the Penguins" (aka "Cry of the Penguins") 1971 (starring John Hurt and Hayley Mills) based on a New Zealand novel. Esteemed English thespian Joss Ackland wins the all-time award for "worst foreign attempt at a New Zealand accent" in his cameo as a Kiwi official at the High Commission in London (has to be heard to be believed!!!).
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