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''This is unashamedly Hamish Keith’s personal view of the history of New Zealand art, dating back to Dutch explorer Abel Tasman’s first landfall in 1642 (and his encounters with early Maori) and extending to contemporary works. It is the first time in the history of NZ television that such a series is made and it is designed to be broadly accessible.

After a promising start New Zealand culture takes a wrong turn. The country turns its back on the Tasman world it had belonged to from the very beginning of European settlement and snuggles up to an imaginary Britain. A country where most of its citizens live in towns and cities reinvents its history and pretends that the whole land is farm.
Making a living filling the British with protein the country shamelessly fills its art galleries up with British art. It uses distance from Britain as an excuse for getting things wrong ignoring the crowded world just across the Tasman sea. Having thrown away its past the country looses sight of where it is or where it might be going.
The ensuing struggle between town and county would last for nearly seventy years. Pakeha New Zealand seizes on Maori imagery to define its identity and at the same time Maori are persuaded to give up their identity and become brown Pakeha. Museum ideas continue and Sir Apirana Ngata with the best of intentions continues to smother Maori art and the Maori Art School in Rotorua sets out to impose a single traditional style on the richness and vigour of Maori Art. Two prophets, Rua Kenana and Wiremu Ratana carry a changing Maori art into the 20th century.
Only British teachers are imported for the country's art schools and some of them have a positive influence on ideas about New Zealand art. Artists struggle to make some sense out of the confusion and some of them do - inventing a New Zealandism which the more talented use as a Trojan horse to smuggle in a British modernism. A small group of artists - Colin McCahon, Toss Woollaston and Rita Angus - find their own voice and cast a long shadow over what happened next.
The Auckland Art Gallery under the direction of Peter Tomory begin to explore a New Zealand art history and define a context for New Zealand art and the idea of distance begins to lose its appeal to a new generation.'' TVNZ;; 03/03/2008

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Year 2007

Reference number F104006

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image


Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Television

Duration 0:45:03

Production company Filmwork Limited

Credits Presenter: Hamish Keith
Narrator: Hamish Keith
Director: Paul Swadel
Executive Producer: Philippa Mossman
Producer: Fiona Copland
Producer: Bill Toepfer
Director of Photography: Andy Commie
Director of Photography: Leon Narbey
Editor: Bill Toepfer
Researcher: Jane Dowell
Writer: Hamish Keith

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