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Rewi’s Last Stand / The Last Stand

Rudall Hayward, Frontier Films, 1940

The Last Stand was the first New Zealand feature film to screen on local television – that was in 1970 – some 30 years after the film was first released.

In 1938, Rudall Hayward began the sound remake of his 1925 silent film Rewi’s Last Stand. Using James Cowan’s The New Zealand Wars and working with the Te Awamutu Historical Society, Hayward was determined to reproduce an episode of New Zealand history with as much accuracy as possible – for example, he filmed in the actual location of the famous battle.

Released in 1940, it was the first of Hayward’s films to secure an international release. Screened in Britain as The Last Stand, the original negative was recut to meet the strict requirements for a B Feature (it had to fit a certain length).

"It is more important that New Zealanders should have produced this film than that they should see one of hundred films from Hollywood. It is a good film, and I am surprised how near to producing a Cecil B. de Mille-spectacle Mr Hayward has come." — John Grierson (the Film Commissioner for the Canadian Government)

No prints of the original (Rewi’s Last Stand) are known to survive, although the cut-down version – The Last Stand has survived – and it has been confused with Rewi’s Last Stand ever since!

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