Launch of the digitised series 'Winners and Losers'

  • Hon Clare Curran

 Kia Koutou everyone.

The series Winners and Losers is representative of something quite deep in us and so I’m going to list the titles up front:

  • The Woman at the Store (Katherine Mansfield
  • Shining with the Shiner (John A. Lee),
  •  A Lawful Excuse (Barry Crump),
  • Blues for Miss Laverty (Maurice Duggan),
  • After the Depression (Maurice Shadbolt),
  • A Great Day (Frank Sargeson),
  •  and Big Brother, Little Sister (Witi Ihimaera).

Honestly this is part of our DNA, my DNA. Roger Donaldson and Ian Mune are heroes.

Can I just echo the Prime Minister in a number of things she’s said in the last 24 hours.  That is, that art and well-being, the idea that creativity and joy should never be just the domain of the privileged few but accessible to all. Along with that is that the seeds of arts and culture taking root was a key ingredient of establishing a sense of identity for our nation.

That sentiment was actually talked about by a former Prime Minister from 1940-49, Peter Fraser, and that was when New Zealand was a much younger nation. But isn’t it so true - it’s about accessibility for all.

I’d like to acknowledge the Digital Media Trustees, filmmakers, actors and creatives from Winners and Losers and the members of the screen industry and everyone involved in this great project.

This series on NZ On Screen combines two subjects that I am an enthusiastic advocate of – our fantastic screen sector, and universal access to high-quality New Zealand media content.

Added to this is the opportunity to celebrate this milestone year for NZ On Screen - ten years as a showcase of our screen history, and as a model of how technology, digital media and the screen sector can integrate to make a truly valuable resource.

The team at NZ On Screen has much to be proud of.

You’ve achieved a great deal in the past decade – unlocking the treasure chest of New Zealand television, film and music video to showcase around 4,000 notable and important screen titles.

I understand the current tally of accessible material totals an impressive 37,000 minutes of viewing.

Many of these titles would otherwise be difficult for the public to access beyond original broadcast, and all provide a window into our past – snapshots of our society at certain times and in particular places.

There is something to interest every New Zealander. I really enjoy NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection, which showcases many of the defining aspects of my creative home-town – from the Dunedin Sound, to its Scottish heritage and those legendary inhabitants, ‘Scarfies’.

However can I make a plug for the South Dunedin which I’m the MP for – I’ve got a few titles going forward. How about Surfie Culture, Stoic South Dunedinites and Peninsula People? The southern part of Dunedin gets left out too often.

A number of our iconic people and defining moments of our screen industry are presented in Winners and Losers - alongside information that helpfully places the content within the context and timeline of the industry’s history.

And all without a paywall in sight – an indication of genuine accessibility.

One of my areas of focus as Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media is ensuring all New Zealanders have the best possible access to quality media content.

That’s the reason $15 million has been set aside in this year’s Budget.  This is a substantial start to creating a strong and sustainable public media and more New Zealand content.

As the Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, called it it’s ‘a down payment’ to strengthen public media and its role as one of the pillars of democracy.

The money will be split between RNZ+ and New Zealand On Air – I’ll be able to tell you the split in the not too distant future. Importantly though I’ve been tasked with taking a fully developed proposal for the long term needs of public media into Budget 2019.

The legacy programmes collected together by NZ On Screen are key records of our cultural heritage, and offer insights into our screen industry and our nation’s culture as a whole.

Our archival audio-visual content is an important component of our heritage – for it is through our unique stories that we connect with each other and with our past.

I would also like to acknowledge the great work NZ On Screen is doing to enhance the accessibility of its content.

Captioning is about the principle that all New Zealanders can participate and access media, and it is another priority area for me.

Having recently adapted its media player to be compatible with captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, NZ On Screen is steadily adding captions to classic titles – a win-win initiative which will serve to further increase its already significant audience base.

I am pleased that the series Winners and Losers will join these, thanks to the assistance of another NZ On Air-funded organisation - Able.

It is easy to understand why the digitisation and showcasing of Winners and Losers has been an ambition of the NZ On Screen team for quite some time now.

It really is a landmark series for New Zealand film and television and marks a turning point in the evolution of New Zealand drama.

I understand it was sold to numerous countries at the time – an unheard of achievement when it was released first in the 1970s, and a real signal that audiences worldwide wanted to hear and support our stories. We so need more of that.

Winners and Losers played a decisive role in the development of New Zealand’s modern film industry – notably its role on the world stage, where we are now firmly established and have a reputation for punching well above our weight.

In the words of Roger Horrocks:

It [Winners and Losers] provided proof that a local film industry was possible, and – when screened around the world – it announced the emergence of a new source of talented writers, actors, technicians and directors.”

These films broke new ground in their collaborative approach to production, financing and marketing.

43 years on, a similarly cooperative approach has brought the necessary talented people together to enable these visual treasures to be restored for all New Zealanders to enjoy.

I’m pleased that Government supports NZ On Screen and its sister site Audioculture through NZ On Air.

I would also like to acknowledge the generosity of the Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee grant which gave this project a boost, the support of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision whose dedicated team will care for the newly restored material, and the expert team at Able who have produced the captions.

And of course, none of this would have been possible without the willingness and support of the original filmmakers – Ian Mune and Roger Donaldson.

I grew up on their films, their work is in our DNA, the essence of what makes us Kiwi.

Our film and television industry is so important – the content that is created about us, for us, to challenge us, to make us laugh and cry.  We just don’t have enough.

Collaboration is a hallmark of success in the creative sector and this initiative is a great example of screen sector organisations seriously working together to secure the legacy of the industry.

I am sure many New Zealanders, especially those who were not around when the series first graced our screens, will greatly appreciate the opportunity to view this important part of our nation’s rich screen heritage.

I am very pleased to officially launch Winners and Losers – as this landmark series is now available to view for free on NZ On Screen. Thank you all.