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National Film Unit

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Logo of NZ National Film Unit

The National Film Unit (NFU) was a state-owned film-production organisation originally based in Miramar, New Zealand. Founded in 1936 when the government took over a private film studio, Filmcraft, the NFU produced newsreels, documentaries and promotional films about New Zealand, and for many years was the only significant film-production facility in the country.[1] Many people who became prominent in the development of the modern New Zealand film industry were trained by the NFU (for example, the actor Sam Neill started at the NFU as a director).

During World War II, the NFU had a brief to provide war-time information and propaganda to further the war effort. The NFU produced the Weekly Review, a weekly magazine-style film journal that was distributed free to New Zealand's cinemas.[2] Other productions included short documentaries about the war effort.

After the end of the war in 1945, the NFU continued with a renewed focus on "educational film" for domestic audiences as well as the projection of a favourable image of New Zealand overseas, particularly for tourism promotion as well as, to lesser extent, to attract immigrants and investment and to further trade. Notable films were Te Rauparaha about the Maori chief, Snows of Aorangi (nominated for an Oscar in 1958), One Hundred and Forty Days Under the World (nominated for an Oscar in 1964), A Deaf Child in the Family, Amazing New Zealand (1963), and the three-projector wide-screen This is New Zealand for Expo '70 at Osaka, Japan.[1]

In 1977, the NFU and Television New Zealand co-produced The Governor, a television docudrama about Sir George Grey.

When the NFU was privatised in the 1990s, it was purchased by TVNZ for a paltry NZ$3 million. When staff were told of the sale price, the triumphant management and government officials seemed somewhat surprised to be treated with a collective gasp followed by a "slow clap".[citation needed]

In the late 1990s TVNZ sold the NFU studios in Miramar to film-maker Peter Jackson where he set up Park Road Post.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Struthers, John (1975). Miramar Peninsula: A Historical and Social Study. Wellington: John Struthers; Wright & Carman.
  1. ^ a b Struthers 1975, pp. 85, 86.
  2. ^ "Weekly Review | Series | Short Film | NZ On Screen". www.nzonscreen.com. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 21 March 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "A history of the NFU". Archives NZ. 11 February 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2022.