our programmes

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DNA Detectives

6 x 1 hrs

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DNA Detectives takes celebrity participants on a global treasure hunt to discover the countries of their ancestry, long lost relatives and hidden family secrets. Host Richard O’Brien feeds them clues from HQ to unlock the secrets of their genealogical DNA.

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This Town

16 x 1 hrs

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New Zealanders are very connected to where they live, This Town explores the reasons why people have chosen the place they call home and reveals some extraordinary stories of seemingly ordinary people.
The series has no presenter and deliberately focuses on the people telling their own stories to camera.

NZ Story

16 x ½ hrs

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A documentary series where courageous, honest, heroic and inspirational New Zealanders tell their story.
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Intrepid Journeys

64 x 1 hrs

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Intrepid Journeys grabs you off the sofa and takes you on an adventure packed spin around the globe.  This is travel television but forget the well-worn tourist trails, this is off the beaten track.  Forget cushy five star accommodation, this programme gets down and dirty.  

On a good day the presenters in Intrepid Journeys have a bed, a roof over their heads and running water.  On a bad day, anything is possible.  Intrepid Journeys aims to show that the less-travelled parts of the world are not daunting but rather a rewarding place to explore.  The presenters in this programme will not be killing their food or battling for hidden treasure.  They simply have to fully participate in the real adventure of a life time.

Who are the stars of the show?  It is a toss up between the presenters and their destinations. Each episode of Intrepid Journeys actually follows two journeys - the physical path taken through each country and the personal journey undertaken by each presenter.  Rather than have one travel-hardened host to present the programme week in and week out, the people chosen to guide the audience through each episode have been picked because the destination will out them out of their comfort zone.  This gives the audience the chance to see each country through fresh and excited eyes.

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." –- John Steinbeck

Global Radar II

8 x ½ hrs

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New Zealand is a small country at the bottom of the world but, no matter where we call home, we are neighbours because what we do, what we buy and consume can have far-reaching impacts. Some people think what happens in the backyards of others is their business. But increasingly activities in a far-flung countries affect us and our world - especially in relation to how we treat our environment. 

So sustainability crusader, Te Radar, is off to see how some of the choices we make impact on our country and the planet. Global Radar is ready to dig deeper into how our actions, consumption and choices change our world – for better or worse.

To take action you need to be aware. While the planet feels the stresses of our consumption and life choices more each day, it can be hard to grasp how this seeming intangible issue affects us, in New Zealand, in our day-to-day lives. How will the choices we make now affect us in the future?

What’s really important and what’s just greenwash?  Global Radar aims to get us thinking about the big stuff by looking at small stuff. What would a low carbon life look like and can something as simple as concrete be made to absorb carbon? Can nuclear power save the planet or is it better if we all do two hours of physical activity a week?  Does living off the grid help?  What is clean water and what is it worth?  Can changing to homebrew stop the seas from rising?  Where have the bees gone and how can we help them come back?

Following on from the critically-acclaimed Global Radar series of 2011, Te Radar is off to keep the eco/soy/solar torch alight with another series of eight half-hour television programmes, produced by Jam to give us all information and context to make more informed and environmentally aware choices in our day-to-day lives.

 

 

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Global Radar

8 x ½ hrs

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Te Radar goes global…

Te Radar has made sustainability accessible and, thanks to both his farm and ¼ acre town tenure, he has shown us that modern life is filled with things that should not be taken at face value.  And so Te Radar is going on a global mission to look at what we are doing to make a difference to our planet, to see how our choices impact on our backyard and those further afield.  Global Radar is the chance to dig deeper into how our actions, consumption and choices shape our world.

We are a small country at the bottom of the world but we are now all so globally connected that what we do, what we buy and consume can have far-reaching impacts.   Global Radar aims to take a look at stuff we all use and give us all information and context to make more informed choices.  In the eight episodes in this series, Te Radar goes on a journey into the issues around cars, fish, sustainable production, waste, pollution, power, water and what the future will look like.  His journey involves seeking information from experts and practitioners in both local and international locations.  

In episode one, Te Radar discovers Plant and Food at Lincoln University and Potatopak from Blenheim are developing car components for the World First F3 sustainable race team in Nottingham.  He finds out about the project and pitches in delivering new wing mirrors for the racecar and gets behind the wheel travelling at over 170 kilometres and hour with nothing but flax between him and the tarmac.

Te Radar has a naturally affinity for food so looking at how we are approaching fish stocks is where episode two takes him.  He sees the tuna fisheries in Tonga and discovers what goes on there is having impacts on the game fishing grounds off Whakatane.

Buying snacks to sustain him on his mission, Te Radar finds himself in the chocolate isle of the supermarket.  So why does some chocolate contain palm oil and why is it so bad?  Episode three sees Te Radar looking at the world’s cheapest oil and discovering it has stronger ties to New Zealand than most of us realise.  Looking at common supermarket items like biscuits, chocolate, noodles, crackers, soap and chips, he finds they contain palm oil. Te Radar paddles the rivers of Borneo to access areas of rain forest being lost to palm plantations, forcing Orang-utan’s out of their habitat.    

Sustainable production is an interesting idea but most people don’t really understand what it means.  Making stuff that doesn’t harm people or the planet sounds great but how does it work?  Te Radar goes delving into the kind of plantations that produce the ingredients for our morning brew.  He helps farmers at a coffee plantation in Rwanda to see how fair fair trade is.  He then traces the beans to the importer in England who is doing taking quite a radical approach to ensure everyone in the process gets a fair deal.

It’s messy but how to deal with waste is a big issue for everyone.  Te Radar finds he has to muck in helping a couple in Amberley who are changing the way we deal with disposable nappies.  He also discovers a whole town, that’s Raglan, who have made reducing waste their business.

It’s a mind shift but business brains are looking closely at how pollution can be not only reduced but also harnessed and made useful.  Dr Sean Simpson is doing just that in South Auckland and the results could change how we look at waste gasses from big industries like steel production forever.

When is comes to low impact transport, as a nation we are more likely to be driving a Japanese car rather than riding the bus.   New Zealand tops the world rankings for car ownership, with 2.5 million of them for just 4 million people.  Even if you are riding the bus is won’t be solar powered even though we build such buses right here in Christchurch.  In episode six, Te Radar tracks down a Kiwi solar powered bus in Adelaide and gives it a test run.   And finding out more about how we might power the future takes Te Radar from a shipping container in Kapiti, where human waste and a microwave is creating a buzz, to Fuzhou in China where a Christchurch based company are shedding some light on how to reduce our power consumption.  Te Radar joins a factory production line to get a better feel for energy saving actions.

In this country water falls free from the sky but the future of water will involve managing this precious resource as if it were gold.  In episode seven looking at our water is Te Radar’s mission - from how we capture it and use it to really monitoring where it goes.  Te Radar meets some clever chaps including two who have spent two decades looking at how crops like apples use water.

In Global Radar’s final episode Te Radar takes a look at the future with a visit to a sustainably built city in the desert in Abu Dhabi and an interesting journey to Rwanda, a country that has radically changed it’s culture to ensure a better future for it’s people.   

Global Radar isn’t about lecturing people about turning off light switches and putting out the recycling – although there is no question these are good things to do.  The series is about taking a look at what environmentally aware people are working on, be it big ideas or small steps, and encouraging more of us to follow their lead because it is time we all made more effort to know about the impacts of how we live and pitch in and lift our game.

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Keep Calm & Carry On

6 x ½ hrs

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The saying goes…. “There’s no user manual” Jaquie’s saying goes….“Keep Calm and Carry On”. 

If we are lucky, we are blessed with children and then…. Where are the instructions on what happens next?

Keep Calm and Carry On is attempting to lighten the load by going on walkabout through the quagmire of the early months with a baby. New mum Jaquie is candidly sharing her experiences on the motherhood highways and byways. While she isn’t foolish enough to dish out advice, Jaquie reveals her personal highs and lows as a new parent to frankly go where few mums have gone before.
 

You see, once upon a time we grew up in large extended families where participating in the child rearing of siblings was just a way of life.  These days, we bolt from the family nest for varsity, the OE or just to spread our wings which means we breed later. When our time comes, we are often left to find our own way. And it’s really hard, especially when you are constantly worried you’re doing it wrong. There are the books, surveys, websites, baby whisperers and all manner of expert opinion to help guide a young mother but quite honestly, is some of it just nonsense and clap trap? What works and why? What do other mums and dads really do?

With the help of other brave new parents and some of New Zealand’s top experts in all kinds of things – from paediatrics to economics, Plunket to social history - Keep Calm and Carry On looks at how we raise our nation, what we do worry about, what we need to worry about and what we can just chillax about.  
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NORTH

10 x ½ hrs

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From lighthouses to lava flows, kayaks to kiwis, beaches to butterflies, Marcus Lush covers a lot of ground – and water – in his latest adventure about New Zealand’s special places and people.
After exploring the wild south in his last TV series, Lush has gone to the other extreme of the country for his next show, North.
Opening with spectacular aerial views of Lush arriving in Manukau Harbour by container ship, the show goes up the east side and down the west before concluding 10 weeks later with an idiosyncratic A to Z of Auckland in classic Lush style.
Along the way, Lush gets spooked and does a bit of spooking of his own, meets an astronomer with an observatory in her back garden, enjoys close encounters with dolphins, gannets and butterflies and discovers the ultimate man cave in suburban Mount Albert. And, yes, the occasional train chugs into view too.

Lush decided to head up north for a while after discovering renewed passion for the region while spending more time in his hometown Auckland for work last year.
“As a visitor back up north, the stories have become much more interesting to me, more relevant and resonant,” he says.
“The bottom of the South Island looks very different from the North, the cultures are different and the North has so much interesting history to explore, including plenty of lovely lighthouses and dramatic shipwrecks.
“There are the modern stories too, like the Mangere Bridge industrial dispute – the longest in New Zealand history – and, of course, the great harbour stories of the Manukau, Hokianga, Kaipara and Waitemata,” says Lush.
He was also thrilled to visit off-shore locations like the Three Kings, the Cavallis and the islands of the Gulf.
As always, Marcus becomes totally immersed in the stories of the landscape and the people that populate it, as he undertakes a journey that travels the coasts and harbours, the hills and sand dunes of the top of the north island.
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SOUTH

7 x ½ hrs

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Marcus Lush put his life on the line shooting the series , South, whether it was braving Foveaux Strait on an oyster boat, canoeing down remote river gorges or trekking into the wilds of Fiordland, he was up for it.
And the results are spectacular in this seven part series.
The superlatives just keep coming as Lush talks about the challenges of making South, which starts out in his adopted hometown of Bluff and goes on to cover the unique history, geography and characters of Otago and Southland.
“We feature places that have never been filmed before and get into these amazing tales that no one has heard before. People will be blown away by this stuff,” he says.
His favourite parts of the two months filming were canoeing down the Clutha River – “it was fantastic, I can’t believe more people don’t do it” – and sailing through the lower fiords of Fiordland – “quite extraordinary”.
He also rates highly the walk into Puyseger Point, even though he didn’t quite make it to his intended destination. “It’s such incredible, rugged bush. The tramp was difficult and challenging but unbelievably spectacular.
“I love the fact you can get so remote in New Zealand that, in five days, you only see two people. These are parts of the country so inaccessible, you could get lost forever. The tracks scare people away, they’re that dangerous.”

And then there were the characters he met along the way, like Tracker the oyster man and Peanut, New Zealand’s most remote resident and finder of our largest piece of space junk.
“What I’ve learned about the people who live in the south is that they’re anchored to the land. You couldn’t drag them away from it - they look like they belong there. And they’ve got all these amazing obsessions, passions and persuasions.”
Lush worked on South with his long-time collaborator, Jam TV producer Melanie Rakena, with whom he also made Off The Rails and Ice.
“Marcus has an amazing knack for getting people to tell him their stories – it’s because of his honesty and genuine love of New Zealand and New Zealanders,” says Rakena.
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ICE

5 x ½ hrs

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ICE is a five part series about the explorers, history, environment and animals – the reality of life in Antarctica.  
Marcus Lush and the JAM crew threw themselves at the continent for one summer and this fascinating series, is the result. . “The documentary team’s attitude was do everything, go everywhere, ask the hard questions and make the best show possible”, explains Lush, who also co-produced the series.
“Ice” delivers more than just pretty pictures of penguins and whales, although they definitely make an appearance. There’s a pinch of history, a dash of environmental awareness and stories of survival and courage.  Its not all about Scott base with plenty of time spent in the field in ice caves and tents, which presented it’s own challenges.  “We were working for hours outside in high wind-chill, and we slept out in ice caves and tents protected by the best of outdoor technology,” explains producer Melanie Rakena.  “We had hi-tech boots which elevate our feet off the ice to stop frostbite.  I don’t know how the early explorers did it in their tweed jackets and wellies.  Well, when you think about it they didn’t do it.  A number of them died,” Rakena notes, reinforcing the very real threat posed by working in this harsh environment.
The series celebrates New Zealand’s personal connections with the ice, particularly those forged by early explorers, like Robert Falcon Scott, who launched expeditions from Lyttleton more than a century ago, during the heroic era when the Pole loomed large as a last frontier to be conquered.  “I hadn’t quite realized the depth of the connection,” says Rakena, “Scott had a cousin from Lyttleton and that’s what led him to push off from here and then other expedition followed.”
The combination of historical footage, background information from New Zealand and New Zealander’s associated with Antarctica and Marcus’s sheer enthusiasm makes for a chance to get a handle on a continent that it truly unique.  “Everything surprised, I knew the history would be fascinating, but what really stunned was the landscape and the wildlife,” says Lush.  Rakena agrees and commends the practical steps taken to keep the landscape in tact.  “Everything you take in, has to come out,” she explains.  “When you are away from the base, if you need to answer the call of nature, it goes into a plastic bag or bottle and you carry it.  Everything brought into Antarctica must come back out, they don’t let anything slide,” Rakena notes clearly impressed with the environmental commitment of the New Zealand base.
The experience of filming this series has obviously left its mark on Lush and the crew. “When I was originally asked if I wanted to go to Antarctica and make a documentary, I was ambivalent, I thought it would be bleak and monotonous,” admits Lush.  “What it turned out to be was the most stunning month of my life.  If I could I would be back like a shot, “ he says.  Rakena agrees it was the shoot of a life-time but thinks being able to return would spell trouble for Antarctica.  “It was astonishing, so pristine, epic and untouched.  New Zealand looks after it’s patch down there and I just hope the other countries do too.  I can’t bear the thought of 2500 passenger tour ships bringing tourists here and that is what is planned for the future. While there are many small responsible tourism ventures the bigger the ships get the more scope there is for damage to the environment”.

Thankfully “Ice” is a chance for New Zealanders to experience some of the magic of this frozen continent without damaging it and Lush hopes it will weave the same spell on the nation that it did on him.   “The series turned out better than everyone could have possibly hoped for,” says Lush. “The continent looks absolutely stunning.”  “Ice” is a show that will inspire New Zealanders and Lush hopes viewers “will love it to bits”. 

Off the Rails

12 x ½ hrs

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There is one man in New Zealand still passionate enough about our rails and the country they roll through to put words into action. A train buff himself, Marcus Lush heads OFF THE RAILS, for 12 episodes, venturing from Bluff in the south to Opua in the North, on a remarkable array of railways, - coal, freight, steam, railcars, even a jigger or two.
Relive his fascinating and entertaining journey – hitching, hiking and catching a ride on the work beasts still plying the rail tracks. As well as learning about the richness of New Zealand’s rail history, meet amazing people along the way, with some personal insights into New Zealand history and some of our famous, and infamous – characters. You can also enjoy the spectacular scenery of New Zealand on this epic journey of discovery.
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Off the Radar

13 x ½ hrs

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There is much romance surrounding the concept of escaping the rat race to live a self-sustainable lifestyle and surely Aotearoa is the best place on earth to make this back-to-basics dream come true… so a keen man by the name of Te Radar took up the challenge and had a go at it.  

This series explores the delights and difficulties of trying to sustain oneself off what one man can hunt, grow and fish.  Te Radar discovers there is much to keep one occupied on long cold nights in the tent; do saucers of beer really keep snails off cabbages?   Does goat make tasty salami? And what happens when the time comes for Willie the pet pig to hit the dinner platter?  

Off The Radar also touches on topical green issues facing the world like the viability of solar power and how simple steps like composting and starting a worm bin reduce landfill.  

In his quest to become more self sustainable, Te Radar is calling on the help of many fascinating and resourceful folk – like Project Pete, the man with at least 100 projects half-finished in his shed and back paddock, Shawn, a local with a degree in fixing things by hand, Pru and Trish the organic gardening gurus and Wolfgang, the self-proclaimed king of scything and mud oven making.  Then there are the animal characters – Sainsbury and Campbell the calves, Willie and JT the pet porkers and a bevy of tasty birds… chickens that is.

From breaking in the veggie patch to selling off the home made pickle and home grown spuds… life Off The Radar is filled with ups and downs of living with a smaller carbon footprint.

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Radar's Patch

7 x ½ hrs

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bye bye semi-rural subsistence…
hello urban good life…
that’s Radar’s Patch

Good news; Off The Radar has put sustainability on the radar.  Even better news; Radar has a plan to take what he has learned and apply it to living a more conventional 1/4 acre dream.  It seems a waste to for New Zealand’s green pinup boy to put his new box of tricks away in the toolshed.  So Te Radar is weaving his magic on an overgrown jumble of urban weeds in just six months.  He wants to create the ultimate green backyard – Radar’s Patch.

One big lesson his Off The Radar experiment taught him was to listen and learn from those who walk the walk – which is what we used to do when our parents and grandparents taught us how to fix the lawnmower or preserve peaches.  So Te Radar will track down great New Zealanders who have the nous to grow, build, brew, fix, cook and create eco gadgets and other money-saving stuff.

With Radar’s Patch operating from a city base, the projects and changes he makes are the kind anyone with a backyard can do.  No need for acres to follow his example, just be inspired by Radar’s enthusiasm and get going.    What’s more, a lot of what he is planning to do involves Kiwi nous, the kind our forebears had and the kind we’ve forgotten we can also have.  Rather than going out and buying something new, this is about reusing stuff or creating from what you have already.

Tough times are the perfect times to motivate people to focus on recycling and doing things for themselves to create a greener backyard.  Even if their eye is more on the back pocket than the earth, it all adds up to a better country to live in.  Radar’s projects won’t be the kind of thing seen in a design magazine but it will be low impact and if you follow his lead, you too can have your own unique patch that will nourish the body and soul without warming the planet.

The Pink and White Terraces

1 x 1 hr

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The magnificent Pink and White Terraces were the Eighth Wonder of the World until they were buried by the catastrophic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. In this documentary, leading New Zealand geologists and geophysicists use advances in science and submarine technology to re-discover the long-buried terraces. “The Hunt for the Pink and White Terraces” is part detective story, part history, part geography, part science - but mostly high adventure, as the team set about finding a New Zealand legend that has been lost to us for more than a century.

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Caravan of Life

7 x ½ hrs

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How’s this for an idea for a TV show – hit the road in a 1966 Ford Falcon towing a retro caravan and stopping  and setting up camp where you feel there might be a story Mind you, this isn’t about the kind of stories everyone chases and you’ve heard a million times before.  The mission is to search out ordinary, everyday New Zealanders and the stories that make up their lives. What kind of stories will we find? Triumph, tragedy, love, loss, success and inspiration.

Hadyn Jones spent three months over summer on the ultimate kiwi road trip in search of these real New Zealand stories.  The only rule: no celebrities or wannabes – just real people with real yarns.

The plan was to start in Dargaville and head to Cromwell. The old Falcon ensured there were plenty of stops, some planned, many unplanned, along the way. It starts with Ken, a man who had been working on an engine for 26 years in his back shed. Then there was Angela, a mother of three who got a burn out car for her wedding anniversary and Shane, the kickboxing champ who organises a car rally to honour his late mum.

Not all stories involve those with two legs, or even four for that matter, so then came Putti, the dog with three legs who had gnawed one of her own legs off to escape a trap and make it home for Christmas. The there is Onion, the wobbly penguin with a bad back who got a new lease on life thanks to months of hard work by a chiropractor.

Driving an old car means things don’t always run as they should so Hadyn got to know a few mechanically minded fellows on his travels.   Gary lives in paradise, a three-car garage with his cars at one end and a karaoke set up at the other.  His impromptu concert certainly made the visit to Huntly rock.  Down the road, Roly was the first mechanic to do his apprenticeship in Taupo, back before the place had electricity and even proper streets.  Now he keeps an armada of retro Fords in mint condition in his workshop.

The South Island turned out a few champion folk - like a gun toting sharp shooter in a spangled frock, a woman doesn’t have a licence but gets over 1,000 people where they need to go each day, an ex gang member who is now the muscle behind an Marching team and a bank robber turned environmentalist.

New Zealand – one definition is “The Land of the Long White Cloud”.  Another is ”The Land Where the Road is Long and Winding and Full of Great Folk with Yarns to Tell”.

Our Lost War

1 x 1 hr

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Ever heard of Private George Salmond?  He was among the 2,700 casualties of a disastrous WWI battle that few New Zealanders know of, the Battle of Passchedaele. 
Private Salmond is the Great Uncle of actor Robyn Malcolm whose family actively acknowledge what they, and George, lost with a ceremony at his graveside in Belgium.  Malcolm’s Grandfather, JD Salmond, started the tradition of this pilgrimage in the 1920's and it is one which each generation of the clan has performed.  Our Lost War follows Malcolm as she takes her 6-month old son Charlie to meet his Uncle George.
Siegfried Sassoon wrote “I died in hell, they called it Passchendaele,” and various war historians have noted the battle epitomized the extraordinary bravery of soldiers who attempted the obviously impossible. 
For the New Zealand troops, it was a massacre that lacked the ‘Kiwi Battler’ aspects of Gallipoli and as such is rarely mentioned, let alone celebrated. Bad weather, inadequate preparation and poor military planning led thousands of young men to their deaths on October 12, 1917. 
“When George’s company withdrew, only 34 of the original 140 soldiers survived,” reveals Malcolm.  One soldier advancing after George’s company into battle thought he was in a field of pumpkins, she adds sadly, pointing out they were the packs of the dead Otago’s.  
“I’m telling George’s story because he can’t," explains Malcolm.  “In terms of military history, he is not an honoured hero. But like so many ordinary young men he gave his life, so we honour him.”
Malcolm sees George’s story as one that highlights the bonds of family and the effect war can have on it, today and in the WWI era.  With a young family of her own, the sacrifice of those left behind is not lost on her.
“You know, who I think of more than anybody else, is George’s mother,” says Malcolm. She points out that it is important to acknowledge what mothers, sisters, wives and lovers across New Zealand sacrificed to the war effort with 110,386 New Zealanders serving in World War I. and 18,166 of them never returning home.
It may surprise many New Zealanders to learn of the continued and sustained effort to honour the sacrifice of soldiers in WWI by the Belgian people almost 100 years on. “The graves are so beautifully kept and so clean, and so straight up, and formal, and honourable almost.  It’s sad but it’s very noble, and very beautiful,” comments Malcolm. “Every single one of those little white stones represented a life, a full life lost in that war,”
But perhaps the most striking example of “Lest We Forget” that Malcolm encounters is the daily rememberance service in the town of Ypres. It was at the heart of the attacks George participated in and was almost bombed out of existence. 
A Remembrance Gate was built for Allied soldiers with no known grave and the town started a daily ceremony in 1929 to honour the 55,000 names on the gate.  Except briefly in World War II, people gather every night, a mixture of locals and relatives of the war dead, to play the last post, hear prayers of thanks and to read aloud the names of soldiers who would have died that day during the WWI battles in the area.
It takes ten minutes to drive from the town of Ypres to the village of Passchendaele but between 1914 and 1917 it took 1,700,000 lives.  “I want George to know he is not forgotten,” says Malcolm as she echoes the still timely words her grandfather wrote in the 1920’s  “Lest we forget the folly and hatred of war.”
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Working Holiday

8 x ½ hrs

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An overseas adventure is a Kiwi rite of passage… in more ways than one.  But imagine getting an OE for free.  Too good to be true?  Yes, actually.  There’s a catch – this isn’t a holiday, it’s a WORKING HOLIDAY.  Eight brave young kiwis have agreed to board a plane with no idea what their Working Holiday will involve.  That means they have to take the risk their trip could end up more like a working hell than a working holiday.
This series is about living and working in another country but, most importantly, it is about experiencing another culture.  That said, ravel is not always easy  - what with sickness, homesickness and language barriers – and this series does not shy away from the realities of travel.  Working Holiday aims to capture the real essence of an overseas experience.