Returning to Bastion Point
Monday 23 May, 2016
Thirty-eight years after one of the most important protest events in NZ’s history, newly restored footage of the Bastion
Point occupation and eviction will return to the people and place it was filmed.
On Wednesday 25 May, a restored version of the documentaryBastion Point - Day 507 will be gifted and screened for Ngāti Whātua at Ōrākei marae by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
That’s the 38th anniversary of the day when protesters occupying Bastion Point - or Takaparawhau - were evicted by
police and armed forces, ending an occupation that had lasted 506 days.
The political climate of the time meant that Bastion Point – Day 507 was not able to be widely shared, and was for many years available to the public only through worn film prints and
Ngā Taonga film conservators have worked with the original cinematographer, Leon Narbey, to produce a beautifully
restored digital version of Bastion Point - Day 507.
“In the spirit of giving back and building relationships, taking this beautiful restoration back to Ngāti Whātua at
Ōrākei is the right thing to do,” says Ngā Taonga Pou Ārahi, Honiana Love.
Sharon Hawke (daughter of Bastion Point occupation leader Joe Hawke) says: “We are delighted and moved by the gesture to
receive a copy of this powerful visual document.
“We are reminded that mainstream media refused to televise this back in the day for a decade. This is a major tribute to
the late Merata Mita who fought hard to get this film finished and we honour her at this viewing.”
On Wednesday, a Ngā Taonga delegation, along with filmmakers Leon Narbey and Gerd Pohlman, will travel to Ōrākei to
present and screen the documentary, and tell the story of its restoration.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is New Zealand’s archive of film television and sound, with a collection of 750,000 titles spanning 120 years of
recorded sound and moving images.
About the restoration of Bastion Point - Day 507
Merata Mita, Leon Narby and Gerd Pohlman’s powerful documentary Bastion Point - Day 507 (1980) (27 minutes) depicts the eviction of protestors from Bastion Point during the struggle for Māori land rights.
The political climate of the time meant that Bastion Point – Day 507 was for many years only available to the public through worn film prints and low-resolution video.
Ngā Taonga Kaiwhakataki/Programme Coordinator, Lawrence Wharerau, says although he has watched the footage many times,
the restored version reveals faces he has never before identified. That includes Dilworth Karaka, one of the founding
members of Herbs; musician and composer Taura Eruera; and Will Ilolahia, who was involved as a member of the civil
rights activist group, the Polynesian Panther Party.
“I was never able to pick them out before, but the picture’s that much clearer now,” says Lawrence. “The work that Leon
and our conservators have done has re-instilled the mana and integrity of the film.”
To restore the film, Ngā Taonga moving image conservators spent weeks examining and preparing the original 16mm colour
master negative and magnetic sound track, ready to be scanned frame-by-frame by our in-house technical experts.
Then in consultation with the film’s cinematographer, Leon Narbey, Ngā Taonga conservators and technical experts spent
over 50 hours completing post-scanning work at Park Road Post Production in Miramar, including colour-grading,
stabilisation and digital cleaning.
As with all archival restorations worked on by Ngā Taonga, the goal was not to make the film look better than it did
before, but to accurately reflect how the work appeared when it was originally produced.