Hard News by Russell Brown


Media7: beyond our Kens

We're all about the Kens on Media7 this week.

I'll be talking to trade union leader Ken Douglas, whose biography, Man for all seasons: The life and times of Ken Douglas, by David Grant, has just been published. He has some forthright things to say about the news media's penchant for personalising economics and politics. (We had hoped to have Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard on the same show talking about his own new book, but that will have to wait for next week.)

And then we'll turn to I Am the River, Razor Films' beautiful documentary about the aborted sale and eventual acquisition of the 750 glass plate negatives and prints, that became known as the Partington Collection, after their creator, William Partington, who worked in the then-burgeoning city of Whanganui. They were found in an old suitcase by a Partington descendant in the Bay of Islands, setting the story in motion.

It's a film that expresses its politics gently, and doesn't seek to create villains, but it touches on a key question for New Zealand archivists – the different meaning that Maori invest in human images. The idea that these images are in some sense, the ancestors themselves, becomes easier to accept as the camera moves from the old prints to the modern families and finds the same round faces and big, almond eyes.

Ken Mair, who was involved in the protest that halted the sale and splitting up of the collection, is flying up to join us, and I'll be talking to him about the protest, the eventual solution, and the making of the documentary itself. Also, our tireless reporter Jose Barbosa, has made three video tracks for the show.

If you'd like to join us for the record of the show this evening, come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ between 5pm and 5.30pm. Best you drop me a note to say you're coming if possible (click "Reply" or the little envelope).

NB: I Am the River itself screens at 8.30pm on Saturday on Maori Television.

PS: Allow me to suggest you go and read Graeme Edgeler's post on the extraordinary and alarming law that got shot through your Parliament last night.

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