As it has for the past eight years, Maori Television steps once more into the breach this Friday for a full day of Anzac programming. It is host broadcaster of the dawn service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the service at Chunuk Bair in Turkey. Judy Bailey, Julian Wilcox and Wena Harawira will anchor from the Maori Television studios, and there is everything from an Anzac concert to a heroic Kiwi nurse.
Two documentaries commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Italian and Pacific campaigns. The Italian Campaign (7.00am) features military historian Monty Soutar, whose uncle fought in the Battle of Cassino, and an animation of how Cassino looked before battle. Born of Conflict – Children of the Pacific War (9.00am) is an Otago University production about children of US soldiers. It features a Maori family of triplets who were fostered as babies; two travel to the US to be reunited with their half-siblings.
The day’s highlights also include Nga Uri o Ruku te Kapa – B Company Maori Battalion (6.00pm), the next documentary in the series that is recording the exploits of that famous battalion, and On a Wing and a Prayer (11.00am), in which Cameron Bennett talks to Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the famous Dam Busters bombing raid. Then, in An Anzac Conversation (11.30am), Julian Wilcox talks to our most famous filmmaker, Sir Peter Jackson, about his interest in the Gallipoli campaign. Given that Sir Peter also had a plan to remake The Dam Busters, it’s appropriate that the 1955 version of the movie screens at noon.
In DIY Defence (5.00pm), military buff Phil Wallington looks at some of the nuttier ideas New Zealanders thought up during World War II, including the Semple tank.
TVNZ isn’t completely missing in Anzac action. It will cover the National Commemorative Service (11.00am) on Friday and it is screening the movie-length docu-drama Field Punishment No. 1 (TV1, Tuesday, 8.30pm), a terrific piece of work from the production company that made Tangiwai – A Love Story. It’s about World War I conscientious objectors, among them Archie Baxter, father of poet James. Cruel and unusual punishment was meted out to the men who refused to fight, including imprisonment, being sent to the frontline and being tied to a post overnight in the middle of winter – the infamous Field Punishment No 1.
Super Rugby (Sky Sport 1, Sky 051, 7.00pm). John Kirwan has been slowly building the Blues back to full strength in what has been an up-and-down season, and should have a full complement for this Anzac Day clash with the Waratahs at Eden Park. Piri Weepu’s incredible recovery after heart surgery will have bolstered the team, and the Blues have a 100% home-win record on their side too.
Hitler was scary enough in black and white, but Color of War VI: Adolf Hitler (Prime, 7.30am) gives evil a whole new palette. It tells the story of Hitler’s rise to power and World War II through colour film, diaries and interviews. Lost Airmen of Buchenwald (Prime, 10.25am) describes a small part of that diabolical regime. It’s a US doco about 168 Allied airmen who were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. They’d been captured in Paris and accused of being terrorists and saboteurs; the fact that any survived was due largely to the leadership of New Zealander Phil Lamason. After the war, however, their story was met with embarrassment and denial and it took 40 years for it to emerge.