In 1954, The Seekers went into cinema history as the first film with major scenes filmed on location in New Zealand by an overseas studio.
Bringing a film crew halfway across the world to a country with limited film- making facilities was a logistical challenge 60 years ago, unlike today where the studio amenities available are world class.
The J. Arthur Rank organisation sent 23 personnel from England including actors Jack Hawkins, Laya Raki and Noel Purcell, director Ken Annakin, producer George H. Brown and cameraman Peter Hennessy for the filming which took place during the southern hemisphere summer. Interior scenes had been shot in England before their arrival.
New Zealand- born John Guthrie’s novel about the mounting conflict between Maori and British migrants in a small 1820s settlement was the basis for the script by William Fairchild.
Forty- three- year- old Jack Hawkins was Britain’s favourite film star when he came to New Zealand for the filming. His genuine modesty, sincerity and easy manner saw him well- liked by the press and the holidaymakers he met during the location filming.
Glynis Johns, his screen wife, did not film any of her scenes in New Zealand. She played Marion Southey to his Phillip Wayne.
Hawkins had arrived in Auckland from Sydney on 2nd January 1954. “The plane trip ( from England) was very tiring,” he said. “I had a wonderful Christmas with my wife and two small sons, one day to do shopping and pack, and I’m sure I have all the wrong clothes for this lovely weather.” He was here “to do a job” and expected little time for relaxation.
The role was a physical one for him, seeing him fighting with his fists instead of his brain, as he had in his other films. While filming in England, the Maori extras had taken the