Evergreen - - Contents - Christo­pher Moor

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

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