Counties-Manukau essays

Vincent Ward and River Queen

Bruce Ringer


If you take out the dvd of New Zealand director Vincent Ward’s River Queen, note that it has a Counties-Manukau connection. Four boats from Waiuku Museum were borrowed for the film: the Seaweed, the Agnes, the whaler James Walton and the lifeboat River Queen.

One of Vincent Ward’s earlier films, The Navigator (1988), had an even closer Manukau connection. Production headquarters were based in the old works depot at Mangere Crossing. Some scenes were shot in the Otuataua quarry at Ihumatao. The submarine scene was shot in a pond at Wattle Farm Reserve.

This pond had served as Manurewa’s sewage oxidation pond between 1959 and 1966. Today it is mostly used by model boat enthusiasts.

Another Manukau pond also had a close connection with an iconic New Zealand film. Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors (1994) takes place mostly in settings of urban squalor. There is one contrasting scene of misty pastoral beauty, however. This was shot beside what were then the Mangere oxidation ponds.

For more information: see Manukau’s Journey.

Publication record: first published in Connexions, no. 84, February 2006, p. 3. Revised for publication on the Manukau Libraries website in September 2009.

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