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Islands Of the Gulf

New Zealand television’s first ever documentary series, produced and hosted by legendary broadcaster Shirley Maddock is about to be remade 52 years later to delight new audiences.

The host will be Shirley’s daughter, actress, broadcaster, travel writer and island fanatic, Elisabeth Easther.

Produced in 1964, Islands of the Gulf was the first documentary series made in New Zealand, about New Zealand, for New Zealand television. The landmark series was written and hosted by pioneering broadcaster Shirley Maddock, our country’s first female television producer.

The series, shot entirely on film and in black and white was distinctive visually for the long, lush aerial and sea-level views of the islands, and also for Shirley’s richly evocative script that focused on everything from the flora and fauna to the quirky characters who called the islands home.

In this remake, Elisabeth Easther, actress and writer, and daughter of Shirley Maddock leads modern viewers, as her mother did 52 years earlier, on an expedition around the islands and around her mother as well.

Each quirky episode is full of rich archive footage juxtaposed with stunning new footage shot in the same locations 52 years on; fascinating local characters then and now; lots of presenter-driven material and gorgeous scenery.

Blending Shirley’s charming, often quaint comments with Elisabeth’s wry modern-day observations, viewers are given an insight into island life as well as a significant moment from the dawn of broadcasting in New Zealand.

Islands of the Gulf is set to be a timely look back, a reflection of a scintillating slither of our nation’s past, resonating with hopes for the future. Themes will include ecology, tourism, industry, marine matters and, of course, we’ll be catching up with a variety of locals and visitors to find out what life is like in the islands today.

Shirley Maddock’s programmes were loved by a nation eager to see their own stories and faces on screen - revisiting this success 52 years on will be a touching tribute and a comparison of the old ways with the new.

Funded by NZ On Air.

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