18 July 2002


“ Much of the material would be hilarious if the consequences were not so tragic ... a powerful piece of history.”

— Gordon Campbell, from The Film Festival 2002 Programme

In a Land of Plenty

ALISTER BARRY’S new film “In a Land of Plenty” will be showing at the Film Festivals in Wellington and Auckland over the next two weeks. It is an excellent overview of the story of unemployment on New Zealand from 1984 to 1999.

Barry, the director of the acclaimed “Someone Else’s Country—the story of the New Right revolution in New Zealand”, has again brought together a collection of speeches and interviews from political leaders and ordinary New Zealanders — much of which has been retrieved from TV news archives. The documentary charts the rise of unemployment amidst the “new right” policies in the 80s and 90s and the political and bureaucratic response that followed.

Barry reminds us that from the 1930s to the mid 1980s, successive New Zealand Governments regarded full employment as the first objective of economic policy. With the election of the fourth Labour government in 1984, the policies and institutions which had sustained full employment were abandoned or modified, and unemployment became an instrument of economic management. This film traces the close links between monetary policy, the fight against inflation, and the consequential levels of unemployment over this 15-year period.

The 2-hour documentary stops its historical narrative at the election of the Labour-led government at the end of 1999. In the midst of another election campaign three years later, viewers are naturally left wondering how Alister Barry would present the more recent initiatives on these issues ... as the story of unemployment in New Zealand continues. — vivian Hutchinson

In a Land of Plenty
— the Story of Unemployment in New Zealand
(documentary NZ 2002) 112 minutes
written and directed by Alister Barry
narration by Ian Johnstone
produced by the Community Media Trust
in association with Vanguard Films
with the assistance of the
Screen Innovation Production Fund

Festival Screening Times
Sunday 21st July 2002 at 3.15pm
Tuesday 23rd July 2002 at 3.45pm
Thursday 25 July 2002 at 6.15pm
Friday 26th July 2002 at 11.15am

also available on video from
The Community Media Trust
P.O.Box 3563, Wellington
Fax 04-472-5259
$30 incl GST for individuals
$70 for groups, $110 for institutions

  • Alister Barry : “New Zealand used to be a country of full employment. When I was a youth I could expect to get a well paid job any time I wanted one. There was some, what experts call, “frictional” unemployment but this didn’t involve high levels of anxiety. Another job was always just around the corner. Families and individuals may have had problems of one sort or another, but they weren’t stressed out about being unable to find work or feed the family. “

    “So why did it change? That is what I set out to investigate in my research for this film. A script was developed and then the huge NZ Television archives database and film library searched for relevant material. Interviews were planned and filmed. In many ways this documentary is a more revealing film than “Someone Else’s Country”, more “investigative” in the sense that people don’t know much of this story in the same way that we all intuitively knew the story of the new right revolution”.

  • Gordon Campbell, writing in the Film Festival 2002 Programme: “A lot of this footage is priceless, capturing the endless capacity for self-delusion among the prophets of Rogernomics. Much of the material would be hilarious, if the consequences were not so tragic — and Barry has edited it all into a powerful piece of history that puts to shame the dreck that our channel bosses have demanded that television current affairs must all too often be in this country ...”


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