Home' Napier Mail : December 13th 2011 Contents 13
NAPIER MAIL, DECEMBER 14, 2011
Country squire: Peter enjoys watching his grapes grow through the seasons.
Life behind a lens
Forty years of NZ
Location location: In his element, Peter Janes on set.
Mountain music: Filming with musician Dave Dobbyn.
Historic day: Peter Janes is pictured
in the background with his
microphone the day the Wahine
The day the Wahine sank in 1968,
Peter Janes was standing on Sea-
toun Beach, Wellington, dripping
wet, watching the event unfold.
The 18-year-old was working as
a sound-man for the New Zealand
Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC)
-- later TVNZ -- and it was his first
brush with disaster of any kind.
He remembers that day vividly.
It was bizarre. We watched it
happen in slow motion, right in
front of us.
We were filming storm damage
around Seatoun that day; sheet
metal flying off roofs and stuff on
the road, so we d been swanning
round when we got the call to go
down to the beach because the
Wahine was in trouble. It was
pouring rain and blustery. An
Suddenly it went calm. The
ship was dragging down towards
us. Then it stopped and slowly
went over on its side. It was a
Throughout the 40-plus years
he has been a cameraman, he has
seen a lot of action from behind
Politicians have come and gone.
Muldoon was rude to the press.
He controlled everyone. He
wouldn t get away with it now:
they d hoe into him.
journalists at work, such as
Derek Fox, Neil Roberts and
David Beatson. Film-makers like
Geoff Murphy cut their creative
teeth then. He filmed one of New
Zealand s earliest music videos,
the Fourmyula s Nature, in 1969.
It was music that set Janes
career in motion.
He and his family emigrated
from England to Hawke s Bay
when he was seven years old.
As a teenager crazy about
music , Hastings wasn t exactly
swinging London, but the music of
the day was beginning to filter
down through the airwaves and
caught his imagination.
All he wanted to was be the
bloke who put the records on, like
Pete Sinclair or Rockie Douche .
Leaving school, his first job was
at the NZBC as a technical
They put me into television as
a sound recordist, but I soon got
sick of it. They wanted me to learn
how to fix radios. I saw how the
cameramen worked and thought,
That looks good , so I transferred
over. It was easy in those days.
They kind of said, Here s a
camera and a light meter, now go
and shoot some footage .
It was very basic -- we did
politicians and we did Country
Calendar. You learned on the job:
we d shoot a story, it was on the
news that night and we d see our
mistakes. I learned pretty quickly.
We were all a bunch of lads
working together and helping one
another. There were some stars
there like cinematographers Alun
Bollinger [Goodbye Pork Pie,
Heavenly Creatures] -- being
around him was very inspiring;
John Toon [Rain, Broken English,
Sylvia] and the late Allen Guilford
[What Becomes of the Broken
Hearted, Bread and Roses].
An exciting time it may have
been, but the government-run
NZBC tried its best to rein in
some of its more bohemian staff
flower child, wore my hair long
and didn t wear suits.
I got into trouble going to Par-
liament like that. They hated us!
Marriage, overseas travel and
family followed, but in England,
Janes missed home and on
returning to New Zealand he
thought he would try doing some-
thing else to earn a living.
He delivered furniture, did a
few oddjobs andhadago at
basket-weaving, but before too
long the movie camera lured him
back. This time he was based in
Dunedin and besides his day job,
he was able to indulge his love of
I always loved the way pictures
and music come together and
whenever I had the chance, I d
At the time, Flying Nun record
label was popular and I had links
to television s Radio with Pictures.
I called someone up and said
we have some interesting music
here, do you want some clips?
They took anything I offered
Another music show at that
time, Shazam, asked for some
local bands, so over a period of
time I filmed the Chills, Sneaky
Feelings, The Verlaines, Bored
Games, The Enemy, Toy Love,
The Bats, The Stones and The
Great Unwashed. Most of the foot-
age I shot is lost now. There was
no archive in the early days. I m a
bit sad about that -- there was
some really lovely stuff.
Forty years of television series
and dramas that have flitted
across our screens are in Janes
Yet he is down-to-earth about
his work and describes himself as
just the guy behind the lens .
That s my strength . . . I quite
like just being one of the workers
behind the camera.
I have an input into the cre-
ative side but it s more of a craft
for me now; being able to pan, tilt,
follow the action and judge
people s body language.
He also enjoys the camaraderie.
The dynamic of a big crew is
We all love Friday when we
have a drink together.
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