On Tuesday 10 October the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) will officially open the Hayward Cinema.
Named in honour of New Zealand cinema pioneers, Rudall and Ramai Hayward, the 20-seat screening room, built in partnership with NZ On Air, is in the same building as the two organisations’ Wellington offices and will be a private screening environment for staff, filmmakers, festival programmers and others to view films and rushes.
Rudall and Ramai Hayward had filmmaking careers that collectively spanned over eighty years. Sixteen years older than Ramai, Rudall was already well established as a filmmaker, and had already made three features and numerous short films when he cast Ramai as the female lead in the 1940 sound remake of his 1925 film, Rewi’s Last Stand. As well as acting and singing in the film, Ramai, who owned and operated an Auckland photography studio, also designed the poster. The pair married in 1943.
This jack-of-all-trades style of filmmaking remained the pair’s modus-operandi throughout their careers. In the late 1940s, they moved to England where Ramai wrote and worked as possibly the only female cinematographer in the country. In the 50s, the Haywards were the first English-language filmmakers to film in China after the 1949 Communist Revolution. Their film, Inside Red China, includes footage of Ramai presenting a Māori feather cape to Chairman Mao.
The Haywards produced the first colour feature film in New Zealand. To Love a Māori was a controversial film examining race relations. Always their own publicists, Ramai and Rudall travelled New Zealand with the film and in each new town, Ramai would phone every Māori name in the phone book and encourage them to see the film. Despite ill health, Rudall did his part, going out at night to stick up posters advertising the next screening.
A four-minute short film commemorating the filmmakers and their careers has been created in partnership with Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, Radio New Zealand and TVNZ. The Haywards’ whanau will attend the opening and a private blessing which will be held prior to the official opening.