The Parent Body has its own website which carries links to all the film societies currently operating in New Zealand. You can access it here:


But to go back to the beginning...


The New Zealand Film Institute was founded in February 1947, when it was realized the Film Societies then operating in New Zealand and importing and hiring films individually would be better served by pooling their films and resources. Since then, all importing of films for societies was arranged by the Institute, the separate societies thus spared the labour and frustration connected with such work. When the New Zealand Film Institute was established there were only five Film Societies requiring their services.


One issue the Film Institute had to face was the status of 16mm (sub-standard) film prints, in relation to the 35mm film prints used in the commercial industry. This subject was part of a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry which began in May 1948. The Wellington Film Society's Monthly Film Bulletin June 1948 reported on the first week of sitting. In the Monthly Film Bulletin November 1949 edition, the editor John O'Shea, reported on the Parliamentary Committee's Report.


Proceedings of the second annual conference of the NZ Film Institute was reported in the Monthly Film Bulletin June 1949. The third annual conference was held in Auckland, as reported in Wellington's Monthly Film Bulletin March 1950. The fourth annual conference was held in Welliington in early February. The Monthly Film Bulletin May 1951 reported the President's Address.


The Monthly Film Bulletin of the Wellington Film Society, now renamed, in its issue of Films of the Month May 1954 carried an article called "The Institute" , which described the workings of the parent body for those members who may not have been familiar with it. The function of the NZ Film Institute was again covered in November 1955 with an article published in Sequence, written by Walter Scott, the chairman of the Working Committee.


At the Annual Meeting the following year, reported in March 1956, a President from Wellington was elected for the first time.


By 1957 the Annual Meeting of the Council of the New Zealand Film Institute, held in Wellington on Saturday 2 February, was attended by thirty delegates and observers, representing twelve Film Societies. But there were even more film societies than those attending as the President said in his address, reported in Sequence March 1957


Following on the favourable reception which greeted the first issue of the NZFI's Newsletter, the Working Committee decided to continue publication. In the second issue, in place of an editorial, they printed an article by the President of the New Zealand Film Institute, Mr Dennis Garrett: NZFI Newsletter August 1957


Pressure of work broke the pattern of quartery bulletins, the next issue being NZFI Newsletter March 1958. In the next issue, an article by Ngaere Nathan, then President of the New Zealand Film Institute, offered some sobering advice. See NZFI Newsletter June 1958. In the last issue of the year, Mr Leslie Cutts, who had been editor since the Newsletter's inception, announced his resignation as he was leaving for an extended visit to the United Kingdom and Europe. In his editorial he reported on the films section of the recent Annual Report to Parliament by the Internal Affairs Department. See NZFI Newsletter September 1958


1959 saw new people producing the Newsletter. Editor Donald Yeates of the Levin Film Society and Assistant Editor Laurie Lee of the Wellington Film Society. In their first issue they introduced all the members of the Working Committee. Also Treasurer Ron Ritchie outlined why Film Societies need to be Incorporated. See NZFI Newsletter July 1959. The  following issue, NZFI Newsletter October 1959 included a Reading List. Most of the rest of this issue reported on the Wellington Film Society's Winter Film School on AlfredHitchcock


The final NZFI Newsletter May 1960, introduced two new members of the Working Committee, and included an article by the new President.


By the early 1960s, with many fluctuations, the number of affiliated societies grew to over 50. That same May 1960 Newsletter listed from north to south, the societies that were operating that year: Kaikohe, Mangawhai, Wellsford, Helensville, Paremoremo, North Shore, Auckland, Kelston, Ardmore, Waiuku, Coromandel, Thames, Waihi, Hamilton, Te Mata, Putaruru, Mangakino, Te Puke, Rotorua, Te Kaha, Kaingaroa Forest, Taumarunui, Raetihi, New Plymouth, Eltham, Hawera, Patea, Gisborne, Ngatapa, Napier, Taradale, Palmerston North, Linton Camp, Pahiatua, Levin, Upper Hutt, Pinehaven, Lower Hutt, Wellington, Blenheim, Nelson, Mapua, Motueka, Greymouth, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Lake Tekapo, Otago University, Dunedin, Lawrence.


The following year the Arts Advisory Council halved the funding they had been supplying to support the Institute. The secretary was instructed to write in an effort have have the grant restored. Inlcuded was a summary of the aims and objects of The New Zealand Film Institute: ProgressTo1961


At the Annual Conference of the Institute in Wellington in January 1962, the New Zealand Film Institute changed its name to the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies Inc. This new name more correctly described its functions. This information was conveyed in the first issue of its new newsletter Newsreel May 1962, which expanded on the background to the name change. Also included was the text the retiring President gave at the Annual Conference.


The subject of Film Education was again taken up by John Blennerhassett in Newsreel September 1962. The following issue, Newsreel March 1963, turned out to be the only one for the year. It introduced a new member of the Working Committee, reminded Film Societies of objects of the Federation, and the subject of the need for film eduction was again taken up.


The next issue of Newsreel February 1964 devoted the whole issue to film education in schools, with two long articles, first by Gordon Mirams, then by John O'Shea. The issue of Sequence May 1965 reported on the Federation Conference held in January of that year. Only two further issues of Newsreel appear to have been produced. The issue of October 1965 consisted entirely of overseas articles, and the final issue a year later devoted itself to censors and censorship. You will find extracts from that issue, covering issues in New Zealand, in our section on CensorshipReform.


The 1974 Annual Conference (the 28th), reporting on the 1973 year, was held in Auckland on 26 February. It included speeches by the President, Peter Gordon, and the Chairman of the Working Committee, Harold White.


The 29th Annual Conference in 1975 was held in Wellington on 25 February. The new Chairman of the Working Committee, David Gascoigne, in opening, introduced the Hon Henry May, the Minsiter of Internal Affairs, who spoke about aspects of film censorship, licensing and other matters. Mr Gascoigne then presented his Annual Report 1974, reviewing the year just past. In closing the meeting Mr White passed a vote of thanks to Mr Gordon, retiring President, for his staunch advocacy of small Societies, to Mr Rosier, Mr Shelton and Miss Young, and to Mr Gascoigne for his chairmanship and a leading and kindly light in the censorial gloom. A vote of thanks was passed to the Wellington Society for hospitality at the conference.


In his Report to the Annual Conference in 1975, the Chairman of the Working Committee in the section on ORGANISATION: , discussed the problems in running the parent body on purely voluntary staff and gave the example of the man-hours required to arrange the bookings for some 500 films for the almost 40 film societies. He signalled the need to seriously consider the need for full-time staff. The Working Committee immediately set up a sub-committee to prepare a report on the Future Needs and Development of the NZ Federation of Film Societies. The report was accepted by the Working Committee and a Special General Meeting was called for Saturday 19 Juily 1975 at 7.00pm at Book House in Wellington, to consider and discuss the future needs of the Federation. The report was distributed to all societies with a covering message To All Member Societies by the Acting Chairman. The resultant meeting attracted over 33 people, with 16 representing film societies from throughout New Zealand. Here is a summary of this Special General Meeting 1975. At the next Working Committee meeting on 20 August it was reported that Miss Rosemary Hope had been appointed as full-time secretary and would commence on 1 September 1975.


The 30th Annual Conference on Saturday 7 February 1976 was held at Victoria University of Wellington. The Conference was opened by the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon D A Highet. The opening address was by the Federation President Mike Nicolaidi and the major speech was by David Gascoigne, in his role as Chairman of the Working Committee. There was also a Secretary's Report, from Rosemary Hope, describing her first several months in the job. In the afternoon there was a screening of Lost In The Garden of the World, a New Zealand film-maker's look at the most recent Cannes Film Festival. After the screening, the director Tony Williams spoke about the obstacles involved in making a feature film in New Zealand .


The 31st Annual Conference was also held in Wellington - on Saturday 12 February 1977.


The 32nd Annual Conference in February 1978, reported on a very busy year for everybody concerned with films, with both an updated censorship regime and a film commission having been set up during 1977. Opening the Conference was the government minister responsible for both: the Hon D A Highet. This was the final conference in the term of President Mike Nicolaidi in absentia. Chairman David Gascoigne's Annual Report 1978 discussed both issues in depth, then went on to other matters.


The 33rd Annual Conference, was held in Napier on Saturday 24 February 1979. The theme of the conference was film preservation. In 1980, the 34th Annual Conference was held at the National Film Unit in Lower Hutt. The following year, the 35th Annual Conference was held at the Academy Cinema in the Arts Centre, Christchurch, on Saturday 21 February 1981.


The 36th Annual Meeting on Saturday 20 February 1982 was again held in Wellington, in the Unicorn and Lion Rooms at the St George Hotel. In 1983, on Saturday 19 Februrary, the 37th Annual Meeting was held in the Conference Centre, School of Architecture at the Auckland University. The concern of the meeting was how to cope with declining membership numbers and consequent diminishing of subscriptions.


The 38th Annual Meeting of the NZFFS was held in the Conference Room, Southward Museum, Paraparaumu on Saturday 18 February 1984. Mr Ian Basire, President of the Kapiti Film Society welcomed delegates and introduced Ms Margaret Shields, MP for Kapiti, who opened the Conference. See the link for the various reports. Immediate Past President, Peter Goodbehere, closed the meeting by thanking the Kapiti Film Society for their hosting of a successful Conference.


The 39th Annual Meeting of the NZFFS was held at the Friends' Settlement, 76 Victoria Street, Wanganui, on Saturday 23 February 1985.  Mr Murray Beasley, President of the Wanganui Film Society, welcomed delegates and then introduced the quest speaker, Mr Ron Rowe, tutor in business studies at the Wanganui Regional Community College, who spoke of the changing role of service organisations, with special emphasis on Lions and Rotary, in a changing society. He was followed by the three major reports of the Chairman, President and Director of the NZFFS, all of which will be found by clicking on the link for the Annual Meeting.


{more to come}



In March 2017, the members and delegates attending the Annual General Meeting of the NZ Federation of Film Societies held an anniversary dinner to mark its 70 years of existence. Most current members, and invited past members, enjoyed a pleasant evening at a local Chinese restaurant. One current member of the Management Committee got a surprise. Without his knowledge, colleagues and family ascertained that he was the longest-serving member of the committee, and presented him with a certificate to mark the occasion. At the subsequent meeting of the Working Committee, Peter Goodbehere formally thanked the committee and outlined his Life as a Film Lover .