Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Day - Finding out who you are

On Anzac Day today (ignore the stupid Google US date system) I had hoped to watch some of the excellent documentaries being screened on Maori TV. But I've been away in Auckland, and by the time I'd caught up with the washing and other odd jobs like cleaning the heat pump filter and the cat's tray, it was 3 pm. That was okay, because I had time to watch the one I most wanted to catch - Sisters Reunited. It made me very teary.

During the second world war, Bill, described only as Maori and from the South Island (it was made by the BBC, so they weren't good on his whakapapa) was stationed in Britain as a wireless operator on Lancaster bombers. He was already married, but he met and fell in love with a Scottish nurse, Jeannie. He survived the war and returned to New Zealand, where he had six children. But Jeannie had become pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, whom she called Jeannette. With no other option, she gave her up for adoption, and the girl's name was changed to Jennifer. She had lovely parents, but was badly bullied at school because of her dark skin, and always longed to know where she came from.

The documentary tells the story of how, after her own efforts had come to nothing, her New Zealand family was able to trace her, thanks to the help of a Scottish woman who met them by chance when she was visiting this country.

Because I'm adopted myself, I find programmes like this intensely moving. But I think anyone seeing it would have really responded to the story it told so well. It was the very best kind of "reality TV".

What I can't understand is why on earth we haven't already had the chance to see it on TVNZ. It was, of course, particularly suitable for Anzac Day, but it would have gone down so well on any night in prime time. But I don't think programmes like this even appear on the radar of the blinkered blokes in charge of TVNZ programming.

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