Photo: The Single Object

Watch every episode of The Single Object here

Five everyday objects, five incredible stories. 

One October night in 1994, activist Mike Smith took a chainsaw to the summit of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill. His goal was to protest the government’s new Treaty settlement policy – and his form of protest would go on to capture a huge amount of public attention. Smith’s chainsaw, and the story behind it, is the subject of the first episode of new video series The Single Object.

Directed by Madeleine Chapman and Piata Gardiner-Hoskins and produced in association with Objectspace, the series tells the stories behind five everyday objects which have had a significant impact on the history and people of Aotearoa. 

Other episodes feature the pou that became the trademark of pioneering Māori modernist architect John Scott and an embroidery that captures the experience of a Congolese refugee’s journey to New Zealand. A set of printing typeface holds key insights to understanding the history of Chinese New Zealanders, while a simple ballpoint pen tells an incredible story of protest against the police’s unjust treatment of Pacific people during the dawn raids.

Learn the surprising stories behind these objects now:

Episode one: The Chainsaw

Episode two: The embroidery

Episode three: The pou

Episode four: The typeface

Episode five: The pen

The Single Object was made with the support of NZ On Air.




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