• Patrick McBride

Local film treasure

Local Rugby Historian, Adam Gilshnan has tracked down a West Coast film treasure.

The reel sent from Australia.

With help from McBride Vision and the Regent Greymouth, footage from the 'Messenger' families film reel will be transferred to digital.

"I touched base with Robert (Messenger) back in 2015 as part of the 125th Rugby Jubilee, who informed me he had some old rugby footage. I received the reel the other day and seeing what he has sent has left me speechless," an excited Gilshnan said.

The reel features West Coast playing NZ Maori in 1956 at Rugby Park, Greymouth along with a touring Springbok side playing West Coast/Buller in Westport.

"Alan McNabb, the Coast goal kicker would be thrilled to see this, the crowds are unreal, it's such a treasure".

The film features more than just Rugby with Horse Racing in Hari Hari to Speedway at Wigham Park, in Greymouth. There is yachting on the Grey River, lawn bowls around the district and footage of a Church fire on Guinness Street, which is simply jaw dropping.

Wally Messenger had been a very keen and excellent still photographer for many years, developed all his own black and white prints out in the garage at home in Blaketown.

He was always looking out for the 'latest gadgets' and in 1956 got himself an 8mm movie camera and all the attendant gear for titles and splicing footage together, which he did himself.

He won an award for best amateur documentary in 1958 - 'Tasman Harvest' was about trawler crayfishing down in Fiordland.

"He was mates with a lot of the crayboat skippers and crew, many of whom were Blaketown blokes, and went on long sea voyages with them to make the film," Robert Messenger said.

The original documentary is now with the National Film Archives.

"Sport on the West Coast was just one of many films he made from footage he shot. Of course, with these sports events he had no 'vantage points' to film from, so did the best he could from the sidelines," he added.

Robert said home movie nights were common at 18 Collins Street and included cartoons Wally bought, plus his own movies.

Once the reel is made digital Adam plans to gift a file to family and share the Rugby footage on his West Coast Rugby Museum page. McBride Vision will showcase some historical events with commentary added, from those still around today.