Episode 11: The Films of John O’Shea (Part One)

This week Never Repeats jumps back in time to look at the only feature films made in New Zealand during the ’50s and ’60s – all three of which were directed by John O’Shea. Part one of our special two-part retrospective covers 1952’s Broken Barrier, a groundbreaking drama about a fraught interracial relationship, and 1964’s Runaway, about a young man on the run from his troubles – and the police.

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Broken BarrierDirectors and producers: Roger Mirams, John O’Shea
Screenplay: John O’Shea
Director of Photography: Roger Mirams

…Kay Ngarimu
Tom Sullivan…Terence Bayler
Kiri…Mira Hape
Johnny…Bill Merito
Alec…George Ormond

RunawayDirector and producer: John O’Shea
Screenplay: John Graham, John O’Shea
Director of Photography: Anthony Williams
Editor: John O’Shea

David Manning
…Colin Broadley
Diana…Deidre McCarron
Laura Kossovich…Nadja Regin
Isobel Wharewera…Kiri Te Kanawa
Joe Wharewera…Selwyn Muru
Clarrie…Barry Crump


  • Sadly, neither Broken Barrier or Runaway have ever been released on home video. The only way to see them is to head down to the medialibrary at Ngā Taonga if you happen to live in Wellington. We highly recommend signing up to their newsletter to be notified when screenings of these and many other rare New Zealand films take place.
  • If you want to get a little taste of what these films are like, NZ On Screen has the TV documentary Breaking Barriers available in its entirety. There are some great clips from both films in there (including the shots from Broken Barrier we both rave about in this episode) as well as a great overview of O’Shea’s career and Pacific Films in general. There’s also a very short clip on Youtube from Runaway. The quality is dismal, but it gives a nice look at Rim D. Paul and The Quin Tikis performing the title song, as well as a young Kiri Te Kanawa.
  • Knowledgeable listeners may spot a fairly glaring omission in our discussion of Broken Barrier. Rather than going back and re-recording, we decided it would be more appropriate to talk about it in detail during our episode about Pictures (1981) which will be coming up in about a month.
  • As you may have noticed, Hayden has a tendency to horrifically over-pronouce Māori words. He finds it just as embarrassing to listen to as you do, and is working on dialling it back in future episodes.
  • If you were curious, Rim D. Paul is still going strong and recently released his first solo album. Here’s a Rotorua Daily Post article about him from 2013.
  • The theme from Runaway got released as a 7″ single on the Zodiac label back in 1964. Well worth snapping up if you spot a second-hand copy somewhere. And on the off-chance that you spot a second-hand copy but don’t want it, e-mail us. Because Hayden does want one.

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