This chapter explores the emergence and development of New Zealand cinema from the late 1970s to the present. Despite being a small and peripheral cinema, New Zealand has emerged as a significant entity, particularly during the 2000s with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Zealand has been shaped in relation to a wider transition from a dominion with close economic and cultural ties to a Britain to a modern south pacific nation that has been transformed by decolonisation, the renaissance of indigenous Maori culture and the influx of waves of new migrants from Polynesia and Asia. New Zealand cinema has thus reflected and contributed to this process of cultural transformation, from the first wave of films in the late 70s/early 80s, to the international breakthrough of the early 1990s led by films like The Piano, Heavenly Creatures and Once Were Warriors, to more recent developments that reflect the greater complexity of New Zealand society. This has been underpinned and driven by key policy initiatives from the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission in 1978 to the creation of a new Film Fund in 2000 to boost international co-productions and inward investment.
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