The Collection of 29 films and over 1494 black and white photographs includes U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to New Zealand in 1943 and shows her touring Whakarewarewa with Guide Rangi Dennan. It also shows Māori kapahaka at huge events in Gisborne and Kāpiti.

Other highlights are: rugby games, hospital scenes, dancing in the Cecil Club in Wellington, farm visits and extraordinary footage of the Marines’ beach-landing exercises under fire at Paekākāriki.

Hatch and his team used two types of camera: a huge Panavision-style 35 mm camera that was mounted on a tripod and needed two people to lift and operate it... and a short-mag 'Eyemo' 35mm camera that could be hand-held and had a three-lens turret.

In either case, it was a bulky and unwieldy way of capturing images – considering we can now film widescreen 4k from a good quality mobile phone.

So, imagine carrying that heavy equipment into a war zone... leaping out of an amphibian under machine-gun fire, wading to the shore as men fell dead around you, onto an exposed beach, into the blasted tropical bush... an awesome feat of bravery from such young men.

The films are largely camera rolls made for a news feature called, Meet New Zealand, by Norm Hatch. Each film is about eight minutes long; 16 have been digitised and converted from nitrate to 4K in the U.S.

Meet New Zealand was intended to show the hospitality of New Zealanders to the Marines. Eighty years later it provides a unique view of Aotearoa and its people through an American lens. Captions on the black and white photographs are hand-written by Hatch and other photographers in his team. They’re written in their vernacular as young men in 1943. Though there were restrictions about giving away the exact whereabouts of US Forces in the Pacific, the film was never 'banned'... it was simply overtaken by events.

Norm Hatch and his team followed the 2nd Marine Division to Tarawa - into a dreadful firefight to secure the islet of Betio. His footage from that battle was so shocking and 'in the moment' that the sweet New Zealand footage was literally sidelined as Americans saw their own men in the heat of battle for the first time. Meet New Zealand was simply shelved... until Hatch alerted Steve La Hood to its existence 70 years later.

Steve La Hood and the Trust recently brought a high resolution copy of the Collection, including 14 low resolution original films, back to New Zealand and donated it to the Ngā Taonga Sound & Film Archive who launched it on-line on June 14, 2022.

A high resolution copy is still jointly owned by Steve La Hood and the Trust. With the aid of a 2021 grant from the Lottery Environment & Heritage Fund the Trust then worked with Steve La Hood to make Meet New Zealand, a short film show-casing significant content from the collection. It was launched in Paekākāriki on June 21 as part of the Trust’s 80th Anniversary activities.

In addition, the Trust has created this website to promote the collection in Kāpiti and the wider Wellington region. Its goal is to provide context and information on the films and images and make low resolution versions of some of the films and photographs available to the public. View Accession Schedule

While we call this collection of work, the Norm Hatch Collection, it was very much a team effort. Norm Hatch was certainly the young talented leader; however, he also had a talented team of at least 14 men working with him, making films and shooting photographs. The photograph (below) shows the core group, but there were others we know of or haven’t yet heard of who’re not listed. You will see all these names attributed at the end of the photographic captions.


First Row: Tech. Sgt. Carlos Steele, Cpl. Jack Ely, Sgt Ferman H. Dixon, Staff Sgt. John F. Ercole, Cpl. E. Newcomb, and Sgt. Ernest J. Diet. Second Row: Pvt. Chris G. Demo, Sgt. Forrest Owens, Cpl. Jim R. Orton, and Cpl. Raymond Matjasic Back Row: Sgt. Roy Olund, Capt. Louis Hayward, Marine Gunner John F. Leopold, Staff Sgt. Norman Hatch. Pfc. William Kelliher was not present for the picture. Photo's source: