It's Easter and while a lot of us just enjoy having a long weekend and eating far too much chocolate and far too many hot cross buns, traditionally the Easter break has been a little bit more, shall we say, spiritual.
The significance of the holiday may have changed for many people throughout the years, but we have quite a history in New Zealand of both religious observation and radical thinking.
Take Sir Lloyd Geering, New Zealand's best-known theologian. He has just recently celebrated his 100th birthday and is still widely sharing his sometimes controversial views on the topic of religion. But in the 1960s, Geering divided the Presbyterian Church, and at the same time made television history, when his trial for heresy was broadcast live to the country.
Watch an excerpt from The Last Western Heretic here:
Easter weekend may be the perfect time to get in the garden before winter makes itself known. So who better to take some tips from than Sister Loyola Galvin? This film follows four seasons in the life of the irresistible gardening nun, who gives the viewer her opinions on everything from compost to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.
Watch Sister Loyola Galvin in the trailer for Gardening with Soul here:
The Whanganui settlement of Jerusalem had its moment in the national spotlight when poet James K Baxter made it his home in the early 1970s – but Jerusalem has long been the home to a strong Māori community and the Catholic order of the Sisters of Compassion. This documentary spends a year in Jerusalem looking at the world of co-existing contrasts; Māori and Pākehā, young and old, and secular and religious.
Watch the trailer for How Far is Heaven here:
Director Kathleen Mantel was given unprecedented access to the previously hidden world of the Exclusive Brethren for this Inside New Zealand documentary. It explores the often traumatic and sometimes tragic results that occur when members leave the fundamentalist sect, after which they are completely cut off from family and friends who remain within the church.
Watch a clip from Leaving the Exclusive Brethren Here:
Before he turned his hand to directing feature films, Barry Barclay spent five years training to be a priest. In this film, he centres on the thoughts of four people – an artist, an actor, a priest and a high flyer – as they reflect on the themes of spirituality, identity and isolation. The trick is to find out which one of them is acting?
Watch Sam Neill in Ashes here:
This film follows the journey of 7-year-old Rinpoche as he becomes the first Buddhist High Lama in the Southern Hemisphere to be incarnated. It's a long way from Kaukapakapa to the Himalayas, where Rinpoche will spend the next 20 years in a monastery studying Buddhism.
Meet the 'Venerable Pong Re Sung Rap Tulku Rinpoche' in an excerpt from Kiwi Buddha here:
Ginette McDonald and Moana Maniapoto are just two well-known women who went to a convent school when growing up. In this documentary, they speak candidly about the nuns' strict rules and discipline – far removed from the education of today. Despite the tough ride, many former convent girls say they wouldn't change their experience for the world.
Ginette McDonald speaks about her education in Once a Convent Girl here:
Economist and former TOP Party leader Gareth Morgan is no stranger to controversy. In this episode of My God – a TV One series on spirituality – he is typically forthright about his views on God and explains why he is a practising atheist.
Watch My God here:
During the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, the city's stunning Catholic basilica, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, was severely damaged in the deadly shake. This documentary follows what became one of the biggest heritage preservation projects in New Zealand history. As parishioners tell their stories about the building, it becomes clear that it's not just an architectural treasure, but the very heart of a community.
Watch New Zealand Stories: Battle at the Basilica here: