Issue date: 
Thursday, 21 February 2019

With great sadness the NZFC and the New Zealand screen industry bids farewell to writer and director Peter Wells.

A life-long lover of film, Peter’s first short film, Foolish Things (1980) was an experimental piece which screened in Australia and won awards in Europe. The film was Wells’ first collaboration with then partner Stewart Main.

The pair went on to work on two short films for groundbreaking television series, About FaceJewel’s Darl (1985), written and directed by Wells, was nominated for three New Zealand television awards.

A Death in the Family (1986), also made for television, was based on the death of a close friend from AIDS and won an American Film and Video Association Award.

Well’s appreciation of architecture informed his next two films, The Newest City on the Globe (1986) about Napier’s unique art-deco style, and The Mighty Civic (1988) a tribute to Auckland’s magnificent theatre which was then under threat of demolition.

Wells and Main wrote and directed feature film, Desperate Remedies (1993), a lavish and flamboyant melodrama set in a fictional New Zealand colonial town.  The film screened at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and sold well internationally. With its over-the-top costumes and production design, the film has gathered a cult following in the years since its initial release.

After Desperate Remedies, Wells focused primarily on writing.  His debut collection of short stories, Dangerous Desires, was published to great acclaim and one of the stories, Of Memory and Desire, was adapted by Niki Caro for her first feature, 1997’s Memory and Desire.

Subsequent publications include 2003 novel Iridescence, the autobiographical The Long Loop Home (2001), collection of essays On Going to the Movies (2005) and biography The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso (2011).  His final book, Hello Darkness, was published just last week and collates the many Facebook posts Wells wrote while suffering through a terminal cancer diagnosis.

In 2006 Wells was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and film.

Our thoughts are with his husband, Douglas, and his many friends and family.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 21 February 2019