Text Box: ABOUT US

Jon Smyth became involved in “The Search For Boeing One” in 1988 when he saw an article on John Earnshaw’s documentary project The Search For Boeing One in the now defunct Auckland Sun newspaper. CLICK HERE to learn more about “The Search For Boeing One”.


Born in 1952, Te Kuiti, NZ and  educated in Hamilton and Auckland, Smyth worked as a freelance photographer and in print media (early70s) then worked as a photojournalist and professional musician (late ‘70s / early ‘80s) and formed a Hamilton based photography and graphic design company (Altered Image)  in the late 70s.  In ‘84 he was appointed R&D officer of child accident prevention research project  based at the University of Waikato where he produced multimedia  educational and promotional aids, ran seminars for health and safety professionals and organized sponsorships for the project. He initiated the 1984 TV2 Telethon the proceeds of which were distributed by the Youth and Child Development Trust, a concept developed by Smyth and Charles Haynes Advertising. In ‘85, to further the work of the project, Smyth and project director Dr Dennis Embry founded the Safe Playing Trust, later renamed the NZ Child Safety Foundation, NZ's largest repository of child accident prevention information. Smyth served as a trustee for the Foundation from early '92 until 2007 when he resigned to devote more time to two other charitable projects: ChildSafeNZ.org and The Electronic Media Foundation.


In ‘86 Smyth opened a commercial photography studio in central Auckland. His clients included AMEX, Radio 91FM, Classic Hits 97FM, Communique Corporate Communications, NZI, Wynns, Tararua Cheese, Hansells, Lada, Fisher and Paykel and many others. In ‘93/94 he directed & produced 2 documentaries on outlaw motorcycle culture and in ‘94 worked with film maker Sanjay Theodore on 'Under The Carpet', Theodore's accolade winning documentary on racism against the NZ Indian community. Smyth also worked on various television productions including 'Heroes', 'Hercules', 'True Crime' and the NZ feature film 'Arriving Tuesday'.


In ‘94 he became a founding member of the Electronic Media Foundation a charitable trust assisting community service groups with educational multimedia resources.  Smyth currently serves as the Foundation’s Executive Officer and has since directed and produced community service productions including “Living with HIV”, an orientation film, “What Will Happen if I Tell?”a victim support programme and a training video for the Department of Internal Affairs on the mechanics of trading child pornography on the internet. In ‘99 Smyth was director of photography on Harry Wong's “Night of The Hungry Ghost”. He has also directed two music videos, a tongue in cheek “sci fi” training video for Pizza Hut and is currently filming a documentary based on “The Hijack of Boeing One” book and another on human substance use and the mechanics of prohibition.


The Hijack of Boeing One is his first book. Smyth’s writing exploits have previously been confined to documentary scripts and technical articles on photography and information technology. Jon lives in the Waitakeres (West Auckland).

JON SMYTH / writer ~ director

JOHN EARNSHAW/ film-maker ~ Producer

The Search For Boeing One

John Earnshaw became involved in the quest to find the first Boeing in 1978 when, having heard a story about the first Boeing aircraft having been brought to New Zealand in 1918 and which subsequently disappeared 6 years later, began research that would lead to the formation of Mallard Productions Ltd in 1983 and his ill fated documentary film project “The Search For Boeing One”. CLICK HERE to learn more about “The Search For Boeing One”.


Earnshaw was born in the U.K. in 1939. In the early '50s he went to live in Bangalore where his father worked as an aircraft engineer. While growing up in India Earnshaw learnt to fly gliders and Tiger Moth biplanes. He also had a keen interest in photography which would ultimately lead him into a 40 year long career in cinematography.


In '58 he returned to England and joined the merchant navy as an apprentice deck officer but he soon found that life on the sea wasn’t for him. In the early 60s he began working for a TV commercial company based in London’s Soho district. It was there that Earnshaw met a feature film crew who asked him to join them on their next feature film as 2nd camera assistant. This lead him to a career working with luminaries such as John Guillermin, Roman Polanski, David Lean and Stanley Kubrick. His British feature credits include 'The Blue Max', 'The Battle of Britain', ’2001 A Space Odyssey’ and ‘Ryan's Daughter’. As a documentary cameraman his credits include work for the Shell Oil Company, BP and the British armed forces.


Earnshaw emigrated to New Zealand in 1975 and established himself as a cinematographer on television commercials, feature films and documentaries working with New Zealand film makers like Rodger Donaldson and David Blyth. Earnshaws’s NZ credits include over 500 commercials for clients including Johnson & Johnson, Schweppes, Air New Zealand, Datsun and Qantas. He has been director of photography on two New Zealand features: Angel Mine and A Women of Good Character. He has filmed documentaries for the New Zealand Dairy Board, AHI, New Zealand Oil Refineries and Track Productions.


Earnshaw met Jon Smyth in 1988 when Smyth signed up as the stills photographer on  “The Search for Boeing One” production. Earnshaw is now retired and lives on Auckland’s North Shore.


“I can't believe that research into finding an old aircraft to make a documentary film could generate so much antipathy from so many so called ‘public servants’. And now to be told by the Court that, not only have I wasted 20 years of my life researching this project, I also have to pay the Crown $80,000 for the privilege (when they were supposed to be my partners), is incredible. With the benefit of hindsight I certainly would not have pursued this project and, looking back, it is debatable whether I should have come to New Zealand in the first place. While I have made a lot of friends in New Zealand both in the film industry and during the research for The Search for Boeing One, the duplicity and stupidity of some of the bureaucrats  I have had to work with had to be seen to be believed. They swamped my simple documentary project in secret agenda and suffocated it.”


John Earnshaw commenting after the outcome of the North Head/Search for Boeing One High Court litigation. Auckland, New Zealand , 2003.

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