[The following text is based on a story from the New Zealand newspaper The Southland Times dated March 9, 1998, with additional comments from "circlemaker" John Lundberg. CNI News thanks Joe Murgia (Ufojoe1@aol.com) for bringing this story to our attention.]
An eerie glow lit up the night sky over southern New Zealand on Saturday, March 7. The glow centered on the farm of Robert and Janice Saunders in Dunearn, where large circles mysteriously appeared in a field of wheat. The strange events attracted police from Nightcaps and Winton, and a large crowd of people.
The lights were not the work of aliens but a film crew from Californian-based Tri-Crown Productions, filming a documentary on crop circles for NBC-TV. But not crop circles as an unexplained mystery. Crop circles as the work of hoaxers, pure and simple.
Producer Jeff Androsky said the filming on the Saunders' property was for a one-hour show, part of a series called "Unmasked -- Revealing the Secrets of Deception." This segment will show that talented hoaxers could have created some of the most elaborate crop formations reported in England and elsewhere in recent years.
Androsky says an inquiry to New Zealand's Crop and Food Research department turned up the possibility that the Saunders might be willing to provide a suitable wheat crop where hired hoaxers could do their thing.
"They've been great," Androsky said. "They set aside a paddock for us, Janice has fed us and they opened up their home and farm to us. We've had unbelievable co-operation. You never would get that in the U.S."
According to hired circle-maker John Lundberg, he and his comrades Rod Dickinson and Wil Russell were brought to New Zealand by the film company and asked to demonstrate what they could do. "We were asked to design a complex crop formation that could be made at night in under four hours," Lundberg says. "The formation we designed had over 100 flattened circles and a diameter of 300 feet, putting it on a par with some of the most complex formations to appear in the fields of England over the past few years."
Lundberg says the results of their effort can be viewed at on the web at http://www.head-space.com/circlemakers/nztrip.html
While the circle-makers plied their trade, cameramen and powerful lights hung suspended over the wheat field on two huge 40-ton cranes, and more film was shot from a helicopter.
The program is scheduled to air in the United States on the NBC network in May.
CNI News, along with the majority of reputable crop circle researchers, has long recognized that some crop glyphs are undoubtedly the work of skilled hoaxers. However, there is much evidence to suggest that some formations are the product of forces entirely different and separate from human activity.
In May, timed to coincide with NBC's airing of their debunking program, CNI News will run a long article detailing the crop circle research of biophysicist W.C. Levengood and his colleagues. This research provides overwhelming evidence of unusual energy effects in some crop formations which cannot be attributed to the action of hoaxers.
CNI News regrets that NBC-TV seems more interested in showcasing the results of human deception than the far more important work of dedicated researchers like Levengood.
Even so, this program might do some good in the end. Never before have legitimate crop circle researchers had an opportunity to watch the best of the professed hoaxers at work. There are bound to be lessons aplenty in NBC's footage, and perhaps even proof that a definite hoax is visibly different than a non-hoaxed formation. Stay tuned!
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