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All-Time Top 20 Greatest Hits

By NZ On Screen team
1st October 2013

 All-Time Top 20 Greatest Hits

All-Time Top 20 Greatest Hits

 NZ On Screen team

By NZ On Screen team


Happy Birthday NZ On Screen

Five years of NZ screen culture = 3,550,000 visits (now 110,000+ a month), a Qantas Media Award and 2,150+ titles. This collection honours our most-watched titles (to Oct 2013). Choose from Billy T to topless newsreaders, Snell to Patu!, Kimbra to Kea, meat pies to motorheads, Bob Jones biffo to Thingee’s eye pop, in this sampler pack of NZ On Screen goodness.


The Fifth Birthday Top 20

 Britten: Backyard Visionary

This Ian Taylor-produced doco on John Britten (the Kiwi “who stood the world of racing-motorcycle design on its head", Guggenheim curator Ultan Guilfoyle) is our most-watched title. Literally shaped with No 8 wire the story of Britten’s bike has resonated with motorheads from Slovenia to Southland.

 Police Ten 7 (always blow on the pie)

It was the food safety advice heard around the world. The night footage of a policeman interrogating a suspected car thief on TVNZ's long-running crime series was routine until the officer's deadpan response regarding a microwaved pie. From left-field it became a global 'odd spot' sensation.

 Loose Enz - The Venus Touch

Rescued from the vaults by NZ On Screen this infamous farce proved that topless could still transfix three decades later. The tale of a sexologist (Grant Tilly) and his eccentric patient (Bruno Lawrence) saw Angela D'Audney (as the doc's wife) making the news rather than reading it.

 What Now? - Kimbra excerpt

In 2001 Kimbra Johnson was an effervescent 11-year-old in Rikki Morris’ studio investigating the mechanics of song recording in a series of segments for What Now?. A decade later she would grace the top spot of the Billboard US singles chart, creating international interest in this clip. 

 Close Up - Big Dealers (feat. John Key)

This Close Up time capsule offers a fascinating portrait of 80s job du jour: 'forex' dealer. The intrepid reporter braves waterbeds and squash racquets to head into "the pit" (trading room) and chronicle the working life of 25-year-old accountancy graduate — and future Prime Minister — John Key.

 Kea - Mountain Parrot

Our sixth most-watched title ever, this NHNZ award-winner went viral overnight in 2009 courtesy of a mention on Aghast twitchers checked out night footage that reveals the usually delightfully curious and inventive kea, starved and in horror movie mode eating live sheep (clip four). 

 The Son of a Gunn Show - Thingee's Eye Pop

Paul Casserly on the ocular incident that occurred during the filming of a kids' TV show: "It really is a gem and some consider it to be the moment that this country truly became a nation. No offence to Gallipoli." It took a bloopers special and the internet to send the alien’s eye intergalactic.

 Tama Tū

Six Māori Battalion soldiers camped in Italian ruins wait in silence during a pause in fighting; the bros-in-arms distract themselves with jokes before they return to the fray. From Boy director Taika Waititi, the most watched short film onsite won acclaim at Sundance and Berlin film festivals.

 The Best of The Billy T James Collection

This selection of Billy T’s classic TV skits is ninth on the all-time list, affirming the timelessness of the humour from the bro with the golden towel. There’s Te News, the first contact gags, Turangi Vice, and the priceless Pixie Caramel and “where’d you get your bag?” advert spoofs.

 On the Run

Showing the mana of the legendary Kiwi running coach this 1979 gutbusting gem blew out the archive cobwebs and did laps of the global running world. It showcases Arthur Lydiard's training methods through the example of his acolytes, including then-reigning Olympic 1,500m champ John Walker. 

 Mt Zion

The Mt Zion trailer on NZ On Screen helped pave the way for the feel-good Pukekohe potato picker tale. X-Factor judge Stan Walker makes his acting debut as aspiring singer Turei who has to choose between whānau and letting the music play when Bob Marley comes to town.

 Peter Snell - Athlete

Twelfth on the list but first across the line, this NFU film tells Snell's story up to just prior to his double Olympic triumph at Tokyo, 1964. Priceless footage of Snell, Halberg et al running in the Waiatarua hills, and of legendary coach Lydiard, has connected with running fans worldwide.

 Eating Media Lunch - Best Of (Episode)

Presenter Jeremy Wells manages to keep a straight face as he mercilessly satirises all manner of mainstream media in the cult satire series. With no DVD release imminent (due to archive clearances) NZ On Screen is the only place you can (legally) see Shrek murdered or porno film Anal Mana.


Merata Mita’s startling record of the mass civil disobedience that took place in the winter of 1981 — protesting the South African rugby tour and apartheid regime — is a landmark in NZ film history. Tens of thousands have watched the doco, able to be widely seen for the first time on NZ On Screen.

 Eyewitness News - Bob Jones punches reporter Rod Vaughan

In 1985 TVNZ went searching for forthright New Zealand Party leader Bob Jones to interview, and after chartering a chopper, found him fishing near Turangi. Jones was not amused. He bopped reporter Rod Vaughan, whose bloody face became, as Paul Casserly says, "etched onto our collective cathode".

 Heartland - Wainuiomata

This edition of Heartland was legendary. Chloe Reeves, with her squeaky voice and tiger slippers became a national figure, and in the second clip the young fella directing traffic with a road safety lollipop is future All Black halfback Piri Weepu. To help you play 'where's Piri?' — he's around 6.40 in.

 Tonight - Robert Muldoon interview

This infamous May 1976 battle of wills between journalist Simon Walker and PM Robert Muldoon sees the latter piqued by Walker’s interrogation of his assertions regarding the Soviet naval presence in the Pacific: “I will not have some smart alec interviewer changing the rules half way through.”

 Bastion Point - The Untold Story

In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing project on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. 506 days later police and army arrived en masse, to remove them. This doco examines the land’s rich and tragic history, including footage from doco Bastion Point Day 507.

 Love, Speed and Loss

Exploring the tragic glory of the need for speed this acclaimed doco about motorcyclist Kim Newcombe (who turned heads in the 70s on a König motorbike he developed himself before being killed racing) proved an instant hit with international bike racing fans, revving up DVD sales and views.

 Gloss - Episode One

More way-we-were fascination and retro style obsession with all things 80s continues to drive punters to the Redfern family saga. Yuppies, Sony Walkman, shoulder-pads and methode champenoise abound ... "Here we come and we are sailing" (as the infamous America's Cup campaign song warbled).

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Professor Roger Horrocks blows out the candles and celebrates NZOS becoming "an established part of New Zealand culture." Read More ›

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NZ On Air CEO and Digital Media Trust Board trustee Jane Wrightson reflects with pride on NZ On Screen turning five. Read More ›

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Thank you very much!

Thank you very much!

Cheers to our funders: NZ On Air, and to the generosity of the producers, writers and performers, who make NZ On Screen possible.