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.
During the late 1980s, Kiwi inventor John Britten developed and built a revolutionary racing motorcycle. He pursued his dream all the way to Daytona International Speedway, where, in 1992, as an unlikely underdog, he proceeded to beat the biggest and richest manufacturers in the world. Britten: Backyard Visionary documents the maverick motorcycle designer that Guggenheim curator Ultan Guilfoyle described as "the New Zealander who stood the world of racing-motorcycle design on its head."
It was the food safety advice that echoed across the globe. The late night footage of an Auckland policeman interrogating a suspected car thief on this long-running crime series seemed routine, until conversation shifted to the purchase of a pie at a local service station. The officer's deadpanned response came straight out of left field — and went viral (interestingly, only after a repeat screening of the show was posted online). The 'nek minnit' catchphrase of its day provided global news odd spot fodder, and inspired t-shirts, dubstep tracks and YouTube parodies.
In this infamous edition of the Loose Enz anthology series, sexologist Rufus (Grant Tilly) has marriage problems, due to being more theoretical than practical when it comes to the ways of the flesh. Things grow more complicated when patient Ernest (Bruno Lawrence, playing nerdy for a change) claims he is suffering from having a magic touch with women. Alongside Joy of Sex japes and punning pillow talk galore, this sex farce gained notoriety for scenes of high-profile newsreader Angela D’Audney (as the dissatisfied wife) going topless, then donning a turquoise catsuit.
A decade before she graces the top spot of the American singles chart, future pop star Kimbra Johnson is an effervescent 11 year old girl-next-door investigating the mechanics of making a hit recording in a series of segments for this TVNZ kids show. After consulting music industry experts (including Anika Moa and Francesca Rudkin) and receiving some vocal tuition, she's ready to record her song 'Smile'. The venue is Rikki Morris' studio where an arrangement is ready for her and she lays down one of the first of what will be many vocals to come.
This episode of current affairs show Close Up offers a fascinating portrait of 80s job du jour: foreign exchange dealer. The intrepid reporter heads into "the pit" (trading room) and chronicles the working life of a senior 'forex' dealer, 25-year-old squash-playing accountancy graduate, John Key. The "smiling assassin" (and future Prime Minister) is a now-familiar calm and earnest presence amongst the young cowboys playing for fortunes and Porsches in the heady pre-sharemarket crash world: "they're like addicts who eat, breathe and sleep foreign exchange dealing".
This documentary tells the story of the inimitable kea. The 'Clown of the Alps' is heralded as the world’s smartest bird (its intelligence rivals a monkey’s). Kea are famous on South Island ski fields and tramping tracks for their insatiable (and deconstructive) inquisitiveness. Curiosity almost killed the kea when it was daubed a sheep killer, and tens of thousands were killed for a bounty. Here — clip four — extraordinary night footage reveals the 'avian wolf' in action. The award-winning film makes a compelling case for the charismatic kea as a national icon.
Thingee's eye popping out is one of the most famous moments on New Zealand television, as an unflappable Jason Gunn continues hosting duties despite his co-presenter being newly one-eyed. The ocular incident occurred during filming of the The Son of a Gunn Show; it didn’t screen live but as part of a bloopers episode. Thingee was a puppet who debuted on After School, and appeared in several children's shows, including What Now?. Thingee was retired from NZ TV when he returned to his home planet. (Alan Henderson is rumoured to be the person behind the puppet.)
Six Māori Battalion soldiers camped in Italian ruins wait for night to fall. In the silence, the bros-in-arms distract themselves with jokes. A tohu (sign) brings them back to reality, and they gather to say a karakia before returning to the fray. Director Taika Waititi describes the soldiers as young men with "a special bond, strengthened by their character, their culture and each other." Shot in the rubble of the old Wellington Hospital, Tama Tū won international acclaim. Invited to over 40 international festivals, its many awards included honourable mentions at Sundance and Berlin.
Billy T’s unique brand of humour is captured here at its affable, non-PC best in this compilation of skits from his popular 80s TV shows. There’s Te News (“... someone pinched all the toilet seats out of the Kaikohe Police Station ... now the cops have got nothing to go on!”) with Billy in iconic black singlet and yellow towel; a bro’s guide to home improvement; the first contact skits, and Turangi Vice. No target is sacred (God, The IRA) and there are classic spoofs of Pixie Caramel’s “last requests” and Lands For Bags’ “where’d you get your bag” ads.
This film showcases legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard's training methods through the example of his acolytes, including reigning Olympic 1,500m champ John Walker. 'Arthur's boys' (Snell, Halberg, Magee) scored attention by winning unheralded medals (two golds and a bronze) at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Lydiard later led the 'flying Finns' to similar success. His method revolves around building stamina to complement speed, and was influential in popularising jogging globally. Beautifully filmed, a doco highlight is Jack Foster's exhilarating scree slope descent.
Australian Idol winner and X-Factor judge Stan Walker made his acting debut in this feature, as aspiring singer Turei. Part of a whānau of Māori potato pickers from Pukekohe, he has to choose between duty to family (Temuera Morrison plays patriarch 'Papa') and letting the music play. Turei's dilemma takes place as reggae star Bob Marley performs in Aotearoa in 1979, offering the chance for him to win a supporting slot at Marley's Western Springs concert. Mt Zion marked director Tearepa Kahi's first feature, after a suite of successful short films (Taua, The Speaker).
This NFU classic tells Peter Snell's story up to just prior to his triumph at the Tokyo Olympics (he had already won 800m gold in Rome and held the world record for the mile). Snell's commentary — focused, candid — plays over footage of training and racing. "It always gives a feeling of exhilaration to run in the New Zealand all black singlet." He offers insight into the methods of coach Arthur Lydiard (15 miles a day, 100 miles a week). Includes priceless footage of Snell running in the Waiatarua hills, through bush and leaping farm fences.
Presenter Jeremy Wells manages to keep a straight face as he mercilessly satirises all manner of mainstream media and "issues of the day" journalism in long-running satire series, Eating Media Lunch. No fish is too big or barrel too small. In this 2006 'worst of EML' special Wells tests the patience of talkback radio hosts; reveals the horrifying 'truth' behind the demise of celebrity merino Shrek; plus there's sneak previews of the al-Qaeda blooper reels; and Anal Mana, our first indigenous porno flick (you have been warned: not suitable for children).
Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling documentary record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the filmmakers and marchers, Patu! is a landmark in New Zealand's film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were "a passionless people".
In July 1985 New Zealand Party leader Bob Jones and president Malcolm McDonald surprised many by announcing the nation's then-third most popular party was taking an 18 month recess. TVNZ went searching for comment, and after chartering a helicopter, found Jones fishing near Turangi. Jones was not amused; he infamously punched reporter Rod Vaughan, arguing later he would fight any charges in court, since the journalists had subjected him to intolerable harassment. When fined $1000, Jones asked the judge if he paid $2000, could he please do it again?
This show was possibly the most controversial edition of the Heartland series. After an obligatory historical preamble, explaining the state house roots of this working class dormitory suburb, Gary hits the rugby league club, local homes and Tupperware parties for some seriously extra-terrestrial encounters with Wainui-o-Martians. Chloe Reeves, with her squeaking voice, romantic dreams, and tiger slippers, proved to be unforgettable and became a national figure. In the second clip future All Black Piri Weepu holds a school road safety lollipop (around 6.40).
Like many other current affairs shows in the 70s, Tonight had a fairly brief existence, but it provided the forum for this infamous May 1976 battle of wills between journalist Simon Walker and Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Walker interrogates Muldoon about his assertions regarding the Soviet naval presence in the Pacific, and NZ vulnerability to Russian nuclear attack. Muldoon grows increasingly annoyed and bullish at being asked questions that are not on his sheet: "I will not have some smart alec interviewer changing the rules half way through."
In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing development on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. 506 days later police and army arrived en masse, to remove them. This documentary examines the rich and tragic history of Bastion Point/ Takaparawhau — including how questionable methods were used to gradually take the land from Māori, while basic amenities were withheld those remaining. The doco features extensive interviews with protest leader Joe Hawke, and footage from seminal documentary Bastion Point Day 507.
A documentary about motor-racer Kim Newcombe, who turned heads in the 70s on a König motorbike he developed and designed himself. He was killed racing in 1973 and posthumously came second in that year's World 500cc Grand Prix. The film mixes interviews and underdog triumph on the track scenes, with Super 8 footage of family life on the circuit, and poignant wife-of-maverick reflections from his widow Janeen. Love, Speed and Loss won best documentary at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards and Air NZ Screen Awards for best documentary, directing, and editing.
Yuppies, shoulder-pads, sports cars and méthode champenoise abound in this cult 'glamour soap'. Gloss was NZ's answer to US soap Dynasty, with the Carrington oil scions replaced by the wealthy Redferns and their Auckland magazine empire. The series epitomised 80s excess, and became something of a guilty viewing pleasure. In this Rosemary McLeod-penned pilot, a 'Remuera Revisited' plot unfolds as Brad Redfern's plans to have a quiet wedding get waylaid by ex-wife Maxine. Schoolgirl Chelsea wags, listens to her Sony Walkman and gets an unorthodox haircut.