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By NZ On Screen team
5th January 2015



 NZ On Screen team

By NZ On Screen team


The City of Sails onscreen

From the icons (Sky Tower, Otara Market, Rangitoto, The Bridge), celebs, clans (the Wests, the Redferns) and stereotypes (Jafas), to the streets (Queen St, K Road), and Super City suburbs (Ferndale, Mt Raskill, Morningside), this collection celebrates Auckland onscreen. Reel through the moods and the multicultural, metro, muggy charms of New Zealand’s largest city.


Super City cuts

 How Bizarre

This promo for Pauly Fuemana's smash hit was shown on US networks 14,986 times in 1997 and 1998 when 'How Bizarre' went global and its medley became an ear worm. The video wasn’t filmed in Otara, but was shot on a soundstage in Ponsonby and at Ellerslie Racecourse for a budget of $7,000.

 This Auckland

This impressionistic, late 60s NFU survey traces Auckland from volcanic origins to a population of half a million people. Jazz and a wry script score time honoured Queen City imagery; and an unpredictable climate given to humidity and sudden downpours is apt for a city of "design and disorder".

 Real Lives - Ponsonby Road

This 80s TVNZ doco looks at Ponsonby through the eyes of some of its oldest identities. Gluepot tavern, Bhana Bros, op shops, drop-in centres and an smorgasbord of eateries feature (including a young Prego), as the suburb gentrifies from working class domain to upmarket retail and residential area.


This animated TV comedy chronicled five kids growing up in the 21st Century in one of Auckland's grungier suburbs. Devised by the team behind the Naked Samoans theatre show, its un-PC wit and Simpsons-esque celeb cameos saw it scoop awards and screen on TV3 for five series. "Morningside for life!"

 Shortland Street

Shortland Street hospital and Ferndale may not show up on any maps but when NZ’s longest running serial drama screens, the iconic Sky Tower and suburban wide-shots set the Auckland scene. Dr Ropata may not be in Guatemala now, but he’s definitely somewhere in the metropolitan South Pacific!

 No. 2

Nana Maria, the matriarch of an Auckland Fijian family, feels that the heart has gone out of her clan, and finds her hopes for a succession feast going seriously awry. Toa Fraser’s love letter to a Mt Roskill way of life was his debut feature, and the winner of the audience award at Sundance 2006.

 Gloss - Episode One

Yuppies, shoulder-pads, sports cars and methode champenoise abound in New Zealand's answer to US soap Dynasty, with the Carrington oil scions replaced by Remuera’s Redferns and their Auckland magazine empire. The cult series epitomised 80s excess and became a guilty viewing pleasure.

 Outrageous Fortune - Episode One

This first episode of the beloved and critically acclaimed drama series sees Cheryl decide it's time for her and her children to get out of the "family business" after hubbie Wolf goes to prison. So began a screen dynasty and a warts and all paean to Auckland’s previously derided 'Westie' culture.

 The End of the Golden Weather

Set on a sun-drenched pohutukawa-shaded Takapuna beach over a summer in 1935, Ian Mune’s acclaimed feature chronicles the friendship between a teenage boy and the wild-limbed Firpo, dreamer and social outcast. Mune spent more than 15 years “massaging” Bruce Mason's classic solo play into film.

 Dominion Road

Don McGlashan's imagined back story for a man he watched from a bus window one day — a resident of the fabled "half way house, half way down Dominion Road" — is a beloved redemption tale set on one of Auckland's busiest arterial routes. Fane Flaws and Leon Narbey shared lens duty on the promo.

 Once Were Warriors

A booster’s view of Auckland this is not. Lee Tamahori's visceral, hard hitting depiction of gang and domestic violence amidst an urban Māori whānau opened the eyes of cinema goers to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life; and provided defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen.

 Radio with Pictures - North Island Music

Roving reporter Simon Morris’ special report for the 80s rock show finds Auckland on the cusp of the club boom and live music is waning. Russ le Roq (aka Russell Crowe) flies the flag for the kids, Colin Hogg is unmoved, and a fresh faced Graeme Humphreys (aka Graeme Hill) fronts the Able Tasmans.


Sam Peacocke's confronting dramatic debut re-imagines the events that took place around the robbery of a Manurewa liquor store in 2008, in which owner Navtej Singh was tragically murdered. The kaleidoscopic perspective on colliding South Auckland lives won a Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Festival.


Staunch follows Ariana (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell), a young Māori woman battling assault charges after events escalate following a police raid on her home. The South Auckland-set TV3 drama was inspired by fact; co-written by Keith Hunter and Toa Fraser, it won multiple gongs at the 2002 NZ TV Awards.


This classic short is a slice of life amongst the pedestrians of Karangahape — K — Road, shot in an increasingly hilarious baton relay-style narrative. Directed by Bill Toepfer the film stars The Front Lawn duo of Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan, playing all the roles in a range of disguises.

 Queen Street

Three friends cruise inner-city 80s Auckland in a 1946 Ford pickup, as they cope — a la American Graffiti — with the changing dynamic of their friendship and the encroaching adult world. Queen Street is a fascinating look at downtown Auckland and Kiwi street culture in the pre-boyracer era.

 Auckland City Centenary – Last, Loneliest, Loveliest

In May 1871 Auckland became a city. One hundred years later Hamish Keith muses on how Auckland developed and where it's going. Keith notes volcanoes, tribal war, pioneers, "booze and butter" booms, bridges, PI influence, cars and suburbia; and the city’s "marching to its own drum" spirit.

 Queen City Rocker

There's panic on the streets as tearaway Ska (Matthew Hunter) comes to terms with love and death in Auckland's 80s urban underworld. In this teen spirit-infused excerpt from the Bruce Morrison-directed film, street fighting Ska saves rich girl Stacy (Kim Willoughby), and meets her classy parents.

 Tala Pasifika - Brown Sugar

This edition of the pioneering Pacific Island short film series sees aspiring singer Tiuila spar with wannabe actor Samuelu in a music shop. When Tiuila's vocal group — relaxed, confident and proud of their South Auckland upbringing — play to a packed club in the city bragging rights are at stake.

 Johnstone's Journey - Settling for Suburbia

In this fifth episode from his personal examination of New Zealand at the end of the 70s, Ian Johnstone explores the new suburb of Massey in West Auckland. For Johnstone, in his wry dissection of the urban sprawl, Massey is an "infestation of houses" bafflingly devoid of community amenities.

 Auckland Tonight

One of the great rock'n'roll songs about Auckland is the work of a Christchurch band. The Androidss' claim to fame extols the virtues of a night on the town, and the TVNZ video careers around rain soaked streets, offering telling glimpses of The Androidss' bête noir: the central police station.

 Terry and the Gunrunners

Beloved by Kiwi kids who grew up in the 80s, this kidult series pits skateboarding 12-year-old Terry Teo against a gang of gunrunners. Based on a 1982 graphic novel by Stephen Ballantyne and Bob Kerr, a comic book Auckland landscape is pocked with arcade game animations, Billy T and an ex-Goon.

 New Streets - South Auckland, Two Cities

Reporter Neil Roberts ventures into South Auckland in this 1982 doco and finds two booming but very different communities: Otara and Mangere with their influx of Māori and Pacific Island workers; and to the east, Howick and Pakuranga with their more upwardly mobile and solipsist Pākehā citizens.

 Under the Mountain

This Maurice Gee-adaptation follows the adventures of redheaded twins with psychic powers — Rachel and Theo — as they battle the alien Wilberforces. The classic sci-fi TV series left its slimy imprint on a generation of NZ kids, haunted by the giant slugs slithering underneath Rangitoto.


Richard Riddiford's comedic thriller plays out in pre-crash 80s Auckland with the CBD skyline changing daily, brick-sized phones, and the share market on everyone's lips; and a telephone operator (Mike Mizrahi) and a waitress/dominatrix (Lucy Sheehan) are ensnared in a shadowy corporate plot.

 Sione's Wedding

This breakthrough PI-Kiwi comedy followed four 30-something guys who must each find a girlfriend before their best friend Sione's wedding. Through the efforts of the bumbling blokes to get the girl(s) the hit film brought to life the colour and humour of Auckland’s urban Samoan community.

 Topless Women Talk about Their Lives (Series)

Harry Sinclair's feature film Topless Women Talk about Their Lives evolved out of his cult late night, low budget, TV3 micro-series about the lives, loves and travails of a group of 20-something Aucklanders. Set to a 90s Flying Nun soundtrack, the cast included Danielle Cormack and Joel Tobeck.

 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.

 Top Half - Excerpts

TVNZ's Top Half brought local news to Auckland and the upper North Island in the 80s. These excerpts cover: sleaze and multiculture on K Road, fretting over Ponsonby development, David Bowie at Western Springs, orangutan birth; and Dylan Taite finds The Warratahs busking on Ponsonby Road.

 You Gotta Know

Black, white and red and youthful exuberance abound in this early music video from Supergroove — "you gotta know to understand". A funk-heavy live show is intercut with scenes of the band clowning around at the Otara Market, on a Three Kings volcano, and doing a drive-by in an open-top VW.

 Pictorial Parade No. 98 - Expanding Auckland

It’s possible that Auckland’s early 60s urban growth has never seemed bigger, brighter or bolder than it does in this breathless NFU newsreel. As the city encroaches further into the countryside, suburbs blossom and improved roads, motorways and the new harbour bridge keep the citizenry moving.

 In the Neighbourhood

Over a decade before Greg Semu was offered a residency at Quai Branly museum in Paris, the artist directed this music video for Sisters Underground. Set on the Mangere Bridge and in the South Auckland neighbourhood, his clip exudes a warmth that seems to belie its often dilapidated setting.

 The Bridge

Presented by veteran newsreader Richard Long, this documentary looks at the history of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, focusing on some of the many and varied events which have happened on the span, from AJ Hackett's first bungy jump off of it, to the Dame Whina Cooper-led Māori land march.

 The Quiet Earth

In director Geoff Murphy's cult sci-fi feature scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) awakes to find himself the only living being left in Auckland … and on earth. Here he lives out his fantasies, which include Eden Park in a nightie, before the implications of being 'man alone' sink in.

 Journeys in National Parks: Hauraki Gulf

This episode of the Peter Hayden-presented series looks at the national park closest to our largest city and features stories of life on the gulf's islands. A highlight is the transfer of the rare tieke (saddleback) to Little Barrier Island "with Auckland's lights twinkling in the background".

 The Greatest Run on Earth

This award-winner documents the Round the Bays waterfront run. In 1980 jogging was booming, with a band of Kiwi Olympic champs inspiring the way. Here, participants run and reflect, from a blind runner, to children and an army squad. Slo-mo sweat, sinew and samba shots frame the 70,000 runners.


Writer and adopted Cantabrian Joe Bennett explores the north/south divide in this documentary (where that dividing line is the Bombay Hills). The regional prejudice and bon mots pour forth as he traverses the country probing attitudes to the latte-drinking SUV driving denizens of the City of Sails.

 Auckland City of Sunlight

This NFU-made tourism promo finds post-war Auckland basking in sunshine. Trams and flying boats are a reminder of a by-gone era while a rug factory is a colourful if unexpected inclusion. Last stop is a visit to Kawau Island where water skiing, sports and bush walks are the order of the day.

 Otara Market

Presented by writer and comedian Oscar Kightley and directed by Lisa Taouma, this doco tells the stories of the multi-cultural Polynesian, Asian, Indian and Pākehā Kiwi stall-holders and patrons at one of the country's best known community institutions — and NZ's biggest weekly outdoor market.

 Street Legal

Crime show Street Legal ran for four seasons. It centred around a struggling Auckland law firm, home base for unorthodox lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia), and sometime girlfriend Joni Collins (Kathleen Kennard). This episode sees Silesi facing off against Sergeant Kees Van Dam (Charles Mesure).

 The Mighty Civic

The Mighty Civic is a colourful celebration of Auckland's grandest old movie palace, made at a time when the building's future was under threat. Peter Wells' film galvanised public support, and ultimately the building was saved and refurbished to remain the jewel of Queen Street's cinema district.

 Pasifika 2005

Presented by Samoan hip hop artist King Kapisi and transgender rock queen Ramon Te Wake, Pasifika 2005 documents the biggest Polynesian festival in the world (attracting more than 140,000 people to Western Springs). The free one-day Auckland festival has celebrated Pacific Island culture since 1992.

 City Life - Episode One

Mid-90s drama series City Life made a direct appeal to New Zealand's Gen X apartment-dwelling demographic. Following the lives of a tight-knit group of friends, and featuring racy shots of Auckland's K Road and nightlife set to contemporary pop music, City Life was NZ's attempt at Melrose Place.

 Islands of the Gulf - Waiheke

In this episode from NZ TV's first local documentary series, pioneering producer Shirley Maddock surveys the life of the Hauraki Gulf island of Waiheke. A time consuming boat trip has kept the island as the preserve of holidaymakers and retirees, but with faster transport on its way Auckland is reeling it in.

 Hero Parade

Marching girls and boys, Camp Mother and Camp Leader, even synchronised lawnmowers, dance down Auckland's Ponsonby Road in this celebration of gay pride. The theme was Age of Aquarius (fitting given the heavy rain) and despite funding controversy, the 70-float parade attracted 300,000 spectators.

 Town and Around: Auckland Highlights

Here the northern edition of magazine show Town and Around picks highlights for 1969, featuring 'Kiwi gent' Barry Crump, sharp-shooting country singer Tex Morton, axeman Sonny Bolstad, and Pavlova Paradise author Austin Mitchell, plus garden gnomes and a carrot used as a musical instrument.

 Dawn Raids

This doco chronicles a shameful passage in NZ race relations: the controversial mid-70s raids on the homes of alleged Pacific Island overstayers. Damon Fepulea'i examines the origins and practice of, and resistance to, a policy which has had a long term impact on the Pacific Island community.

 Pictorial Parade No. 131 - Top o' the Town Race

This excerpt from a 1962 NFU film features reigning Olympic 800m champion Peter Snell participating in a charity road race on Auckland streets; he delights the crowds down a wet Karangahape Road at the end of Auckland's Top o' the Town course. Other roadsters include Bill Baillie and Barry Magee.

 Summer in the Winter

This simple but evocative music video to the hit 1996 single was shot on the streets of South Auckland, in a mix of both black and white and colour. The videoscapes are industrial and gritty and provide a fitting backdrop to this tale of post-migration PI life in Aotearoa.

 FTC Farmers' Santa Parade

The Farmers' Santa Parade is an iconic Auckland event. Here, New Zealand's biggest Christmas Parade is seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Sally. In the 52nd annual parade the crowds pack Auckland's CBD to experience the excitement, and the child pleasing/petrifying big red man himself.

 Land of a Thousand Lovers

When, in 1976, the Crown announced plans to sell off disputed land at Bastion Point, Joe Hawke led a 507 day-long occupation, until they were forcibly removed by police and soldiers. This contemporary current affairs piece examines some of the issues behind the protest that polarised a nation.

 Savage Honeymoon

Director Mark Beesley heads west in his feature debut, predating his Outrageous Fortune excursions across the bogan frontier. The film is a snapshot of a couple worried their kids may not be as lucky as them, and a working class family who like drinking, living by their own rules, and leather pants.

 Trouble Is My Business

Juliette Veber's documentary follows Gary Peach, a teacher in charge of discipline at South Auckland's Aorere College. "Peachy" has unorthodox methods but his commitment to the mainly Māori and Pacific Island kids makes for a: "very moving report from education's frontline … a compelling watch" (NZ Herald).

 Maggie's Garden Show - Ellerslie Flower Show Special

An annual highlight of this long-running gardening series was the Ellerslie Flower Show. For the 2000 special Maggie Barry and the team check out the outdoor section, floral design, garden design and garden makeover marquees, and ‘bug man’ Ruud Kleinpaste raves about an epic Gondwanaland model.

 Grammar Boys

Auckland Grammar is a local landmark, with a reputation for academic and sporting excellence. This doco surveys the "ways of Grammar": streaming, the prefect system, and sport (rowing trials and the traditional 1st XV match against King's are featured), and touches on the controversial 'zone'.

 Praise Be - Series 11, Episode 13

This Graeme Johnson-hosted episode of the long-running religious programme focuses on Auckland's Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Built on land bought by Bishop Selwyn in 1859, the completed cathedral reflects the undulating landscape of Auckland, combining Gothic and Polynesian elements.

 1950 British Empire Games

Now called the Commonwealth Games, the 1950 British Empire Games were held in Auckland. This footage starts with teams arriving on flying boats, DC-3s and cruise ships and features the opening at Eden Park and several events. Future Olympic champ Yvette Williams wins the 'broad jump' (clip four).

 Ellerslie - Episode One

In this observed reality show a TV crew follows the new CEO of NZ's oldest racing club as he attempts to face up to aging membership and facilities. He has high hopes 'Whips and Spurs' – race meetings with bands and DJs – will start attracting the under-35s, but the weather forecast isn’t good.

 New Zealand Grand Prix

A stylish title sequence sets the tone for this NFU short on motor racing in the early 60s. It features the New Zealand International Grand Prix in Auckland. Classic summer shots of the world's top drivers relaxing on Mission Bay beach include Arnold Glass trying to teach Bruce McLaren to waterski.

Finding Auckland

Finding Auckland

Toa Fraser (No. 2) muses on the myths and realities of the “beautiful, dark, scary, romantic” place that is his hometown. Read more ›

Te Ara entry on Tāmaki-makau-rau

Te Ara entry on Tāmaki-makau-rau

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand surveys the history, cultures and geography of the region where one in three Kiwis live. Read more ›

Something missing?

Something missing?

We've got everything from Queen Street to Queen City Rockers to ... queens (Hero Parade). What have we missed? Email us ›