By NZ On Screen team
Buckle up as we blast from the past Russ le Roq, gameshow host Paul Henry, tweenaged Kimbra and catwalk model Rach. Paul Casserly primes the collection: "pig out on these pre-fame Kiwis, gaze upon their fresh faces and remember the good times, before they were famous, before they became household names, movie stars, action figures and flavours of ice-cream."
On this mid-80s youth music show, a cherubic Russell Crowe performs with his auspiciously-named band, Roman Antix. The future Oscar-winning gladiator then masters and commands the interview couch as the quiffed 'Russ Le Roq' (so-named to avoid comparisons with his then-famous cricketing cousins).
A decade before she graces the top spot of the US singles chart, Kimbra Johnson is an effervescent 11-year-old investigating the mechanics of song recording in a series of segments for What Now?. At Rikki Morris' studio she lays down one of the first of what will be many vocal tracks to come.
A reporter heads into "the pit" (trading room) and chronicles the working life of an 80s 'forex' dealer: 25-year-old squash-playing accountancy graduate, John Key. The future Prime Minister is a now familiar grinning presence amongst the cowboys playing for Porsches in the heady pre-crash world.
The ‘B&H’ Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the late 70s through to the 90s. You can’t beat a trumpet they say, nor it seems can you beat soon-to-be-super model Rachel Hunter as a teenage vehicle for shoulder pads, geometric prints and scarily bright 80s colours.
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.
This episode of the TV stand-up comedy series marks an early screen appearance for Flight of the Conchords, performing versions of songs that will later appear in the first HBO series and on their debut album: funky 'Ladies of the World' and the homage to the Thin White Duke's space years: 'Bowie'.
This episode of the reality show from Kiwi Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan sees a gang of hardmen compete in old school challenges for NZ’s ‘toughest man’ title. Future London 2012 Olympic rowing champ Eric Murray is the young buck wrestling for the mantle with wily Mark ‘Horse’ Bourneville.
This late 80s game show is perhaps only noteworthy for the TV debut of its host: Paul Henry. Henry fronts proceedings with more groaning Granddad jokes than the PC-baiting cheek he'd later become notorious for, but early warning signs are there, dressed in a formidable 80s suit and white loafers.
Set in a rural hamlet just south of the Bombay Hills this early TV3 soap revolves around the Johnstone family, who have farmed there for 100 years. The cast includes a young Karl Urban — worlds away from Mega-City One and his title role as the gruff law enforcer in Dredd — and Simone Kessell.
It's Wellington in the 70s and Bob is in the midst of a midlife crisis in this early tele-drama. A bearded, bohemian Sam Neill features as the epitome of unfettered youth, six years before his breakthrough in Sleeping Dogs. Bob's square-peg mate Graham is future 'Mr Wilberforce' Bill Johnson.
'Trippin'' was the debut single and biggest hit for early 90s North Shore hair-metalers Push Push, powered by the lung-filled squall of future media personality Mikey Havoc. It spent six weeks atop the NZ singles chart, propelled in part by this effective performance video from Chris and Tim Mauger.
This selection of skits from the award-winning comedy series features fondly remembered Funny Business creations The Hoons, and Norman the Mormon. In the fourth clip wannabe Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless makes her TV debut in a perfume ad spoof that anticipates her future role in Spartacus.
In this kidult TV drama teenagers Peter, Nik and Hape find themselves trying to foil a thuggish gang of Marlborough Sounds tuatara smugglers. The 'urchins' are aided by a young Rebecca Gibney (the Packed to the Rafters star's first major TV role), while future broadcaster Robert Rakete plays Nik.
Years before she became westie matriarch Cheryl, Robyn Malcolm was Janice: a bright-eyed wannabe cop looking at a career firmly on the other side of the thin blue line. The first series of NZ TV’s first urban police drama was the screen debut for Malcolm — then not long out of drama school.
Since 1988 the Smokefreerockquest's nationwide talent competition has been a rite of passage for school-age musicians, offering the promise of (at least local) fame. The class of 2000 includes Nesian Mystik, Evermore — then the youngest band ever to compete — and future members of Die! Die! Die!
This is an early off-island screen outing for "the music comedy phenomenon" aka Flight of the Conchords. The duo head from Wellington to perform at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Dreams of fame confront Jonah Lomu (!), budget digs and anonymity, which they face with trademark droll resolve.
Twelve months after featuring on kids' TV show What Now? and two years before her first Rockquest success, this NZ Music Commission piece offers a tantalising glimpse of the US-chart topper as an assured 12-year-old: working with schools' music mentor Chris Diprose at her Hamilton intermediate.
Before he became the Emmy-winning host of Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan was a presenter on this TV2 after school show. Here he and Hine Elder interview singers Martin Phillipps, Mark Williams, Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics), rapper Redhead Kingpin and newsreaders Judy Bailey and Richard Long.
"I get around. I know everything. Except your name." Kevin Smith made his TV debut in this Gloss episode, playing smirking DJ and man-about-town Damien Vermeer; here he has his sights set on rich brat Chelsea (Lisa Chappell). Mikey Havoc also appears, as a member of his real-life band Push Push.
Director, writer and actor Taika Cohen (aka Waititi — Boy, Two Cars One Night) stands up and stands out in this episode of Pulp Comedy. His off the wall routine unleashes Gunter the German 'joke' teller — a buck-toothed, bewigged persona pitched somewhere between Andy Kaufman and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Aping The Monkees and preceding the Flight of the Conchords, Heroes followed the triumphs and pitfalls of a band trying to make it in the (mid-80s NZ) music biz. It was a first lead role for Jay Laga'aia (Star Wars), and early gigs for Michael Hurst and Margaret Umbers. Synth and leopard skin abound.
"He's a model and a style-guru and he certainly looks like one." Kerre Woodham describes a young Colin Mathura-Jeffree as he parades, topless, atop a giant flower, atop a cherry-picker, heading down Ponsonby Road, as part of the 1997 Hero Parade. How would older Colin have rated his Top Model form?
In this episode from the stand-up comedy TV series Rhys Darby (prior to his association with Flight of the Conchords) steals the show: a very limber tyrannosaurus rex impression animates a surreal tale about taking his grandfather to the movies that results in dinosaurs running amok in Auckland's Queen Street.
Phillip Schofield introduces Andrew Fagan and the Mockers at this benefit concert at the Christchurch Town Hall, later broadcast on his youth music show Shazam!. The band are well on their way to becoming pop stars, and Schofield would shortly return to the UK for presenting and pantomime stardom.
Shy teenager Ricky and extrovert misfit Telly, slip out into the night and commandeer Ricky's father's fishing boat in this Cannes-selected short. Tilly was an early role for future Underbelly star and Logie TV Award-winner Chelsie Preston Crayford, for which she won a Best Actress NZ Film Award.
One Network News newsreader Simon Dallow cut his straps on TV2's late night news show. Here he watches US boy band All-4-One perform in an Auckland record store and quizzes them about the trappings of fame. Meanwhile, cheeky Marcus Lush channels Country Calendar visiting an emu farm near Katikati.
Before getting Toxic with Britney or coveting Kirsty on Shortland Street, Martin Henderson debuted as a boy in a gang of plucky teens who are plunged into a world of spies, jewel thieves and magicians. Hamish McFarlane (fresh from The Navigator) also stars in the Margaret Mahy-penned drama.
Ice TV launched the careers of hosts Jon Bridges, Nathan Rarere and Petra Bagust. Irreverent, fast-paced, and imbued with a (mostly) family friendly sense of fun, the youth show took in skits, music, satire, gags and interviews, and a sign-off where L&P bottles were subjected to various stresses.
Yuppies, shoulder-pads, sports cars and methode champenoise abound in this cult 80s "glitter-soap"; Gloss was NZ's answer to US soap Dynasty. In this first episode schoolgirl Chelsea (played by future McLeod's Daughter Lisa Chappell) wags, listens to her Sony Walkman and gets an unorthodox haircut.
Writer Maurice Gee's experiences growing up in West Auckland during World War II were the basis for this home front drama. Twelve-year-old Rex Pascoe (Milan Borich — future singer in the band Pluto) is a war-obsessed schoolboy affected by the not-always-welcome presence of Yank soldiers on NZ soil.
It's the semi-final in this stand-up comedy talent quest presented by Jeremy and Nigel Corbett. Judges Ian Harcourt, Theresa Healey and Strawpeople's Mark Tierney preside over a line-up that includes a composed Michele A'Court and a hirsute Jon Bridges, away laughing early in their comedy careers.
This controversial teen pregnancy drama can claim to have effected social change, stirring up public debate about the DPB for single Mothers. Keep an eye out for a young Paul Holmes as a moustached wannabe lothario, and a fleeting appearance (her screen debut) by nine-year-old Jennifer Ward-Lealand.
The video for Blam Blam Blam's second hit from 1981 sees clowns, magicians, fire-eaters and trick cyclists join the band, while actors play out the saga of 'Don't Fight It, Marsha'. The young Harry Sinclair-directed troupe of actors included Phillip Gordon, Michael Hurst, Hester Joyce and Donogh Rees.
On a 2001 tour of his homeland, Neil Finn challenged his perfectionist instincts by playing with a changing local line-up at each gig. Amidst the performers offered a chance to "glisten like a pearl" was teenage guitarist-singer Jon (four years away from the Australian Top 20 with band Evermore).
This Koha episode looks at the milestone Te Maori exhibition of Māori art which opened up a world of Māori taonga to international audiences. The episode features the powhiri at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, with future Māori Party co-leader Pita Sharples leading a kapa haka performance.
TVNZ journalist (and future Communicado founder) Neil Roberts does an ethnomusicologist turn in this segment on NZ's fledgling punk scene. Much of the focus is on Auckland but Doomed lead singer Johnny Abort (aka future Radio with Pictures TV presenter Dick Driver) flies the flag for the south.
Jane Campion's tale of colonial sexual emancipation in the mud and bush won wide acclaim and a Palme d'Or. It also announced the talents of future True Blood star Anna Paquin. The 11-year-old's sweetly gasping Oscar acceptance speech (for her role as a settler's daughter) moved viewers worldwide.
Rhapsodic reviews greeted Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson's vision of friendship, creativity and matricide, and the lead performances of teen newbies Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet. Winslet’s Hollywood career sunk big time, and Lynskey went on to be core cast on hit US TV comedy Two and a Half Men.
This Niki Caro-directed tale of young East Coast Māori girl Pai — who challenges tradition and embraces the past in order to find the strength to lead her people forward — found global success. And scored an Oscar nomination for Keisha Castle-Hughes, for her stirring screen debut in the title role.
Bruno Lawrence’s brooding lead turn in this Kiwi cinema classic reputedly made Jack Nicholson’s envious. Also much praised was the chemistry between Bruno and young Greer Robson (as his estranged daughter). Robson’s screen debut was followed by Starlight Hotel and as an adult, Shortland Street.
Paul Casserly slurps up the celeb cornucopia: "It's hard to believe that famous people haven’t always been famous". Read more ›
Tem Morrison in Rangi’s Catch is being fished up. Who else’s pre-fame glory could be hauled from the archives? Email us ›
For more BTWF bewilderment check out young Helen Clark, Jim Hickey as a Gloss cop, Tana Umaga as an aspiring Kiwi, and more ›
NZ ON SCREEN 2015
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