Before They Were Famous

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."

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Shazam! - 26 Nov 1985 (feat. Russell Crowe)

Television, 1985 (Excerpts)

On this mid-80s youth music show, a fresh faced Russell Crowe is the star turn in his early persona as Russ le Roq (the name change to avoid comparisons with his famous cricketing cousins Martin and Jeff). With a hint of an Elvis sneer, Crowe performs 'What's The Difference' with his band Roman Antix, and is interviewed by presenter Phillipa Dann. Lounge jazz act Wentworth Brewster & Co and Hamilton funk rockers Echoes also feature; and Pat and Margaret Urlich from Peking Man talk about their latest single 'Room That Echoes' and its distinctive video.

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What Now? - Kimbra excerpt

Television, 2001 (Excerpts)

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. 

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Close Up - Big Dealers (feat. John Key)

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

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".

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Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards 1986

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

The Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the mid 60s to the 90s. The Wellington show was organised by model agent Maysie Bestall-Cohen from 1982, and from 1984 TVNZ broadcast the 'B&H' live from the Michael Fowler Centre. Bestall-Cohen and Bob Parker host this 1986 GOFTA award-winner. Former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes is a guest presenter, and the line-up of models includes a teenage Rachel Hunter and future TV presenter Hilary Timmins. Padded shoulders, geometric prints and garish colours date stamp the era.    

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Heartland - Wainuiomata

Television, 1994 (Excerpts)

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).

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Pulp Comedy - Series Five, Episode Two (Flight of the Conchords)

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the stand-up comedy TV marks an early screen appearance for Flight of the Conchords. Jemaine and Bret are in parodic mode with versions of songs that will later appear in the first HBO series and on their debut album. Funky 'Ladies of the World' goes beyond Julio Iglesias, while 'Bowie' is their homage to the Thin White Duke's space years (plus telescopic nipple transmissions). Mike King hosts the show, John Glass reflects on bachelorhood and kissing etiquette, and Chris Brain manages to reference bikers, the Wiggles, Bill Gates and Star Wars.

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No Opportunity Wasted - Tough Guy (Episode)

Television, 2006 (Full Length Episode)

No Opportunity Wasted is a reality show where Phil Keoghan (Amazing Race), ambushes contestants and bids them overcome a challenge with limited time (three days) and resources. This episode ditches the self-help aspect and ups the machismo by having a freezing worker, southern shepherd, champion rower, trans-Atlantic race winner, Kiwi league legend, and ex-Mr New Zealand compete in old school elimination challenges for NZ's 'toughest man' title. Future Olympic champ Eric Murray is the young buck wrestling for the hardman mantle with wily Mark 'Horse' Bourneville.

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Every Second Counts - 8 October 1987

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This late 80s game show features couples attempting to build time credits by answering a series of questions. The prices include household appliances and a holiday to “exotic Tahiti”. Hosted by Paul Henry — in his TV debut — Every Second's’ gentle pace is decades removed from the accelerating insistency of Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Weakest Link. Henry fronts with more groaning Granddad jokes than the PC-baiting cheek he’d later become famous for, but early warning signs are there, disguised in a formidable 80s suit and white loafers.

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Homeward Bound - First Episode

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

A family reunion is the perfect vehicle to introduce the characters of this early TV3 soap. Set in a rural hamlet just south of the Bombay Hills, it revolves around the Johnstone family who have farmed the area for 100 years; but times are changing and, following the market crash, so are their fortunes. Beneath the surface of reunion civilities lurks a marriage in tatters, a prodigal son returned, a family inheritance spat and a mystery teenager (Simone Kessell) confusing the bloodlines. The cast included Liddy Holloway, Peter Elliott and a young Karl Urban.

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The City of No

Television, 1971 (Full Length)

It's Wellington in the 70s and Bob (Jeremy Stephens) is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Square-peg Graham (Bill Johnson, of future 'Mr Wilberforce' fame) tries to convince Bob to quit his bohemian lifestyle (and his lover/muse Carol) and go back to his wife Jean. But is Graham really acting in his friend's best interest? Featuring a young Sam Neill as the epitome of handsome, unfettered youth (flared jeans, bushy beard) this early, well-received tele-drama was one of several produced by NZBC that tackled 'difficult' contemporary issues.

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Trippin'

Push Push, Music Video, 1991

'Trippin'' was the debut single and biggest hit for these early 90s North Shore rockers who were powered by the lung-filled squall of future media personality Mikey Havoc. It spent six weeks on top of the NZ singles chart, propelled in part by this highly effective performance video from Chris and Tim Mauger. The clip provides ample testimony to the power of guitars, hair, t-shirts, that voice and a healthy dose of strobe lighting. It's worth noting that, even at this formative stage of his career, Mr Havoc isn't exactly shy of a camera.

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Funny Business - Excerpts

Television, 1988 (Excerpts)

A selection of sketches from this award-winning skit based comedy series featuring Willy de Witt, Ian Harcourt, Peter Murphy and Dean Butler (with occasional animation by Chris Knox). The Hoons display their all of their charm and tact at the beach — but cruising for action (in a car truly worthy of them) results in a heated confrontation with one of their rivals. The classic Norman the Mormon also features, alternative Dunedin bands of the 1980s are lampooned and Lucy Lawless makes her TV debut in an ad spoof that anticipates her future role in Spartacus.

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Sea Urchins - Series Three, Episode Five

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

For the third series of this TVNZ kidult drama, the location moved from the Hauraki Gulf to the Marlborough Sounds, where there's also plenty of water for floatplane and speedboat thrills (and an explosion). Brothers Peter, Nik and Hape — the "sea urchins" — attempt to foil a thuggish gang of tuatara and kākāriki smugglers, led by cravat-wearing evil mastermind, Carl. The urchins are aided on the ground and in the air by a young Rebecca Gibney (the Packed to the Rafter's star's first major TV role), while future broadcaster and Wiggle Robert Rakete plays Nik.

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Shark in the Park - Lamb to the Slaughter

Television, 1989 (Full Length Episode)

The role of women in a traditionally male dominated profession is writ large in the third episode (penned by Norelle Scott and directed by Ginette McDonald) from the first series of NZ TV's first urban police drama. A new addition to the team, Wally (Joanna Briant) faces a baptism of fire from her colleagues — and a rough ride on the streets of inner city Wellington as a drunken couple's antics escalate into major problems for the thin blue line. Robyn Malcolm features in her first screen role and Mark Wright provides some late 80s colour as an inebriated yuppie.

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Pepsismokefree Rockquest 2000

Television, 2000 (Full Length)

Since 1988 the Smokefreerockquest's nationwide talent competition has been a rite of passage for school-age musicians, offering substantial cash prizes and the promise of a short-cut to global (or at least local) fame. In this TV special Hugh Sundae meets the class of 2000, including Nesian Mystik, Evermore (then the youngest band ever to compete at the finals) and future members of Die! Die! Die! in Dunedin art-rockers Carriage H. True to the period, there's also plenty of squeaky nu-metal riffs and liberally-applied Dax Wax.

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The Living Room - Series One (Flight of the Conchords)

Television, 2002 (Excerpts)

This is an early screen showing for "music comedy phenomenon" Flight of the Conchords. The excerpts from arts show The Living Room follow Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement from Wellington to performances at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Dreams of fame come face to face with budget digs, Jonah Lomu and anonymity, which the duo face with their droll resolve. Larry Pritchard (Taika Waititi) takes on the role of manager, pre Rhys Darby. The next year the Conchords were nominated for a Perrier Award, en route to an HBO TV series and cult stardom.

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Kimbra - Berkley Middle School

Television, 2002 (Excerpts)

International chart topper Kimbra Johnson did a lot of musical growing up in public. Twelve months after featuring on kids' TV show What Now?, and two years before her first Rockquestsuccess, this NZ Music Commission piece offers a tantalising glimpse of her as a remarkably unselfconscious 12 year old working with schools' music mentor Chris Diprose at her Hamilton intermediate. She's already very comfortable with the recording process and considerably more advanced in her music making than some off-camera classmates who provide an unseen Greek chorus.

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3:45 LIVE! - Interview Compilation

Television, 1990 (Excerpts)

3:45 LIVE! was an afternoon links programme for kids that screened on TV2. Before he became world-famous as host of Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan was a presenter on the show in tandem with Hine Elder. In excerpts here, the pair interview Martin Phillipps of The Chills; expat singer Mark Williams; and the cast of Badjelly and the Witch. International stars on the couch include Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics), and rap singer Redhead Kingpin, who is off-the-wall. Phil and Hine also take off Judy Bailey and Richard Long before interviewing the newsreaders themselves. 

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Gloss - Kevin Smith's TV debut

Television, 1989 (Excerpts)

"I get around. I know everything. Except your name." Kevin Smith made his television debut (in a speaking part) on this episode from the third series of Gloss, playing smirking DJ and man-about-town Damien Vermeer. Keen to rise above his working class origins, the character sets his sights on rich brat Chelsea Redfern within moments of meeting her. Smith left work at Christchurch's Court theatre for the role, when the decision was made to up the show's male quotient. Mikey Havoc also appears in this scene, as a member of his real-life band Push Push.

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Pulp Comedy - Series Seven, Episode Three (Taika Waititi)

Television, 2003 (Full Length Episode)

Director, writer and actor Taika Cohen (aka Waititi) features in this episode of the stand-up comedy TV series with an off the wall performance as Gunter the German "joke" teller — a buck-toothed, bewigged persona pitched somewhere between Andy Kaufman and Sacha Baron Cohen. Fiona MacKinnon is in more conventional territory recounting her graduation and 21st, and musing about moving suburbs in Wellington. While Andrew Clay has tattoos and one night stands on his mind, and a concern that the early years of the 21st century are lacking in poetry.

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Heroes - First Episode

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

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 major role for Jay Laga’aia (Star Wars), and early lead gigs for Michael Hurst, and Margaret Umbers. In this first episode the band gets together as Dave (Hurst) ditches his covers band, flunks a TV audition, and hooks up opportunist flatmate Ron (Laga’aia), synth player Peter (John Gibson, who co-wrote the series music) and bass player Maxine (Umbers). Synth and leopard skin abound.

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1998 Hero Parade

Television, 1998 (Full Length)

Marching girls and boys, Camp Mother and Camp Leader and synchronised lawnmowers dance down Auckland’s Ponsonby Road in a celebration of gay pride. The theme of this edition of the (nearly) annual 90s street parade was Age of Aquarius, fitting given the heavy rain. The parade went ahead thanks to sponsorship from Metro magazine, after controversy when the City Promotions Committee declined the request for funding. The parade attracted 70 floats, and up to 200,000 spectators. Among those watching are Julian Clary and Shona Laing, who is one of the judges.

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Pulp Comedy - Series Five, Episode Three (Rhys Darby)

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

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. Elsewhere, Mike Loder's conclusion that no disgrace could lead to Tiger Woods losing his sponsorship deals, and Justine Smith's opinion that her hometown of Christchurch is rather lacking in excitement may not have quite stood the test of time.  

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Shazam! - Mockers Special

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

Phillip Schofield introduces the Mockers at this benefit concert at the Christchurch Town Hall which is later broadcast on his youth music show Shazam!. Their first album has just gone straight into the Top 10 and the band are well on their way to becoming pop stars, with Andrew Fagan, resplendent in red frock coat and bare chest, very much out front as one of New Zealand music's great showmen. Six songs are featured including the hits 'Woke Up Today', 'My Girl Thinks She's Cleopatra', 'Alvison Park' and the title track of their album 'Swear It's True'.

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Fog

Short Film, 2007 (Full Length)

Ricky is shy and has an overbearing father. He and Telly, an extrovert misfit, slip out into the night and commandeer Ricky's father's fishing boat. They cast off and head out into the freedom of the fog. Peter Salmon's Fog highlights oppression, boredom and sex: the cultural trinity of the New Zealand small town. Shot in Ngawi, an isolated fishing village on the Wairarapa coastline, the crush of this world is palpable. Fog was selected for Critics' Week at Cannes; it also scored Chelsie Preston Crayford a gong for Best Actor in a Short Film at the NZ Film Awards.

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Newsnight - Series One, Episode 171

Television, 1994 (Excerpts)

In these excerpts from TV2's late night news show, Simon Dallow watches new American boy band All-4-One perform in an Auckland record store and interviews them about the trappings of fame. Meanwhile, Marcus Lush channels Country Calendar as he investigates a novel new agri-business venture: an emu and ostrich farm near Katikati (although it's unlikely his colleagues on TVNZ's venerable rural show ever gave their watches to animals to play with). Lush's verdict? The world's biggest living birds ("because we killed the moa") are "more fun than sheep".

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Strangers - Episode One

Television, 1989 (Full Length Episode)

This kidult thriller features Martin Henderson (in his screen debut) and Hamish McFarlane (fresh from The Navigator) with a script by Margaret Mahy. Brothers and sisters Emma and Zane, and Kelsey and Morgan are friends, with their own clubhouse and secret society. Their lives change when Zane and Emma witness a jeweller’s shop robbery, and Morgan and Kelsey see two men escape their crashed car after a police chase. The friends find themselves plunged into a world of intrigue, questionable Special Branch agents and a mysterious fire eater and magician.

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Ice TV - Best of

Television, 1998 (Full Length Episode)

Ice TV was a popular 90s TV3 youth show hosted by Jon Bridges, Nathan Rarere and Petra Bagust. This 1998 'best of' sees a 20/20 satire (a world's biggest bonsai trees scam); Petra meets Meatloaf, Jon meets US brothers boy band Hanson, visits a 'storm-namer', and they both go on Outward Bound; Nathan road tests Elvis's diet (peanut butter and bacon in bread, deep fried); and the trio go to the zoo and gym to discover why humans are the "sexiest primates alive". Includes the show's trademark sign-off where L&P bottles were subjected to various stresses.

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Gloss - First Episode

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

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. 

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The Champion - Yankee Soldier

Television, 1989 (Full Length Episode)

Writer Maurice Gee’s experiences growing up in West Auckland during World War II were the basis for this home front drama expertly realised by the producer/director team of Ginette McDonald and Peter Sharp. Twelve-year-old Rex Pascoe (Milan Borich — future singer in the band Pluto) is a war-obsessed schoolboy worried about his father’s black-market dealings. Meanwhile, American soldiers are making their presence felt but not all of their attitudes are welcome. The locals’ prejudices are about to be tested by the arrival of a GI to stay with Rex’s family.

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A Bit After Ten - Series One, Episode 11

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

It's the first semi-final in the first series of this stand-up comedy talent quest presented by Jeremy and Nigel Corbett (who assert their edgy, early 90s credentials with a running gag about Nirvana). Judges Ian Harcourt, Theresa Healey and Strawpeople's Mark Tierney preside over a line-up comprising a very composed Michele A'Court, mildcore rappers Hip Hips, The Back Garden, Jo Randerson (in angry-ish feminist mode), a particularly hirsute Jon Bridges and eventual winner Late Night Mike (with Harcourt generating as many laughs as the contestants).

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Gone up North for a While

Television, 1972 (Full Length)

After a young woman falls pregnant, she decides to go against the tide of advice from her family and unsympathetic welfare authorities by keeping her baby. Misery and hardship ensues. Director Paul Maunder brought kitchen sink drama to New Zealand television with this controversial National Film Unit production. The story 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.

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Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Blam Blam Blam, Music Video, 1981

Blam Blam Blam’s second hit from 1981 was angular and artsy, hook-filled but unsettling: all qualities captured in a theatrical video directed by Hey Hey It’s Andy host Andrew Shaw. Clowns, magicians, fire-eaters and trick cyclists join the band, while actors play out the saga of ‘Don’t Fight It, Marsha’. Don McGlashan’s future Front Lawn partner Harry Sinclair directed the actors – Phillip Gordon, Michael Hurst, Hester Joyce and Donogh Rees – and the Len Lye-style scratch effects were by Jenny Pullar, the Blams’ lighting designer.

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Finn for a Day

Television, 2001 (Full Length)

This documentary follows a 2001 Neil Finn tour of his bottom-of-the-world homeland. Finn challenged his perfectionist instincts by playing with a changing local line-up at each gig: mostly unknown fans offered a chance to “glisten like a pearl”. The performers ranged from veterans to teen guitarist-singer Jon Hume (four years away from the Australian Top 20 with band Evermore). In Dunedin the performance survives drinking rituals and uninvited stage guests; in another moment, a shy 14-year-old piano prodigy segues from Mozart into Split Enz classic 'I Got You'.

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Koha - Te Māori, a Cloak of Words

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

Koha - a weekly, 30 minute programme broadcast in English - was the first regular Māori programme shown in primetime, and provided a window into te ao Māori. This episode looks at the milestone Te Māori exhibition of Māori art. The exhibition toured the United States in 1984, opened up a world of Māori taonga to international audiences and returned home to applause and swelling Māori pride. 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.  

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Eyewitness - Punk

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

TVNZ journalist (and future Communicado founder) Neil Roberts does an ethnomusicologist turn in this edition of "established media tries to explain what the young people are doing". His subject is NZ's fledgling punk scene which is already on its way to extinction. Much of the focus is on Auckland but Doomed lead singer (and future TV presenter/producer) Johnny Abort (aka Dick Driver) flies the flag for the south. The Stimulators, Suburban Reptiles and Scavengers play live and punk fans pogo and talk about violence directed at them (from "beeries").   

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The Piano

Film, 1993 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the mud and bush is the only NZ film to have won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

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Heavenly Creatures

Film, 1994 (Trailer)

The movie that saw splatter-king Peter Jackson lauded by a whole new audience was born from Fran Walsh's long fascination with the Parker-Hulme case: two teenagers who invented imaginary worlds, wrote under imaginary personas, and in June 1954 murdered Pauline Parker's mother. Walsh and Jackson's kinetic vision of friendship, creativity and tragedy was greeted with Oscar nominations, deals with indie powerhouse Miramax, and rhapsodic acclaim for the film, and newbies Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet. Time magazine and 30 other publications named it one of the year's 10 best films.

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Whale Rider

Film, 2002 (Trailer)

Set at the East Coast town of Whāngārā, Whale Rider tells the tale of a young Māori girl, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), who challenges tradition and embraces the past in order to find the strength to lead her people forward. Directed and written by Niki Caro, the film is based on Witi Ihimaera's novel The Whale Rider. Coupling a specific sense of place and culture with a universal coming-of-age story, Whale Rider met with sizeable success worldwide, winning audience choice awards at Sundance and Toronto.

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Smash Palace

Film, 1981 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Smash Palace is a Kiwi cinema classic and launched Roger Donaldson's American career. Al Shaw (a brilliant, brooding Bruno Lawrence) is a racing car driver who now runs a wrecker's yard in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. His French wife Jacqui is unhappy there and leaves him, taking up with Al's best mate. When she restricts Al's access to his young daughter, his frustration explodes and he goes bush with the girl, desperate not to lose her too. "There's no road back" runs the tagline. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "amazingly accomplished".