Selected by NZ On Screen team
This collection brings together classic telly and film moments for the pavlova and pohutukawa season. From broadcasting icons (Goodnight Kiwi, Thingee), to barbies, bickering and beer. Families come together to feed (Kerr, Mathias, Holst), drink (the West clan), fall apart (in full length Gregory King and Niki Caro dramas); and a farmer gets jiggy with the fencing wire.
In 2008 there was no longer an end of the day’s transmission to mark, but many NZers still held "a tremendous affection" for Goodnight Kiwi and TVNZ rebooted the beloved icon to mark the Christmas holiday season. Luckily for The Cat, Gareth Morgan’s Cats to Go campaign was still some years away.
This Shortland Street episode ended the 1995 season with a missing baby, a Christmas turkey and a tumultuous accident: a drunken driver ploughs his Mac truck into the hospital reception. Injured Kirsty wakes up with memory loss, and Carmen suffers side-effects, after pledging her love to Guy.
Jason Gunn and sidekick Thingee present a Christmas Day special as only they can. Guests include Wonder Dogs host Mark Leishman, singers Debbie Harwood and Kim Willoughby and All Black Va’aiga Tuigamala. The fate of Christmas dinner hangs in the balance as eggnog turns predictably messy.
TV1 celebrated Christmas 1977 by throwing its big names into this variety show. Roger Gascoigne and Stu (Nice One) Dennison are joined by a cavalcade of newsreaders in Santa beards, as well as Brian Edwards in school uniform, Selwyn Toogood doing an un-PC It’s in the Bag sketch, and madcap band Mother Goose.
‘Our people’ (as Holmes described his subjects in the show’s sign-off) in this 1997 Christmas special range from the notoriously laconic Ingham twins to All Blacks. Tom Scott recalls where he was when Princess Di died; and international celebs (from the Spice Girls to Kylie) send wishes downunder.
Live to air on weekend mornings since 1981, What Now? is a Kiwi kids’ TV institution. This 1991 Christmas Special sees presenters Simon Barnett, Jason ‘The Ace’ Gunn, and Cath McPherson larking it up with guests (including Sniff the Dog and The Wizard) in oddball summer and Christmas tales.
The award-winning directing debut of actor Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune’s Munter) is a South Auckland-set Christmas-fable where young Vinnie (Darcey-Ray Flavell-Hudson of Ghost Chips fame) and Jonah’s night out stealing goes askew. It was selected for Berlin and Sundance film festivals.
Yvonne Mackay's one-off fantasy features friendly creatures, Xmas carols, talking hot pools and witches with gym equipment in their cave lairs. Playing the plucky hero, Lucy McGrath encounters a one-eyed monster with smoke coming from his head, and helps the monsters steal their voices back from an evil witch.
This account of NZ's biggest Santa Parade (the one filmed here is the 52nd edition) is seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Sally. This programme goes behind the scenes, and as the procession winds its way through Auckland's packed CBD, Sally waits for her moment with the big red man.
This CGI animated short stars the Easter Bunny and Santa, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. English comedian Harry Enfield voices an embittered Bunny, a tattooed Santa channels Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty, and the rhyming couplets rhyme ‘presents’ with ‘anti-depressants’.
In this extended 1993 Christmas special of the Sunday morning perennial, original presenter Graeme Thomson searches for heavenly vocals everywhere from city cathedrals and schools, to Devonport Naval Base, and a disused Canterbury flour mill, where the local farmers recite ‘Away in a Manger’.
In this special episode NZ’s first celebrity chef answers questions from a studio audience. Recipes covered by the soon-to-be world famous Galloping Gourmet include when to make Christmas cake and mince (at least six months in advance), and Kerr’s own brandy bombastic ‘Long White Cloud’ dessert.
Taste New Zealand presenter Peta Mathias hosts this festive food fun-times special. Singers Hinewehi Mohi, Conal Coad, Brooke Fraser and King Kapisi perform and cook their fave seasonal dishes. Mathias recites 'O Come All Ye Faithful' with the St Mary’s College choir.
Christmas as a time of familial gathering and hope poignantly hangs over this Gaylene Preston docudrama, where she revisits her parents life during wartime: her father’s experience away fighting and her mother Tui at home. The cast includes Tony Barry, Chelsie Preston Crayford, and Martin Henderson.
Bug-eyed After School puppet Thingee gets into the Christmas spirit with hosts Jason and Annie. The 80s children’s TV icon gets into carol singing: “Jingle bells, jingle bells, all around my neck / Jingle bells, jingle bells, my nose will hit the deck” as he gives the desk a Liverpool kiss.
This final episode of the pioneering satire series ("NZ's longest running comedy programme — discounting parliament") features a three wise men parody (lost without a Shell road map); pirate Radio Hauraki; and a politics-themed Cinderella Christmas pantomine (McPhail/Muldoon as the stepmother).
It wouldn’t be Christmas without ‘Good King Wenceslas’ played on a No.8 wire fence would it? Check out the fence-playing farmer and his “rural music”; one part of a special collection of Country Calendar’s classic spoofs, created by producer Tony Trotter and Bogor cartoonist Burton Silver.
This episode of the popular animated TV series opens with birthday boy Jesus as a thespian and peace-broker in a tiff between River Phoenix and William Shakespeare. God intervenes and the ensuing intolerance debate leads to a school musical episode of bro’Town.
This panel show was presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood. Toogood and his beauties typically answered viewers' letters (“we tackle every problem, be it incest, love or tatting”) but in this 1982 Christmas Day special, things get loose. Toogood hulas and sings ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas’.
Stu Dennison hosted TV1 children’s show Nice One from 1976 to 1978, and his catch phrase "Nice one, Stu" became a part of New Zealand TV legend. This 1978 Christmas show, features singer/songwriter Steve Allen, and chef Alison Holst alongside Stu’s 70s corduroy flares and waistcoat ensemble.
Miles (Joel Tobeck) is 16. His family are falling apart and he's in love with his cousin. An imminent Royal visit offends his mother's politics and his father is spending too much time with a female neighbour. Christmas is coming and his brothers have murder on their minds in this Niki Caro-directed half-hour drama.
This NFU film follows the Kingston Flyer as it journeys through Southland to shores of Lake Wakatipu where it meets with the TSS Earnslaw. Narrated by the driver (and at one point, the Flyer itself) the steam train is cast as an integral part of the landscape and towns that it travels through.
In this episode of Te Radar’s green living series the comedian hosts a 'Last Supper' Christmas lunch for 17 family, made from food he's grown or hunted himself. “Here's a toast to the fact that you've raised a son who now lives in a caravan in the middle of a paddock - you must all be so proud!”
Set over a Christmas beach holiday in 1935, The End of the Golden Weather chronicles the friendship between a 12-year-old boy and the wild-limbed dreamer Firpo. This is the trailer for Ian Mune’s adaptation of Bruce Mason’s classic solo play; the film won eight NZ Film Awards.
This Christmas special was the swansong of the popular Maori Television’s women’s chat show. With host Ella Henry at the helm, and regular panelists appearing, this episode eschews the tough and gritty for more uplifting subjects, such as what to feed the whānau on the day.
Tis the season to be toxic in this “distinctly kiwi take on the fucked up whanau” (Chris Knox). Director Gregory King wrests bleak comedy and holiday horrors from the tokes, tinsel and frequent toilet visits. King’s award-winning debut can watched in full on NZ On Screen. Warning: Praise Be this is not!
In this Christmas special of the disability interests show Attitude, Grant takes some of the young stars out for a tea party; Curtis presents his third postcard from Turkey; Northland blind student Aine sings a carol; and the opening of the Mouth and Foot Painters Association exhibition in Christchurch is shown.
Gaylene Preston’s 2010 feature film dramatised her parents’ life during wartime. In this 'making of' doco the director reveals that actor Tony Barry's distinctive voice is almost a carbon copy of her father's; and Chelsie Preston Crayford talks about portraying her own grandmother.
That's what Captain Cook and his crew ate. Find out more in NZHistory.net entry on the history of Christmas in New Zealand.
Check out this selection of nine historic Christmas cards from the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
NZ ON SCREEN 2015
This website has been made with funding from NZ ON AIR ›