Legendary NZ TV Moments

This collection celebrates the legendary moments that New Zealanders — huddled around the telly — gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our Choysa over as they played out on our screens. "There's a generation who remember where they were when JFK was shot", but as Paul Casserly asks in his collection primer, "where were you when Thingee's eye popped out?"

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The Son of a Gunn Show - Thingee's Eye Pop

Television, 1994 (Full Length)

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.)

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Police Ten 7 (always blow on the pie)

Television, 2009 (Excerpts)

It was the food safety advice heard around the world. The late night footage of a policeman interrogating a suspected car thief on TVNZ's 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' of its day provided global news odd spot fodder, and inspired t-shirts, dubstep tracks and countless YouTube parodies.

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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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6.30PM News - Leeza Gibbons

Television, 1988 (Excerpts)

In 1988 Entertainment This Week’s host Leeza Gibbons and Coronation Street’s Christopher Quinten found love while taking part in a New Zealand Telethon. The pair starred in two of New Zealand’s favourite TV shows and the sight of them falling for each other live in the Christchurch studios was the talk of the country; viewers — like the couple — were literally agape. This 6.30PM News segment re-caps the romance and follows the duo to Arrowtown for a winter stroll. A year later they were married, but by 1991 it was all over. Warning: includes a deep pash.

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Wheel of Fortune - Celebrity Episode (10 Oct 1992)

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

Wheel of Fortune is a game show that involves the solving of Hangman-style posers. Contestants spin the wheel to accrue prizes, guess vowels or consonants that may be in the answer, and earn the right to roll again. The 90s Kiwi edition was hosted by Phillip Leishman and Lana Coc-Kroft. In this 10 October 1992 celebrity episode the contestants were actor Andy Anderson, Fair Go reporter Rosalie Nelson, and Barcelona Olympic bronze medalist boxer (and future World Heavyweight title challenger) David Tua, who infamously requested the letter O, "for Awesome".

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Eyewitness News - Bob Jones punches reporter Rod Vaughan

Television, 1985 (Excerpts)

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?

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3 News - 'Corngate' interview with Helen Clark

Television, 2002 (Excerpts)

On 09 July 2002 the ruling Labour Party was under pressure on the Genetic Engineering (GE) issue, when John Campbell confronted Prime Minister Helen Clark over the suspected release of GE corn seed in 2000. In a 3 News special a fired-up Campbell, informed by Nicky Hager's yet-to-be-published Seeds of Distrust, alleged there had been a cover up. Upset at what she perceived as an ambush, Clark reacted tersely; she later labelled Campbell a "sanctimonious little creep". With a general election looming, the encounter was dubbed 'Corngate'.

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Eyewitness News - Snap Election Setup

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

In one of NZ politics’ more notorious episodes, PM Rob Muldoon, his slim majority in tatters, calls a snap election. Party president Sue Wood is beside him but he has already ignored her advice that the party isn’t ready for the polls. It was widely suggested that Muldoon was drunk (and reporter Rob Neale can’t resist a “high spirits” jibe) — or perhaps he believed his own invincibility — but it was the beginning of the end for an era he had dominated. The limousine looks quaint, but the National Party’s Macintosh is a pointer to the electioneering of the future.

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Holmes - The First Episode

Television, 1989 (Excerpts)

The very first Holmes show. In this famous interview, Paul Holmes asks American yachtsman Dennis Conner to apologise for cheating in the America's Cup. Conner storms out, making headlines the next day and giving the new show a ratings boost. The NZ Herald described this interview as "an aggressive, overly-mannered encounter interview rather than a thoughtful interrogation, a ratings-generating event rather than a genuine, tenacious journalistic grilling." It was a style that made Holmes famous.

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Face to Face with Kim Hill - John Pilger

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

"You waste my time because you have not prepared for this interview. This interview frankly is a disgrace." This is an excerpt from Kim Hill's infamous 2003 interview with John Pilger, award-winning journalist, author and documentary-maker. Via satellite link from Sydney, Pilger discusses Middle East politics. He says what he would do about Saddam Hussein, and what he thinks about sanctions against Iraq. An angry Pilger says Hill is not asking informed questions. Hill pushes Pilger's book across the desk. Pilger implores Hill to: "Just read. Read. It takes time."

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Shortland Street - First Episode

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

This iconic serial drama is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the staff and patients of Shortland Street Hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, it screens five nights a week on TV2. The show has screened internationally, and is by far New Zealand's longest running TV drama (though not the first ‘soap’ — that honour goes to Close to Home, which played twice a week from 1975 - 1983). Characters and lines from Shortland Street have entered the culture, most famously “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!”, which features in this first episode.

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The Listener Gofta Awards 1987

Television, 1987 (Excerpts)

One of NZ television's more notorious episodes, the 1987 Gofta Awards start promisingly with an extended montage of Auckland scenes (just before the share market crash) but it's downhill from there. Presenters Leeza (Entertainment This Week) Gibbons and Nic Nolan look bizarre in silver suits; an underfed and over excited audience grows more and more vocal; special guest John Inman (Mr Humphries from UK sitcom Are You Being Served?) is heckled; and things come badly unstuck as timing issues see winners turned away as they try to collect their awards. 

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Goodnight Kiwi

Television, 1981 (Full Length)

Before 24-hr TV, there was Goodnight Kiwi, a short animation from Sam Harvey that bade viewers goodnight once the day's broadcasting ended. Each night the plucky Kiwi shut up shop at the TV station, put out the milk, and caught the lift up to sleep in a satellite dish with The Cat. For a generation of kids, Goodnight Kiwi became a much-loved symbol of staying up well past your bedtime. Viewers never questioned why our nocturnal national icon was going to bed at night, or sharing a bed with a cat. The tune is an arrangement of a Māori lullaby, 'Hine e Hine'.

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Tonight - Robert Muldoon interview

Television, 1976 (Full Length)

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."

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6.30PM News - Grahame Thorne's Perm

Television, 1983 (Excerpts)

With stints as an All Black, Springbok triallist, sports presenter, National MP, and sometime celebrity chef, Grahame Thorne has experienced his share of fame. But perhaps his hottest 15 minutes came after he dared to present the sports news one day in 1983 ... with a perm. The ensuing national trauma inspired headlines, irate phonecalls, and “curls are for girls” banners at rugby games. Sadly the perm’s freshest incarnation is lost to the archives, and this slightly grown-out version is the only extant evidence of a key moment in Kiwi fashion history.

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Gallery - Post Office Go Slow

Television, 1970 (Full Length)

In this famous edition of current affairs show Gallery interviewer Brian Edwards turns conciliator in a long-running industrial dispute. Post Office workers had imposed a go-slow after wage negotiations broke down. Producer Des Monaghan managed to get the Postmaster General Mr McCready and Mr Reddish of the Post Office union into the studio together. In the interview’s final minutes Edwards forced an agreement between the two men to stop union action and go back into mediation. This programme won Edwards a Feltex Award for ‘Best Performance as Frontman’.

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Melody Rules - Going, Going ... Goner (Episode One)

Television, 1993 (Full Length Episode)

'Going, Going, Gone ...' was the ominous title for the opening episode of one of NZ television's most celebrated failures. With her mother on an archaeological dig in Malaysia, Melody (Belinda Todd) is babysitting her brother and sister and counting down to a much anticipated holiday of her own. But will Mum make it back in time (or will she only ever be a voice on the phone)? Will her brother survive his first date? And will her sister get to the big Slagheap concert? And who thought it was good idea for Brendan (Allan Brough) to wear that shirt?