Buckle up as we blast more Kiwi celebs from the past. To introduce the collection Paul Casserly takes a long media lunch with a party of precocious pre-fame Kiwis — from Helen Clark to Tana Umaga, Lorde to Lawless, Hickey to Neill, Tem to Bic, Ko to Lowe — and muses on fame and fortune. “Was everyone young and gorgeous once? Helen Clark certainly was.”
A 24-year-old Helen Clark (complete with long flowing locks) features in this NZBC current affairs footage from the annual conference of Young Labour — the Labour Party’s youth division. Twenty five years before she will become NZ’s first elected female Prime Minister, Clark is a junior politics lecturer making her way in the party machine as she chairs a session about abortion law reform. The room might be smoke filled but the atmosphere is more earnest than Machiavellian; and, while commitment to the cause is strong, expectations are more finite.
Before you could call her Queen Bee and ‘Royals’ was a Grammy-winning smash hit Ella Yelich-O’Connor was a singer in Extreme and competing in the covers category of the 2009 Intermediate Schools Battle of the Bands Finals. The 12-year-old Belmont Intermediate student and her band channel Led Zep and belt out covers of ‘Man on a Silver Mountain’, by Rainbow, and ‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’, The Cult’s tribute to Andy Warhol heroine Edie Sedgwick. “The gods lay at your fee-e-eet …” Ella. Post-performance Ella bemoans a “sore voice” but Extreme take third place.
By the time of Gloss’s second season the sharemarket had crashed, but the parade of yuppies, shoulder-pads and champagne went on. This 19 July 1988 episode sees the Redfern family deal with a tragedy; it also features an acting cameo from future weatherman Jim Hickey. In these excerpts Hickey isn’t playing meteorological soothsayer to the nation, but a policeman responding to the mysterious death of Brad Redfern (Michael Keir-Morrissey). He soothes the Redferns, after tossing a coin with a fellow officer for a ride to Remuera in the deceased’s Jaguar.
This Wellington-set 80s TV series sees real estate agent Selwyn, TV producer Nardia (early turns from Temuera Morrison and Jennifer Ward-Lealand) and art student Ben (Kerry McKay) as a young trio united by a mysterious invitation. At an antique shop dinner the three adopted children discover that they share a colourful birth mother, before becoming players in a game for a legacy of $250,000 (and more existential prizes). This first episode features ouija boards and a funeral at Futuna Chapel; alongside 80s knitwear, a saxophone score and du jour animated titles.
Predating hit show Survivor, this early TV3 reality TV documentary saw Kiwi teens fending for themselves over eight days on Rakitu Island. Among the three females and three males facing off Lord of the Flies-style were future National MP Nikki Kaye, who later argued she was meant to represent the "private school girl who couldn't survive without a hairdryer". Instead Kaye took the leader’s role and clubbed an eel, while many of her companions showed little inclination to help with the fishing. Kaye later opposed her party’s proposal to mine on nearby Great Barrier Island.
Seventeen-year-old Timothy is facing suspension from school after a misguided prank. His parents hope the French-Canadian exchange student they’re due to host will settle Tim down, but when ‘Michel’ turns out to be ‘Michelle’ — and spunky — plans go awry. Dean O’Gorman (The Hobbit) plays a star-gazing, rugby-playing Tim. Coming of age and cross cultural comedy ensues as he attempts to court his Montreal mademoiselle. Shot around Avondale College, the award-winning film received a special mention from the Children’s Jury at the 1996 Berlin Film Festival.
Hosted by Phil Keoghan not long before he left for the US, Short Sportz was a TV3 sports show encouraging kids to get involved in sports. Keoghan (later to win fame as host of Amazing Race) often kitted up himself Paper Lion-style: here he takes base against Black Sox pitches and cycles with future ironman champion Cameron Brown. This 1991 ‘best of’ show is notable for a segment presented by a rising Wainuiomata league star who’s just been signed by Newcastle Knights: Tana Umaga. Umaga’s NRL career was short-lived, and he went on to become an All Black legend.
Luscious fruit, truckies, and Lucy Lawless feature in this Christine Parker short. Sal (Tania Simon) is gifted the titular peach and meets a saucy tow truck driver (Lawless) en route home to her toddler and domestics with boyfriend Mog (Joel Tobeck). Mog’s truckie mates arrive for beers; but include Lawless, whose presence (and peach-eating advice) stirs up desire: “Watch it rot, or taste it when it’s ripe.” A roster of leading NZ film talent worked with Parker on the film, and Lawless' turn (an early film role) hints at the cross-sexual appeal of Xena.
Love Soup was a high school duo formed by singer-songwriter Bic Runga and guitarist Kelly Horgan. After coming third in the Smokefree Rockquest, they were picked up by Trevor Reekie’s Pagan Records. This video is about all that is extant from Love Soup, as they were overtaken by Runga’s burgeoning solo career. Shortly to be signed by major label Sony, her debut hit single (and APRA Silver Scroll winner) ‘Drive’ was only months away. Aged just 19, Runga already looks and sounds remarkably assured as she sings about a lost friendship, to a mystical CGI cipher.
Made by Philip McDonald (Such a Stupid Way to Die) for the National Water and Soil Conservation Authority, this film explores the impact of people on New Zealand’s water cycle. Prescient shots of irrigation, industrial waste and run-off from dairy farming show Godzone’s 1972 waterways to be far short of 100% pure — the closing national anthem played over polluted rivers underlines the point. A mid-20s Sam Neill (then working at the National Film Unit) cameos as an eau-so-suave drinker in a scene showing the disconnection between water use and where it comes from.
A teenage boy's unorthodox relationship with his father (Wi Kuki Kaa) is explored as he learns about the guises of hypocrisy in this E Tipu E Rea edition, written by Bruce Stewart and starring Faifua Amiga as Thunderbox Junior. After establishing a reputation as one of New Zealand's most original commercials directors this was Lee (Once Were Warriors) Tamahori's first attempt at the helm of longer drama. "You tend to get a bit of experience making people laugh when you direct commercials [...]. One thing I'm sure of is that people like to laugh at themselves."
This five-minute excerpt from Asia Downunder’s final (2011) season joins promising golfer Lydia Ko at the driving range. Here the South Korean-born Ko is a 14 year-old student at Pinehurst School. Her coach Guy Wilson, who trained her since she was six, discusses seeking sponsorship, and Ko talks about the challenges of keeping up study while training 40 hours a week. The dilemma was soon to become moot: the world’s top-ranked amateur turned pro on 23 October 2013. In early 2014 Ko was ranked fourth on the LPGA tour and won the Halberg Supreme Award.
Radio Waves charted the “lives and loves” of a commercial Auckland radio station. In this episode drive-time DJ Win Savage (Grant Bridger) champions roll-on deodorant “for the ozone” and piques advertisers. Andy Anderson is a randy ‘jock’ and Alan Dale is urbane station manager Jack. It was Dale’s screen debut, before finding fame in Australia (Neighbours) and the US (24, Lost, Ugly Betty). Waves was short-lived — The Bee Gees and flares weren’t enough for viewers to shut the farm gate — but its upbeat urban strivers signaled a changing face for NZ on screen.
This sci-fi telefeature for kids follows the adventures of runaways Peter (Toby Laing) and Maggie (Toni Driscoll), who meet when Maggie’s attempt to get Picnic bars on a five finger discount go awry and "rich brat" Peter is on the lam on a 10-speed. After falling into a grave of golden light at a farm cemetery, they wake up in the house of the strange Piper family. Laing is now trumpeter for Fat Freddys Drop, and a young Kerry Fox appears briefly as a policewoman in the opening. Scripted by veteran Ken Catran, the telefeature was re-cut from a four-part series.
On their second single, future BBC radio star Zane Lowe and his 90s hip-hop crew proclaim themselves to be an expression of their "headphones and kerbstones", as they dedicate themselves to "knocking down the doors of the hip-hop frauds". Director Craig Jackson provides an appropriately urban setting in which the crew voice their declaration. As his footage alternates between monochrome and colour, deserted cityscapes (including the old Auckland Railway Station) combine with drifting, jazzy notes to make for a aptly impressionistic scoring of the streets.