Local news was a staple of pre-network 1960s NZ television, and retained its popularity in the network era. The amalgamation of TV1 and SPTV in 1980 produced regional shows The South Tonight and The Mainland Touch in the South Island, and Today Tonight in Wellington. Top Half covered the area spanning from Turangi to North Cape. It was presented for six years by the "dream team" of John Hawkesby and Judy Bailey (latter succeeded by Natalie Brunt in 1986). Amid some controversy, regional news on TVNZ was eased out by Holmes and the arrival of a new era of TV.
For nine years TVNZ's Top Half brought local news to Auckland and the upper North Island. In these excerpts a multicultural street festival is staged in Karangahape Road; the people of Ponsonby worry that their suburb's character is being lost to developers; there's a tantalising glimpse of a David Bowie concert; Dylan Taite finds country rockers The Warratahs busking on Ponsonby Road; local businesses in K Road are concerned about encroaching sleaze; and it is impossible to go wrong with a story about a baby orangutan and a camera shy mother.