It started with grunge and ended with Spice Girls; Di died, Clinton didn't inhale and the All Blacks were poisoned. On screen, Ice TV and Havoc were for the kids and a grown-up Kiwi cinema delivered a powerful triple punch. Tua's linguistic jab proved just as memorable, Tem got a geography lesson and Thingee's eye popped and reverberated around our living rooms.
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.
Irreverent 90s youth show Havoc launched the TV careers of hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells (the pair worked together at radio station 95bFM). This first episode played on MTV (then run by TVNZ). Guests are Shortland Street actor Angela Bloomfield, Metro editor Bill Ralston and musician Darcy Clay. Amongst pop culture montages, videos and archive (future MP Lockwood Smith hosts kids’ knowledge test The W Three Show), Newsboy meets Hustler magazine centrefold Kimberly. The show is date-stamped by Spice Girls, drum’n’bass, Sodastream and Wells’ gelled hair.
Black, white and red and youthful exuberance abound in this early music video from Supergroove, where a funk-heavy live performance is intercut with scenes of the band clowning around at the Otara Market, on a Three Kings volcano, and crowded into the back of an open-top VW. The hairstyle of vocalist and future Cambridge classics scholar Karl Steven — shaved aside from an extended fringe arrangement at the front — is a relic from another era.
Once Were Warriors opened the eyes of cinemagoers around the globe to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life. Director Lee Tamahori's hard-hitting depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst an urban Māori whānau was adapted from the best-selling Alan Duff novel. The film provided career-defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen as Jake the Muss and Beth Heke. It remains NZ's most watched local release in terms of bums on seats. Among a trio of backgrounders, Riwia Brown writes about adapting Duff's book for the screen.
The first episode of Shortland Street starts with a pregnant woman being rushed to the clinic after an accident. Only the doctors are all missing. Visiting Doctor Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison), who is soon to join the Shortland Street team, makes the call to deliver the baby. Head nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) disagrees, and proceeds to mention that Doctor Ropata is no longer in Guatemala. This first episode of the five night a week soap screened on 25 May 1992. It would go on to become New Zealand's longest running TV drama (but not our first soap — that was Close to Home).
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".
Ada (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. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
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.
The Son of a Gunn Show was a popular 90s after school links show for kids. It was hosted by the irrepressible Jason Gunn, who wrangled proceedings with the help of alien puppet sidekick Thingee. The energetic show took in everything from song and dance numbers, and educational segments, to spoofs and impressions (often Frank Spencer) as Gunn et al played in loco parentis to a generation of Kiwi kids. Guests included sports and show business celebrities of the day. The show ended when TVNZ moved their children’s production from Christchurch to Wellington.
Popstars was a key forerunner of the late 1990s reality television explosion. The series followed the creation and development of an all-girl pop band called TrueBliss (Carly Binding, Keri Harper, Joe Cotton, Megan Alatini and Erika Takacs), who went on to record several NZ chart-topping singles and a platinum-selling album. Also a hit was the series format, which sold around the world and helped inspire Pop Idol/American Idol, the franchise that would dominate reality TV for years to come.