This collection gathers classic screen moments for the pavlova and pohutukawa season: from broadcasting icons (Goodnight Kiwi, Thingee), to barbies, bickering and beer. Families come together to eat and drink (Alison Holst, Peta Mathias, Graham Kerr), and fall apart (in full-length dramas from Niki Caro and Gregory King). Plus the Ghost Chips guy, and a Santa with tattoos.
New Zealand's beloved Goodnight Kiwi has been through a number of incarnations since debuting on South Pacific Television (later TV2), in the mid-70s. TVNZ, aware that many Kiwis still held "a tremendous affection" for the kiwi and his cat, commissioned three animated spots to mark the 2008 Christmas holiday season. Auckland animator Tim Hunt was given the job of updating the originals, while still retaining the hand-drawn, 2D look. Of the three clips, the one above most closely follows the original Goodnight Kiwi sign-off which ran for over a decade.
This Shortland Street episode ended the 1995 season with a missing baby, a Christmas turkey and a bizarre accident. After being set up by conniving nurse Carla Leach (Elisabeth Easther), a drunken driver aims his Mac truck directly for the hospital's reception. Amongst the injured, Kirsty wakes up with a case of memory loss, while Carmen suffers unexpected after-effects, soon after swearing everlasting devotion to Guy Warner. Meanwhile Nick potentially faces prosecution, after accidentally leaving his girlfriend's one-year-old child at the supermarket.
This hit animated series about five Auckland school kids was created by Elizabeth Mitchell and theatre group Naked Samoans. This episode sees Vale (Oscar Kightley) dealing with deadlines, punch-ups and prima donnas as he rushes to write and direct the school musical. In the audience are HRH Prince Charles, Chris Knox, Scribe and Helen Clark, who all end up joining in during a showstopping final number about togetherness. "Stop the violence. We're honkies and Asians, horries and curry munchers. Morningside for life."
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 “Inga the Winger” Tuigamala. The fate of Christmas dinner hangs in the balance as guests and audience members take part in competitions that include an unfortunate way to make eggnog. Some bizarre presents are exchanged and there’s a cameo for Gunn's Mum. Jason also manages a Paul Holmes impression (along with some Frank Spencer and a dash of Rik Mayall).
Paul Holmes signed off editions of his weeknightly current affairs show with "Those were our people today, and that's Holmes tonight". 'Our people' in this 1997 Christmas special — presented from the roof of TVNZ — include seemingly everyone deemed worthy of news in 1997: from surgery survivors, to stowaways (the notoriously laconic Ingham twins) and All Blacks. Reporter Jim Mora finds politicians bustling for cheery airtime; Tom Scott recalls where he was when Princess Di died; and international celebs (from the Spice Girls to Kylie) send wishes downunder.
This CGI animated short stars the Easter Bunny and Santa, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. 'Tis the season to be addled in writer Wayne Ching’s twisted tale of an embittered bunny (voiced by English comedian Harry Enfield) whose remorse for Santa’s presents is “fuelled by vodka and anti-depressants.” A tattooed Santa channels Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty, and the rhyming couplets are more AO Grinch than child friendly. Directed by Alan Dickson and made by Kiwi animation house Yukfoo, the black comedy screened at Tribeca and SXSW film festivals.
The Farmers' Santa Parade is an iconic event in the lead-up to Christmas. Here, New Zealand's biggest Santa Parade is seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Sally. This is the 52nd annual parade, and the crowds pack Auckland's CBD to experience the excitement. The behind the scenes preparations include decorating floats, character dress ups, and a helicopter monitoring traffic and parking. As the parade winds its way through the streets, Sally waits for her big moment with the big red man himself — Santa Claus.
TV1 celebrated Christmas by throwing most of its big names into this 1977 comedy/variety show. Ringleaders Roger Gascoigne and Nice One Stu's Stu Dennison are joined by a cavalcade of newsreaders hiding under Santa beards. Among the loopy 70s oddities on show: Brian Edwards in school uniform, channelling The Goons; Selwyn Toogood doing an It's in the Bag sketch that would nowadays likely be deemed too un-PC to make it to air; plus racehorse expert Glyn Tucker talking reindeer races. Madcap band Mother Goose also appear.
The award-winning directing debut of actor Tammy Davis (better known as Outrageous Fortune’s Munter) is a South Auckland-set Christmas tale. Young Vinnie (Darcey-Ray Flavell-Hudson of Ghost Chips fame) and Jonah (James Ru) are bored on the mean streets — tagging, BMX-ing — when Jonah peer pressures Vinnie to join him in breaking and entering a house. When they find more than Christmas pressies inside, it tests mateship, moral codes and festive spirit. Crowned Best Film at Flickerfest, Ebony Society was selected for the Berlin and Sundance film festivals.
Miles (Joel Tobeck) is 16. His family are falling apart and he's got a crush on his cousin. An imminent royal visit offends his mother's political sensibilities and his father is spending time with a female neighbour. Christmas is coming and the twins have murder on their minds. Director Niki (Whale Rider) Caro's survey of the everyday eccentricities of family was nominated for best TV drama scipt and director at the 1994 NZ Film and TV Awards. The film was one of three half-hour dramas commissioned by TVNZ under the series title Another Country. Producer Owen Hughes writes about it here.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Live to air on weekend mornings since 1981, it is a Kiwi kids' TV institution. This Christmas Special sees presenters Simon Barnett, Jason 'The Ace' Gunn, and Cath McPherson larking it up with guests (Cath's Scottish Uncle Bob, Constable Keith and Sniff the Dog, The Wizard of Christchurch, the NZ 'Young Guns' cricket team) and in oddball summer and Christmas tales. Eddie and Fifi do decorative DIY. Check out the stone-wash denim and Barnett's frosted tips and lycra shorts.
No ordinary Christmas tale, The Monster’s Christmas throws viewers into a world of friendly creatures, talking hot pools and witches with gym equipment in their cave lairs. Child find Lucy McGrath revels in the role of a plucky girl who encounters a one-eyed monster with smoke billowing from his head. The monsters need her help to steal their voices back from an evil witch. The stylings of the live action creatures were influenced by the volcanic North Island locations, and designed by Janet Williamson and cartoonist Burton Silver. Yvonne Mackay (Kaitangata Twitch) directs.
This is the Christmas episode of comedian Te Radar's green living series. In this excerpt, he prepares lunch for 17 family members, using only food he has hunted or grown himself. The turkey shoot (with a little help from his long suffering neighbour) reveals him to be a better shot than a spotter. Then it's on to preparations for lunch, which include removing "organic matter" from the dining area. His young nephews and nieces are given a glimpse of the wonder of new life, but are not spared the harsh realities of just where lunch is coming from.
Taste New Zealand presenter Peta Mathias hosts this 2003 Christmas special featuring festive food, and songs and carols. Singers Hinewehi Mohi, Conal Coad, Brooke Fraser and King Kapisi perform, share Christmas memories, and cook their favourite seasonal dishes. Mathias herself does a stunning rendition of 'O Come All Ye Faithful' with the St Mary's College choir, and Mohi's bilingual version of 'Silent Night' with the Sacra Singers is a highlight.
Since debuting in 1986, Praise Be has become a Sunday morning perennial. In this extended 1993 Christmas special, original Praise Be presenter Graeme Thomson travels far and wide in search of heavenly vocals: including big city cathedrals, schools, among singing sailors at Devonport Naval Base, and to a disused Canterbury flour mill, where the local farming community pack in for 'Away in a Manger'. A number of TV personalities (Judy Bailey, Phillip Leishman) also make appearances, to talk about Christmas and read from the bible.
This low-budget feature fishtails after a Mum and her teenage kids, kicking around the far north one sleepy summer. Store Santa holiday jobs, teen romance, purloined cars, pet possums, and pot deals fill out the small town shenanigans plotline. Ray Woolf plays an undercover cop, and Calvin Tuteao is a kauri-hugging suitor. Director Peter Tait (who acted in Kitchen Sink) wrote the film to showcase the charisma of kids he was teaching at Taipa College. Made for under $20,000, the film “was bigger than Titanic” at Oruru’s Swamp Palace cinema and community hall.
Graham Kerr, NZ’s first celebrity chef, abandons his usual show format to answer queries from his studio audience about food and cooking. Topics covered by the soon-to-be world famous Galloping Gourmet include how to stop scrambled eggs drying out (add cream), battering oysters (never) and when to make Christmas cake (at least six months in advance). The show is a fascinating preserve of mid-60s cuisine – from crumbed cutlets and spaghetti bolognese to Kerr’s own curious ‘Long White Cloud’ dessert. Kerr, of course, is as witty, charming and urbane as ever.
These clips collect together excerpts from kid's TV icon Thingee's appearances on After School. Thingee, alongside hosts Jason Gunn and Annie Roache, engages in much loopy fun factual madness: he gets into the Christmas spirit with carol singing, discusses his ambitions to be a jet pilot so he can time travel to meet his Mum (courtesy of trans-Atlantic time difference); plans to take over Video Dispatch (as Thingee Dispatch); talks like a pirate, eats worms, burps and wets himself. Check out Gunn's over-sized sunglasses and trademark loud 80s shirts.
This final episode of pioneering A Week of It ("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 parliament-themed Cinderella Christmas pantomine, with David McPhail's Muldoon playing the stepmother. Jon Gadsby appears as Dr Groper, an un-PC GP; and God is a guest at an Anglican church in Fendalton. British comic legend Dudley Moore appears briefly in the extended 'best of' credits reel, alongside (Jeez) Wayne and the rest of the Gluepot Tavern lads.
Ask Country Calendar viewers which shows they remember and inevitably the answer is "the spoofs" — satirical episodes that screened unannounced. Sometimes there was outrage but mostly the public enjoyed having the wool pulled over their eyes. Created by producer Tony Trotter and Bogor cartoonist Burton Silver, the first (in late 1977) was the fencing wire-playing farmer and his "rural music". This special episode collects the best of the spoofs, from the infamous radio-controlled dog, to the gay couple who ran a "stress-free" flock, and more malarkey besides.
Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this panel show screened on weekday afternoons from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panellists answered viewers' letters, and took on "every problem, be it incest, love or tatting", as panelist Liz Grant says in a poetry reading. This 1982 Christmas Day special drops the advice to concentrate on entertainment from a super team of 12 panelists, including regulars Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, and Catherine Saunders. Johnny Frisbie attempts to teach Toogood a hula, and Toogood sings Yes! We Have No Bananas.
Stu Dennison hosted TV One's children's show Nice One from 1976 to 1978, making the catch phrase "Nice one, Stu" a part of NZ TV legend. This 1978 Christmas show, and final ever Nice One programme, branched out from the show's usual after-school interstitials length to a half-hour special featuring series regulars such as singer/songwriter Steve Allen, and chef Alison Holst (look out for her son and now business partner Simon as a young boy, in their Christmas cooking segment). Stu's corduroy flares and waistcoat ensemble is a 70s delight to behold.
Tis the season to be toxic in this "distinctly Kiwi take on the f***ed up whanau" (Chris Knox, Real Groove). Broke, depressed oldest son Keri arrives home to face up to a suburban Christmas countdown and two messed up sisters, a gay brother, drunk kids, and narcoleptic parents. Director Gregory King wrests bleak comedy and holiday horrors from the tokes, tinsel and frequent toilet visits. The raw realism of his debut feature saw it selected for Toronto, Locarno, Edinburgh, and Melbourne festivals. It won best digital film and script at the 2003 NZ Film Awards.
Directed by David Sims, A Train For Christmas follows the Kingston Flyer as it chugs through the farmland of Southland from Lumsden to Kingston, where on the shores of Lake Wakatipu it meets with the steamer TSS Earnslaw. With the driver as narrator, this poetic, and sometimes fantastical (the train talks at one point) celebration of steam transportation evokes a bygone era when the train “would stop at every crossing, hedge and house.” The steam train is cast as an integral part of a vast landscape and the communities that it travels through.
Set over a Christmas beach holiday in 1935, The End of the Golden Weather chronicles the friendship between a teenage boy and the wild-limbed Firpo, dreamer and social outcast. Writer/director Ian Mune spent more than 15 years "massaging" Bruce Mason's classic solo play into a movie, before assembling a dream team to bring it to the screen. The finished film captures the world view of a boy for whom fantasy, hope and disappointment intermingle. Among an impressive awards haul, 12-year-old star Stephen Fulford was recognised at America's Youth in Film Awards.
This 2007 Christmas special was the final swansong of Ask Your Auntie, Māori Television’s top-rating agony aunt show. The series gained a solid reputation for dishing out no-nonsense advice from its spirited panellists, as can be sampled in the montage of clips and quips in this hour long special. As one might expect from a Christmas edition, this show eschews the tough and gritty for more uplifting subjects, including what to feed your Christmas guests. Musical entertainment is provided by the Tama Waipara Band and singer Ringiringi Manawaiti.
Home by Christmas sees Gaylene Preston returning to the hidden stories of ordinary New Zealanders. Inspired by attempts to get her father Ed to reveal his WWII experiences, this finely-balanced docu-drama moves between three strands: Preston’s father (Goodbye Pork Pie's Tony Barry, in a Qantas award-winning performance) retelling his story; recreations of Ed’s wartime OE; and life for the woman he left behind in Greymouth. The dream cast sees Preston’s own daughter Chelsie Preston Crayford playing Preston's mother Tui, alongside Martin Henderson.
In this Christmas special from the long-running disability interests show, the team don festive costumes. Reporter Grant Sharman takes some of the young stars out for a tea party, Curtis Palmer presents his third postcard from Turkey, Northland blind student Aine sings a carol, and we attend the opening of the Mouth and Foot Painters Association exhibition in Christchurch. Meanwhile junior reporter Anthony Jellyman takes us on a tour of the Attitude set with his own camera in hand, and introduces some of the cast and crew.