Derek Wooster is a veteran producer, director, reporter and writer who made milestone mainstream and Māori programming — from Mastermind to Marae — throughout his 30-year career with Television New Zealand. As well as creating and producing the country's longest running Māori current affairs series, Wooster has worked on significant national broadcasts including the tangihanga of Dame Whina Cooper and the Māori Queen.
I am privileged that so many trusted me enough to tell me their stories, sing me their songs, perform their dances – so that others could share their views and talents. Derek Wooster
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
This edition in Prime’s television history series surveys Māori programming. Director Tainui Stephens pairs societal change (urbanisation, protest, cultural resurgence) with an increasing Māori presence in front of and behind the camera. Interviews with broadcasters are intercut with Māori screen content. The episode charts an evolution from Māori as exotic extras, via pioneering documentaries, drama and current affairs, to being an intrinsic part of Aotearoa’s screen landscape, with te reo used on national news, and Māori telling their own stories on Māori Television.
Marae (now Marae Investigates) is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. First broadcast in 1992 the hour long magazine programme aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues, political or otherwise, that affect Māori, and explain kaupapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll gives the programme publicity in other media as a respected barometer of matters Māori. One of Marae's high points is its post-election mustering of successful Māori candidates — this 2008 edition features the five Māori Party and two Labour Party MPs.
Mai Time was an influential magazine show for Māori youth, exploring te ao Māori and pop culture (it was one of the first shows to screen local hip-hop), with presenters speaking in te reo and English. This one hour final looks back over the 12 years of the show, beginning with a roll call of hosts: including Stacey Morrison (nee Daniels), Quinton Hita, and Teremoana Rapley. Current hosts Olly Coddington and Gabrielle Paringatai look at the show’s impact and legacy, as well as Stacey’s “mad facial expressions”, Patara’s Stubbies and Quinton’s Peter Andre tribute.
Mai Time was an influential magazine show for Māori youth, screening for a decade on Saturday mornings on TV2. This episode looks at the place of ta moko (tattoo), interviewing Robert Ruha, a 27-year-old with a full-face moko. Mai Time crew visit Otara Music Arts Centre, a Matariki exhibition at Whaingaroa (Raglan), and then artist Lisa Reihana finds “more mean art by the sea”: Brett Graham and Rachel Rakena’s Aniwaniwa exhibition at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Aptly, the artwork explores the 1947 flooding of the village of Horahora for a hydroelectric scheme.
More than 430,000 people watched television coverage of the Māori Queen's tangi. Broadcast across three networks and streamed around the world, the coverage began with the coronation of the successor to Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. Cameras then traced Dame Te Atairangikaahu's final journey from Turangawaewae along the Waikato River by waka, to her final resting place on Mount Taupiri. The presenting team, led by veteran journalist Derek Fox, was chosen by both TVNZ and Māori Television Services.
Radio Wha Waho was a pioneering bilingual sitcom about a rural iwi radio station that is close to collapse. Among characters talking back in te reo and getting up to antics on this Māori-style WKRP in Cincinnati are a smoothtalking DJ with delusions of being a ladykiller (a pre-Mrs Semisi Hori Ahipene); a young fireball who wants to graduate to a big station in the city (Greg Mayor, future star of Stewart Main short Twilight of the Gods); and Aunty Doss (Kath Akuhata-Brown), the heart and soul of the whole operation. Produced by TVNZ's Māori department.
Radio Wha Waho was a pioneering bilingual sitcom about a down on its luck rural iwi radio station. The talkback in this Māori-style WKRP in Cincinnati is in te reo and english; the on-air crew include a DJ with delusions of being a ladykiller (a pre-Mrs Semisi Hori Ahipene); a young fireball seeking fame in the city (Greg Mayor); and Aunty Doss (Kath Akuhata-Brown), the heart and soul of the operation. In this first episode, directed by veteran Marae producer Derek Wooster, the station faces permanent silence after a DJ's late night talk causes offence.
Marae is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. First broadcast in 1992, the magazine programme aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues — political or otherwise — that affect Māori, and explain kaupapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll has gained coverage in other media as a respected barometer of matters Māori. Marae was re-launched in October 2010 as Marae Investigates, presented by Scotty Morrison and Jodi Ihaka Marae (and later Miriama Kamo) . Screening on TV One, the show is presented half in english and half in te reo Māori.
In the grand final of the fifteenth and penultimate series of TVNZ's premier quiz show, host Peter Sinclair grills contestants on general knowledge and a specialist subject: the life and works of AA Milne and David Bowie, TV's Fawlty Towers and battleships since 1906. First prize is a 14-day trip to London and the coveted chair. Contestants include the year's youngest entrant: Wheel of Fortune winner and future film critic, sports historian and writer Hamish McDouall. The show's first champion, 1976 winner Patrick Bowles, presents the prizes.
Corbans Fashion Collections was a live event and TV special staged annually in the 1990s, where local fashion houses showcased their upcoming collections. The producer of both the live shows and the TV programmes was Pieter Stewart, who went on to launch NZ Fashion Week. The first special screened in 1990, and the last in 1997 (the 96 and 97 shows changed names to Wella Fashion Collections as a new sponsor came on board). In 1998/99 the show morphed into the Wella Fashion Report, four seasonal specials screening in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
This four-part TVNZ series from 1986 surveyed the history of soul music, with a roll call of talented Kiwi performers belting out the genre's classics. In this first episode — presented by Dalvanius with Stevie Wonder braids — the focus is on the influential 60s soul music of New York label Atlantic Records. Singers include Bunny Walters, Debbie Harwood, The Yandall Sisters, Peter Morgan and more. Ardijah chime in with their contemporary soul hit ‘Your Love is Blind’. The series writer was Murray Cammick, founder of music magazine Rip It Up.
Kicking off with his hero Elvis Presley's song 'That's Alright,' the late Prince Tui Teka delivers a classic performance in this TVNZ-filmed variety show (one of three specials). The Yandall Sisters back-up on the smoky, Vegas-inspired set. Tui sings his hit 'E Ipo' with wife Missy, and they pay tribute to the song’s Māori lyricist Ngoi (‘Poi-E’) Pewhairangi. The songs are peppered with warmth, humour and poi action (led by a young Pita Sharples), as Tui Teka confirms his reputation as one of Aotearoa's great entertainers. The classy Bernie Allen-led band includes legendary guitarist Tama Renata.
Music legend Prince Tui Teka performs his greatest hit ‘E Ipo’ in this excerpt from a TVNZ special recorded at Auckland’s Mandalay Ballroom. Based on a traditional Indonesian folk melody, ‘E Ipo’ was written by Teka with Ngoi (‘Poi E’) Pewhairangi, when he was courting her niece (and his future wife) Missy. The two join Tui Teka on stage (along with Pita Sharples’ Te Roopu Manutaki cultural group) for a rousing rendition performed with his trademark verve and humour. The song reached number one, following te reo-dominated chart-toppers 'The Bridge' (sung by Deane Waretini) in 1981, and Howard Morrison's 1982 version of 'How Great Thou Art'.
Regular Māori programmes started on Television New Zealand in 1980 with Koha, a weekly, 30 minute programme broadcast in English. It explored everything from social problems, tribal history, natural history, about weaponry, to the preparation of food, canoe history, carvings and their meanings, language and how it changed through time. It was a window into te ao Māori for Pākekā, and provided a link to urban Māori estranged from their culture. It was the first regular Māori programme to be shown in prime time.
The launchpad for Billy T’s rise to television superstar, Radio Times recreates an era when home entertainment involved another type of box entirely. Inspired by 30s and 40s era radio extravaganzas, producer Tom Parkinson creates a show complete with swinging dancehall band, adventure serials and coconut shell sound effects. Parkinson’s masterstroke was casting Billy T as the oh-so-British compere glueing everything together (and occasionally sliding effortlessly into a different accent). The Yandall Sisters, singer Craig Scott and writer Derek Payne also feature.
Mastermind was big brother to W3 and University Challenge in the pantheon of TVNZ's 80s quiz shows. The format (based on its creator's experience of being interrogated by the Gestapo) was licensed from the BBC and an ice cold Peter Sinclair asked the questions (with none of the bonhomie he allowed himself on University Challenge). Contestants faced two minute rounds on general knowledge and an array of sometimes mind-boggling specialist subjects ranging from Shakespeare, opera and gastronomy, to Winnie the Pooh, tantric yoga and sulphuric acid production.
TVNZ’s long running quiz show was based on the BBC series which pitted four-member teams from the country’s universities against each other. Otago lecturer Charles Higham was the initial quizmaster but veteran frontman Peter Sinclair (C’mon, Happen Inn) took over a year later and remained with the series until it ended in 1989. Otago produced the most champion teams — winning on six occasions (followed by Canterbury who won three times); and members of winning teams included musician Bruce Russell, writer Jolisa Gracewood and MP Charles Chauvel.
The Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the mid 60s through to the 90s. The show was organised by Josephine Brody, with a TV version screening later. Model turned agent Maysie Bestall-Cohen organised the ‘B&H’ from 1982. An early 80s screen hiatus ended with TVNZ screening a live-to-air show from 1984 to 1998 — the Michael Fowler Centre event was one of its biggest outside broadcasts. In the later 90s the show was known as the Smokefree Fashion Design Awards (after tobacco company sponsorships were outlawed).