Melanie Rakena partnered with Jane Andrews in 2002 to create JAM TV, who specialise in popular factual television, much of it involving travel. JAM programmes such as Intrepid Journeys, Off The Rails and Global Radar have managed to achieve both popular and critical acclaim.
I'm very glad I didn't listen to the careers officer at Temuka High School who told me to go and work at the bank. Melanie Rakena
This 16 episode, 30 minute series from Jam TV (This Town, Intrepid Journeys) gave “courageous, honest, heroic and inspirational Kiwis a chance to tell their tale.” Subjects ranged from broadcaster Mark Staufer to Christchurch Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson, Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, and Northland doctor Lance O’Sullivan. The first episode explored irrepressible former C4 presenter Helena McAlpine’s experiences with terminal breast cancer. Listener critic Diana Wichtel praised the TVNZ show as “an increasingly vital corrective to the rest of prime time".
Acclaimed TV series This Town travelled all over Aotearoa to meet the characters that make up Kiwi communities. The show dispensed with presenters or voiceovers, in favour of allowing "people to open up to us and tell us their stories" (as producer Melanie Rakena put it). Made by Jam TV, This Town screened in a Saturday 7.30pm slot on TV One. A second season followed in 2015. In The NZ Herald, Duncan Greive said of the second series: "it feels like some of the most authentic New Zealand television of the year, stories told with as minimal a mediation as possible."
The first episode of Jam TV’s 2013 series on inspirational Kiwis follows Helena McAlpine’s journey as she deals with terminal breast cancer. The ebullient spirit of the ex-C4 presenter permeates the episode, as she talks about her mental health struggles, her bucket list, living in the fast lane, fishing with mate Clarke Gayford, leaving her daughter without a mum, advocacy work for cancer awareness campaigns, and the ‘McAlpine theory on life’ — choose to be happy. "I really don’t see myself as a sack of sadness". McAlpine died on 23 September 2015.
In 2001 Meng Foon was the only serving New Zealand mayor to speak fluent Māori and Cantonese — and that was still the case when this documentary was made in 2013. Foon campaigns for a fifth term as mayor of Gisborne, appearing on local radio shows, door knocking and travelling long distances to connect with locals in small towns. Foon and his family talk about their Chinese heritage, and Foon reveals a lesser-known musical talent. Foon cultivated a deep relationship with the large Māori community in the Tairāwhiti district. In 2019 he resigned after 18 years as mayor.
This acclaimed TV series heads to Aotearoa’s heartland, dispensing with narration or a city slicker presenter so that local personalities can represent themselves. The opening episode travels to the West Coast to meet the 'Coasters' who live there: from publicans, prospectors and bushmen, to sheila truck drivers, knitting drag queens and musical theatre directors. The Dominion Post’s Karl du Fresne wrote of the show: "Producer Melanie Rakena has done a superb job seeking out engaging characters with interesting stories and allowing them to tell them in their own way."
This 2011 TV One series sees wry but winning host Marcus Lush explore the North Island from Auckland up. Jafa Lush said his motivations were to "see where I was from, what I liked and didn't like and what had changed." The Herald’s Deborah Hill Cone praised the show for its "gorgeous" cinematography (by Jacob Bryant), and for making everyday Kiwi characters look "otherworldly and cinematic and heroic". The series was another successful collaboration between JAM TV and host Marcus Lush, adding to Off the Rails, ICE, and lauded 2009 sister series South.
When Mount Tarawera erupted on 10 June 1886, it took over 100 lives. It was also thought to have destroyed the Pink and White Terraces on Lake Rotomahana, then hailed as the eighth wonder of the natural world. This documentary follows a team of New Zealand and American scientists — led by Kiwi geologist Cornel de Ronde — as they scour the lake floor, to see if any traces of the legendary structures remain. Also examined are the area's history, and the lead-up to the eruption. In 2018 de Ronde robustly criticised a theory that the remains of the terraces were now partly on land.
This 2011 series has idiosyncratic host Marcus Lush roving over the northern tip of the North Island (from Auckland up). The first episode finds the self-confessed Jafa exploring all things Manukau Harbour: “this is something I’ve always wanted to do – arrive in Auckland by ship!”. Lush meets lighthouse lovers, learns about shipwrecks and World War II Japanese subs, goes shark tagging, travels by waka to a small island, and talks Mangere Bridge with comedian Jon Gadsby. North was the follow-up to JAM TV’s award-winning 2009 series South, also fronted by Lush.
The opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television travels from an opening night puppet show in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ On Air, Sky and Māori Television). Many of the major players are interviewed. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within the story.
When TV began in New Zealand in 1960, posh English accents on screen were de rigueur. As veteran broadcaster Judy Callingham recalls in this sixth episode of Kiwi TV history: "every trace of a New Zealand vowel was knocked out of you." But as ties to Mother England weakened, Kiwis began to feel proud of their identity and culture. John Clarke invented farming comedy legend Fred Dagg, while Karyn Hay showed a Kiwi accent could be cool on Radio with Pictures. Sam Neill and director Geoff Murphy add their thoughts on the changing ways that Kiwis saw themselves.
This Intrepid Journey sees comedian Rhys Darby taking a Rwandan OE. In the excerpts Darby makes lots of friends in the markets of capital city Kigali, then heads on a jungle adventure. Far from the New York office of his Flight of the Conchords character Murray, he searches for critically endangered mountain gorillas. Darby is guided by François — a personable and entertaining park ranger, fluent in primate dialect — whose aping gives Darby a run for his money in gorilla impersonation. Darby is quietened by a sombre genocide memorial, and a 200 kilogram silverback.
Following award-winning and high rating collaborations exploring trains (Off the Rails) and Antarctica (ICE), Jam TV reteamed with presenter Marcus Lush to explore the southern tip of the South Island. Over seven 30 minute episodes, the Bluff-based Aucklander mixed wry observation and self-deprecation with clear affection for the stories, wildlife, geography and characters of his (then) adopted hometown, and its environs. At the 2010 Qantas Television Awards, Lush won Best Presenter and Melanie Rakena won Best Director – Entertainment / Factual.
Host Marcus Lush called this 2009 series a "love letter" to the characters and stories of the south. In this first episode he sleeps over on Dog Island (where he learns a lighthouse doesn’t have curved beds). Then it’s down to Stewart Island to join "Robin’s teepee cult" and meet Mason Bay whānau, and back to the Aucklander's adopted hometown of Bluff to chat with artistic beachcombers. South continued JAM TV’s winning collaboration with Lush (Off the Rails, ICE). At the 2010 Qantas Awards, the series collected gongs for best presenter and for director Melanie Rakena.
Veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes brings his trademark stream of introspection and acerbic wit to the ancient cultures of Yemen in the Middle East. Holmes gets a lot of mileage from the country’s many curiosities: soldiers on patrol holding hands; the high volume manner of daily conversation and the ubiquitous Khat, a chewing plant known for its amphetamine-like effects. This excerpt sees him changing into an outfit that has more in common with the locals, and suddenly feeling much more welcome than before.
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.
Comedian Te Radar is a natural for Intrepid Journeys - his own TV sojourns have already taken him to Palestine and East Timor. In this episode Radar travels through the landlocked African nation of Mali, much of which lies in the Sahara. On his way to the legendary city of Timbuktu he visits a festival in the desert, has a close encounter with a baby scorpion and grooves to the local drumming. Along the way, cameraman Bevan Crothers captures eye-opening imagery of brightly clothed locals and a lime-clad Te Radar, against sunlicked desert sands.
Going further off the rails and further south, idiosyncratic TV host Marcus Lush continued his ratings-winning collaboration with Jam TV in this five-part series about the history, environment and wildlife of Antarctica. The show also investigates and celebrates New Zealand's many connections with Antarctica, from involvement in the historic quests of Scott and Amundsen, to continuing ties with Scott base on Ross Island, where Lush spends Christmas with the community of long-term residents.
Idiosyncratic TV host Marcus Lush — continuing his ratings-winning collaboration with Jam TV — goes further off the rails and further south in this five-part series about the history, environment and wildlife of Antarctica. In this short excerpt Lush disrobes for the camera to experience a Scott Base three-minute shower. He also interviews the Curator of Antarctic History at Canterbury Museum who contextualises Captain Scott's 1912 expedition to the Pole that departed from Lyttelton harbour as being "very similar to blasting off to the moon from Hagley Park".
Media satirist Jeremy Wells travels through Libya and coments on what he sees with his trademark impassive delivery. He dresses in traditional male garb, takes in Tripoli's ancient medina, dines in traditional Berber settlements, and journeys through the Jebel Nafusa highlands. On the way Wells rides an angry camel, complains about the lack of women, holds hands with a man, and recounts Colonel Gaddafi trivia, musing with deadpan gormlessness, "he must be nice because nobody seems to have a bad word to say about him."
Anton Oliver, the thinking person's All Black, travels to Nepal to experience the Annapurna Sanctury and walk the famous Annapurna Circuit. Oliver is the ideal candidate for a journey that requires fitness of body and soul. In this particularly intrepid journey, Oliver's experiences range from poverty and pollution to the heights of ancient Himalayan trekking routes. Oliver hooks [sic] the viewer into the places he visits with insightful and entertaining meditations on the unique culture and environment.
Trainspotter Marcus Lush trades the Raurimu Spiral for Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway where he is served peas in oil. He takes in a vast country wrestling off shackles of communism, where beer drinking on buses on the way to work equates with capitalist freedom. He visits Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok, and inbetween discovers that much of Russia still follows traditional customs: emphasising respect, sharing food, drink and ciggies; and he concludes: "I'd rather be a peasant in Russia than live in a trailer park in Detroit."
After floods swept through the Bay of Plenty town of Matatā in May 2005, musician Dave Dobbyn decided to drop by and see how the locals were doing. One Night in Matata is built around a free concert which Dobbyn and his band performed during the visit. Also included are conversations with townspeople, about the day heavy rains caused torrents of water and debris to sweep through Matatā. Dobbyn remains upbeat, praising the locals for their kindness and community spirit. Later some of the local children join him on stage for 'Slice of Heaven'.
Radio veteran Kim Hill finds herself among the politics, cigar smoke and dancing in Cuba, in this episode of the long-running travel show. During a 15-day visit, a series of seemingly random encounters take her off the beaten track to Hoodoo ceremonies, the Bay of Pigs and the sad spectacle of Guantanamo Bay. Hill conveys a textured perspective on life in Castro's Republic, and calls it "a strange mixture of Soviet style communism and Latin American hedonism".
Musician, DJ and accomplished sailor Andrew Fagan heads to Indonesia with guitar in hand — plus some miniature sail boats. The trip includes an active volcano, a dodgy riverboat, the peaceful vibe of an Islamic festival, and some catchy Fagan tunes. The result is a standout episode, thanks partly to an enthusiastic and straight-talking host: a man who makes the most of each moment, without turning his head away from the realities of poverty, or the after-effects of terrorist bombing. Warning: animal lovers may want to avoid certain scenes.
In this full-length episode, Lisa Chappell travels to Malaysia at the edge of South East Asia, and starts to wonder if she might be an inside-at-home, rather than intrepid, traveller. The geographically-impaired, self-confessed snake-phobic actor journeys into one of the world's oldest rain-forests, meets the nomadic Orang Asli people and enjoys a walk, 45 metres above the forest-floor. Things go downhill when she injures her back on a boat trip and tries to finish the trip early, before rediscovering the travel bug, shortly before flying out of Kuala Lumpur.
In this full-length episode of Intrepid Journeys, Dave Dobbyn arrives in the Kingdom of Morocco, and finds himself bowled over by the sites, sounds, the sense of living history, the friendly people — and the sugar-heavy local tea. Uplifted to heights both spiritual and comedic, he wanders the world's largest medieval city, in Fez; visits Hassan ll Mosque in Casablanca, one of the world's largest, and finds himself donning a British accent as he starts a camel trek in the Sahara. From Casablanca to Marrakesh, the journey offers Dobbyn a sense of delight and creative renewal.
While Rawiri Paratene was directing TV's Korero Mai, conversation turned to Intrepid Journeys, and he mentioned offhandedly that he'd love to be a presenter. At the end of the day Paratene got an urgent message to call his agent: the Intrepid producers wanted him to guide an episode. Weeks later he found himself in Nicaragua, engaging with the people, places and troubled history of the country. But as this excerpt shows, it is the children who will live on in his memory. Paratene proves himself a generous host, revealing something of himself as much as Nicaragua.
Playwright Roger Hall visits Uganda in Africa for this Intrepid Journey. He finds the going tough at times, particularly some rough accommodation and worries about malaria, but delights that he got to see lions and gorillas in their natural habitat, and is moved by the efforts of the Ugandan people to triumph over their "hideous recent history". This excerpt sees Hall white water rafting on the Nile, and getting a memorable warning speech about one of the rapids by a guide. He "loses his Nile virginity" after getting tipped out, and ending up under the raft for a few scary seconds.
Marcus Lush travels from the vast Kaingaroa Forest to New Zealand's busiest rail junction (at Hamilton), in this instalment of his popular show about the country's railways. Along the way, he meets a legless train accident survivor turned motivational speaker; potter Barry Brickell and his 3km narrow gauge railway at Driving Creek in the Coromandel; and a collector with more than 2,700 rail related items. There's also a visit to Waihi. Transformed into a boomtown by gold and rail in the 1870s, it was home to the might and power of the Victoria stamper battery.
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt ventures into the wilds of Borneo for this full-length Intrepid Journeys episode. His time in the jungles of Malaysia's Sabah region proves to be both beautiful and frightening; his sleeping arrangements are "pure unadulterated hell". After pushing himself to the limit climbing Mount Kinabalu and encountering a lethal pit viper snake, Shadbolt is moved by visits to sea turtles on Turtle Island, and the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok. Orangutans are endangered in the area because they are losing their forest habitat to palm oil plantations.
Kerre McIvor (then Kerre Woodham) hits Cambodia in this full-length Intrepid Journey. After sampling Vietcong tunnels in Vietnam, the self-confessed lover of home comforts crosses the border and confronts Cambodia's rough roads. Feeling guilty about complaining in a country that has endured so much, she is moved by the strong and joyful spirit of the people: 'they don't need pity, they just need a break.' Woodham visits former Khmer Rouge prison S21, makes a friend at "the Queen of Cambodian ruins", Angkor Wat, and has a memorable visit to an isolated, decaying French hotel.
In this full-length Intrepid Journey actor/director Katie Wolfe takes her "appalling sense of direction" to China, a country caught between old ways and new. Wolfe travels by plane, boat, cyclo and train, which she calls "the perfect way to travel". She does three days in the Blade Runner-like cityscapes of Shanghai, where she meets an 86-year-old dancer, and visits the Forbidden City of Beijing. Wolfe also heads up the Yangtze River, visiting ghostly cities and apartment blocks, drained of people by major dam construction — before stumbling upon a most effective way to haggle.
Broadcaster Karyn Hay makes a "life enhancing" journey to 'Timor-Leste', not long after the withdrawal of United Nations Peacekeepers. Hay reads up on its war-riddled past and encounters mozzies and leaky boats, eats buffalo and snow-peas, and learns about the widows and guerilla fighters who resisted Indonesian occupation. She is transported beyond the troubles to wonder at ancient cave paintings, bathe in turquoise waters, and reflect on charming children — and her hope that eco-tourism will offer a better life for a nation she senses is still "in shock".
Whanganui Mayor and radio host Michael Laws visits Ecuador in South America for this Intrepid Journey. He is challenged by the tough travel conditions, and moved by the poor and difficult lives of the locals, but also manages to have some fun learning to salsa dance (this was before his Dancing with the Stars training); trying on panama hats (which, contrary to their name, originated in Ecuador); and shopping. In the city of Cuenca, Laws is surprised to find the presence of armed guards and police everywhere makes him feel safer than usual.
On a two week journey through India, Pio Terei discovers that if you want to relax, you should probably visit another country entirely. From Delhi to the deserts of Rajasthan, this full-length episode sees him trying every mode of transport — including tuk tuk, camel, elephant, motorcycle and train. Along the way he floats up the sacred Ganges River, visits the Taj Mahal, buys a Pashmina shawl for his wife, and eats a meal cooked in a dung oven, traditional-Rajasthani style. He also greets a great many locals, and remains upbeat despite the challenges of travelling in a very different culture.
Changing Rooms star Donald Grant Sunderland visits Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for this episode of Intrepid Journeys. This excerpt features the Mexican town of Merida, where the TV interior designer is impressed with the architecture and design of his guest house, which dates back to the 1600s. Sunderland also goes shopping for food at a street market, where he samples tamales and cactus fruit (apparently with some ill effects later in the journey). Sunderland also visits the beautiful Uxmal Temples, Mayan ruins dating from 600 BC.
Hugh Sundae travels to the world's second-largest landlocked country: Mongolia. Normally unenthusiastic about travel or partaking in foods doused in yak butter, Sundae discovers that the presence of a camera adds courage to his journey. The courage proves helpful while sharing accommodation and food in a series of gers (also known as yurts) — portable houses used by the nomads of Central Asia. Sundae's trip includes camels, wrestling, Mongolian throat singing — plus trying to survive a meal made from sour milk and curd, without causing offense.
Jon Gadsby visits Myanmar (formerly Burma) and discovers an achingly beautiful country. But behind endless golden temples and scenes from Kipling, Gadsby finds "a place of contradiction" where many live in abject poverty, controlled absolutely by their military government (most famously the ongoing house arrest of democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi). When Gadsby visits, it is not a country to be travelled to lightly. He finds the locals to be open and willing to play host; yet he is struck overall by their "sad beauty".
In the show's first visit to Nepal, Shortland Street actor Craig Parker sets off backpacking for the very first time, armed with good advice - to switch off the judgmental Western part of his mind. His destination is a country on the slopes of the Himalayas: half the size of New Zealand, home to 20 languages and 24 million people. Along the way Parker experiences a limb-stretching Nepalese barber, witnesses the funeral pyres at a Hindu temple, and tramps along the Helambu trek, which takes him to the same altitude as Aoraki-Mount Cook.
In Peru, beauty and poverty go hand in hand. Westie comedian Ewen Gilmour begins his Peruvian journey in Lima, the capital - which he describes as a "sprawling, largely chaotic urban mess". Locals offer drugs and warn of muggers, but there are lighter moments when Gilmour entertains an enthusiastic audience in the city's historic centre, despite speaking only un poco Español. Later the former stonemason is impressed by the precision stonework in the ancient hilltop city of Machu Picchu, and visits locals who live on floating islands of reeds, on Lake Titicaca.
Actor Danielle Cormack travels through Jordan and Syria, and discovers a different reality from western perceptions of the Middle East. Cormack engages with countries awash with ancient history, warm people and picturesque vistas. Highlights of Cormack's trip include visiting the natural wonders of the Dead Sea and the desert valley of Wadi Rum. She stays in a Bedouin tent, and witnesses the man-made spectacles of Petra — the ancient rose city carved out of stone — Roman amphitheatres, and the Crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers.
In this full-length Intrepid Journey, Paul Henry brings his straight-talking style to Tibet. Entering Tibet after three days in Kathmandu, Henry encounters dodgy plumbing and the occasional surveillance camera, though he finds a certain romance in the dirt. Henry makes no effort to hide his feelings on yak butter tea, fights altitude sickness en route to Mount Everest base camp, and visits Potala Palace — ex home to the Dalai Lama, now "a mausoleum to old Tibet". For Henry, now is the best time to visit, because "Tibet is being snuffed out. This is just going to be another corner of China."
Robyn Malcolm is the well-known Kiwi, and Vietnam is the far-flung place in this full-length Intrepid Journey. Writes Malcolm in her diary: "I expect to be enchanted, challenged and scared several times a day." If drinking snake wine, taking a pee in a corn field and witnessing the ceremonial sacrifice of a pig fits the bill, her expectations are fulfilled. Although some of the homestays are lacking in mod cons, Malcolm is glad for the experience. She also talks to Jimmy Pham, who runs the Koto cafe which trains street kids, visits the DMZ, and falls in love with the ex port town of Hoi An.
Marcus Lush goes "right up the guts" of the North Island from Wairarapa to Gisborne, in this episode of his award-winning romance with New Zealand's railways. He meets railcar restorers and recounts the murders by rail porter Rowland Edwards in 1884. Particular praise is reserved for the "spectacular and beautiful" Napier to Gisborne line (now mothballed) with its viaducts at Mohaka and Kopuawhara. The latter is on the site of a flash flood that killed 21 workers in 1938; it inspires an idiosyncratic Lush demonstration of Aotearoa's then 10 worst disasters.
Peta Mathias gets off the plane at La Paz, Bolivia — and the world's — highest airport. She steps straight into poverty, altitude sickness, stunning scenery and likable people. Her Bolivian experience includes sub-zero temperatures, uninspiring food and the infamous mining town of Potosi. But as she writes in her diary, adventure travel means, "no skidding over the surfaces, no observing through Prada sunglasses, no shirking from the reality of the culture. In that sense the journey is unforgettable because it's so intense and puts you right up against the wall."
Before he went Off the Rails Marcus Lush went off the beaten track to Egypt. He takes on a camel and donkey, drifts down The Nile aboard a felucca, samples the local fast food and deals with a dose of ‘Nile Belly'. Ancient treasures and stunning desert landscapes don't hide a more problematic recent history. But the warmth of the locals - Muslim or Christian - makes Lush a convert. When Lush tries the local Cairo barber he loses some eyelashes ("when in Rome") but nevertheless finds the whole Egypt experience to be an "eye opener."
"I've never really travelled much, let alone somewhere as challenging as Kenya." Actor and paraglider Peter Elliott lands in Nairobi, and is overwhelmed after meeting inhabitants of a massive slum on the edge of the city. Then he sets off on safari across Kenya, visiting an orphanage for young elephants, camping near crocodile-infested rivers, and spying all kinds of wildlife, all the while dealing with an unfortunate run of the runs. Elliott also gets to meet the inhabitants of a Maasai village. He feels better for the whole experience.
In this tribute to veteran broadcaster Angela D'Audney — broadcast soon after her death in 2002 — colleagues and friends recall her tenacity and confidence. After nearly 40 years working in television, D'Audney earned the title of New Zealand's "first lady of broadcasting". D'Audney was 18 when she joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as an announcer in 1962; she went onto become one of the country's first female TV newsreaders. She recalls losing jobs, the thrill of reading live news and the scandal she faced when she appeared topless in 1982 TV drama The Venus Touch.
This is the first of a six-part TVNZ series which follows seven couples from antenatal classes to the reality of childbirth and parenthood. Along the way they share their hopes and fears as they await the arrival of their first born. This episode focuses on antenatal classes, decisions that have to be made and practical adjustments, including jobs and budgeting. The fathers-to-be provide some of the most humorous lines, mostly displaying their naivety (one looks forward to the chance to "laze back a bit"). But all the participants show an honesty that makes for fascinating viewing.
This documentary uses archive footage and interviews to tell the story of motor-racing legends Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, and Chris Amon. The trio topped podiums in the sport's 'golden age' — one of those eras when unlikely Kiwi talent managed to dominate a truly global sport. The Team McLaren racing team that four times Grand Prix winner Bruce McLaren founded in 1966, has been the most successful in Formula One. That same year McLaren and Amon teamed up to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in 1967 Hulme was Formula One world champion.
Hosted by Maggie Barry, with ‘bug man’ Ruud Kleinpaste, Bill Ward, Jack Hobbs and Professor John Walker, the popular TV One gardening series Maggie's Garden Show (originally Palmers Garden Show) ran from 1991 to 2003. The Ellerslie Flower Show was a highlight of the production year and the subject of an annual special. This programme features the annual Ellerslie show in 2000. Barry and the team check out the outdoor gardens section, floral design, garden design and garden makeover marquees. A model of Gondwanaland in the Discovery Marquee is a highlight.
In each episode of this garden makeover show, Jim Mora and the Mucking In team rallied together locals to reward a community hero with a surprise garden. The long-running format was described by TV reviewer Trevor Agnew as "the caring face of reality TV". It won Best Lifestyle Programme at the 2004 Qantas Media Awards, and spawned a tie-in book in its final year. Said Mora: "You met the best people in New Zealand and all their nice mates. It was probably the nicest thing that anyone in television would ever have the chance to do."
This 1998 TV series marked the screen debut of Kiwi chef Jo Seagar. Seagar had attracted notice with her bestselling 1997 recipe book You Shouldn't Have Gone To So Much Trouble, Darling. The goal of the first episode of the 13-part series is to “take the angst out of entertaining”. Some of Seagar’s “short cuts and clever little tricks and tips” include doubling up on pastry trays, and being stingy with the caviar (“if you use a whole lot they don’t think it’s real”). She also applies her nursing training to bandaging chicken breasts.