Newsreader, Reporter [Ngāti Kahungunu]
TV3 news anchor Mike McRoberts spent a decade as a radio reporter, then made his name as a sports journalist with TVNZ in the mid 90s. After six years with the state broadcaster, including occasional shifts reading the primetime news, he moved to TV3. From 2005, he joined Hilary Barry leading the 6pm news bulletin. Since then he has presented reports and bulletins from Christchurch, Iraq, Haiti and the Philippines.
I find it extraordinary to suggest that we shouldn’t be sending our own people to cover the world’s biggest stories. We’re not American and we’re not British, and in so many conflicts in the past 10 years we’ve had quite different thoughts about those conflicts. Mike McRoberts in a 2010 Scoop interview with Nicolas Jones
Big hair, big shoulder pads and big earrings feature in this video celebrating Three’s 30th birthday. On 26 November 1989, TV3 — the first privately owned TV channel in New Zealand — transmitted from its Auckland studios for the first time. The promo opens with fresh-faced news reporters/presenters hamming it up for the camera, including Joanna Paul, Eric Young and Genevieve Westcott. The rest of the clip celebrates Three's successes (Outrageous Fortune, bro’Town, 7 Days) and takes a light-hearted look at its failings, revisiting times it went into receivership.
These clips offer up a selection of Kiwi news bloopers. First, Sacha McNeil presents a retrospective of unscripted moments from TV3’s first 25 years of news: newsreaders sneeze and laugh, and reporters face rogue weather, animals, dance routines, and lashings of champagne from Olympic champions. Then presenter Hilary Barry laughs at inappropriate moments on The Paul Henry Show: she starts an extended battle with the giggles while mentioning All Black Waisake Naholo’s broken leg (2015). In 2016 she succumbs to laughter over an emergency defecation situation.
Bill Dobson was one of around 500 New Zealanders to be taken prisoner by the Germans during World War I. His grandsons, filmmakers Grant and Bryce Campbell, use Dobson’s letters home, his sketch book and contemporary photographs to describe his journey. Bill was one of 210 Kiwis captured at French village Méteren, near the Belgian border, during Germany’s 1918 Spring Offensive. Camp conditions were tough, but Dobson filled his time with prolific sketching and performing in the Camp Concert Party. Post-war, Dobson married vaudeville performer Louise Morris.
Christchurch-born Jessie Scott was a rarity in 1914: a qualified doctor in a male dominated profession. But as this Great War Story shows, her bravery overcame even greater hurdles. Joining the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, Dr Scott treated Serbian and British wounded in the Balkan war against Austria. Left behind during a retreat, she was captured but later released. That didn’t end her war. She went back to the front line, this time serving with Russian forces in Romania. Dr Scott's efforts earned her the Serbian Order of St Sava.
When 150 Niuean men were shipped off to Auckland en route to the Western Front, they had no idea what lay ahead. This Great War Story features the granddaughter of one of them, and the historian who researched his journey. Falaoa Tosene was “volunteered” to the NZ Māori Pioneer Battalion as a labourer. Unfamiliar food, uniforms and boots for men who had never worn shoes were the first shocks. In France, they faced freezing temperatures and disease. Tosene was hospitalised with trench foot. He survived, thanks to a former missionary, but 30 of his comrades died.
Harry Varnham was scarred both physically and mentally by his experience of World War One. In this episode of Great War Stories, his family explain why they believe the trauma of war eventually led him to take his own life decades later. Wounded during the Battle of Messines in Belgium, Varnham returned to the front and was seriously wounded again at Le Quesnoy. He was evacuated to London; he was just 19 when his leg was amputated. Back in New Zealand, Varnham married later in life and had two daughters, but he never overcame the mental scars from his time serving in WWI.
Rizk Alexander found himself in a rare situation during WWI — he was an Ottoman subject who chose to fight for the British Empire. His brief life still holds a fascination for his descendants. From a Syrian Christian family, Alexander had only been in New Zealand three years, when the 17-year-old signed up for war. Hoping to fight the Turkish Ottomans, he instead ended up on the Western Front, proving himself at the Battle of Messines in 1917. Later gassed, Alexander returned to Wellington to recuperate but he never fully recovered, dying in 1924. He was 27.
Captain Thomas Blake was one of about 40 veterinarians to serve New Zealand in the First World War. He accompanied some of the 10,000 Kiwi farm horses sent to the frontlines in the Middle East and, later France. They faced terrible conditions: sand and heat in Sinai, mud and rain in France, and suffered disease and horrific wounds. This Great War Stories episode explores the tight bond between horse and soldier. In the end, only four horses came home. Blake also made history: while in Egypt, he became the first Kiwi to marry while the troops were on active service.
For Kiwi-Chinese soldier Victor Low, World War I was fought mainly underground. Dunedin-born Low was a surveyor attached to the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, which created a network of caverns and tunnels in France before the Battle of Arras in April 1917. The complex was big enough to accommodate 12,000 soldiers and equipment. This episode of Great War Stories uses archive footage and modern laser scanning to map out the tunnels that still exist under the battlefield. Later, Low helped create the famous Bulford Kiwi which sits above Sling Camp in England.
Hilary Barry was in her early 20s when she began reporting for TV3 in 1993. Twenty-three years later she left the network, after more than a decade co-presenting its prime time bulletin. In this excerpt from her last TV3 bulletin, newsreader Mike McRoberts gives an emotional farewell speech. A best of Barry video package shows her drinking a Spam smoothie for an early story, laughing about an "emergency defecation situation", and reporting from Christchurch and South Africa. Barry later spoke of leaving TV3 after many close colleagues had left the network.
He Toki Huna sets out to provide an independent overview of New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan (the longest overseas war in which NZ has played a role). The documentary follows writer Jon Stephenson conducting eyewitness interviews in Afghanistan, and poses tough questions about the involvement of Kiwi troops in a conflict that co-director Kay Ellmers calls an “ill-defined war against an unclear” enemy. Ellmers and Annie Goldson made the Moa Award-winning film for Māori Television. An extended cut played at the 2013 NZ International Film Festival.
Based on a UK reality format, Dancing with the Stars sees a line-up of celebrities paired with a professional dance partner, and put through ballroom dance routines. Judges and a public vote eliminate a pair each week. A five time winner of best programme in its category, the show played for five hit seasons on TVNZ, hosted by Jason Gunn and Candy Lane. In 2015 it was relaunched by Great Southern TV for TV3; Dominic Bowden and Sharyn Casey hosted. Dai Henwood and Casey presented the seventh series in 2018. Winners have included Norm Hewitt and and Suzanne Paul.
American current affairs format 20/20 was first introduced to New Zealand on TV3 in 1993, where it screened for a decade. In 2005 it moved to TVNZ, and became TV2’s signature current affairs show. The hour-long slot mixed content taken from the ABC-produced American show, with award-winning local stories; local subjects ranged from infanticide to Nicky Watson. The first host was Louise Wallace, then at TVNZ it was Miriama Kamo, and from 2011, Sonya Wilson. In 2014 local content ceased being made for 20/20. Two years later it moved to TV One, with Carolyn Robinson hosting.
Independent channel TV3 launched its prime time bulletin on 27 November 1989. The flagship 6pm bulletin — originally called 3 National News — was anchored by ex state TV legend Philip Sherry, with Greg Clark handling sports. Sherry was replaced by Joanna Paul, then another ex TVNZ anchor, John Hawkesby. A 1998 revamp saw Carol Hirschfeld and John Campbell take on dual anchor roles. Their move to Campbell Live in 2005 opened the doors for a decade-long run by Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts. In 2016 Mediaworks rebranded its news service — and the slot — as Newshub.
Holmes was a long-running current affairs programme that followed the news each weeknight on TV ONE. Presented by veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes, the show was as famous for his showmanship as it was for examining the issues of the day. Holmes interviewed the day's newsmakers; often championing the underdog 'kiwi battler'. In 2004 Paul Holmes defected from TVNZ to Prime TV to set up a rival 7pm current affairs programme, Paul Holmes. That lasted a few months before being axed (due to low ratings).
In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.