Zara Potts' first foray into broadcasting didn't take a stock standard route — she was an impersonator on radio in Christchurch, copying the voices of famous people. Her first television gig came in 1997, reporting for Southern TV in Dunedin, before moving back to her hometown of Christchurch to report and produce for Breakfast. Potts went on to report for One News until roughly 2004 when she moved into public relations. She has continued to work in the media, researching and writing for documentary New Zealand Stories, and producing for TV3 and Radio NZ. These days Potts is the publicist for NZ On Screen.
Working in this industry is not without its challenges, but the most wonderful thing about it is the people you meet and the stories you get to tell along the way. It inspires me to look at the world with a different eye and see beauty and struggle alike, and try to capture a little of its essence in my own work. Zara Potts, on working in public relations and the media industry
Since 2009, the contribution of 7 Days to the Kiwi comedy scene has been enormous. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, former executive producer Jon Bridges traces the show's history back to a group of comedians deciding to film a pilot in TV3's basement. Since then the irreverent, topical panel show has become a Friday night staple. To the comedians and writers, it's a vital place to hone skills and build a career. Host Jeremy Corbett argues that the key to 7 Days' success is relatability: Kiwi audiences feel like they can 'join in' the conversation— and the insults.
A who's who of Kiwi television names reminisce about iconic comedian Billy T James in this short video, celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Jemaine Clement, Oscar Kightley and Hilary Barry are among those describing Billy T as a national treasure, mischievous and cheeky, while friend Peter Rowley recalls the day he died. Billy T was already a household name by the time NZ On Air was created: an NZOA-funded sitcom and a celebration showcase allowed Kiwis to see him as much more than a comedian. He inspired many comedians, and left a legacy of brilliant moments.
From its impressive cinematography, to its broad range of stories and characters, Country Calendar reflects the backbone of New Zealand culture. The country's longest-running television show still tops the NZ On Air Top 10 most weeks. TV producer Jon Bridges, Governor-General Patsy Reddy and broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi are among those reflecting on the show’s importance, in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. TVNZ executive Andrew Shaw provides 'The Inside Story', and muses on how the show really belongs to all New Zealanders.
Politician Paula Bennett proudly proclaims her West Auckland roots in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Bennett talks about how hit show Outrageous Fortune was important in helping Kiwis reclaim pride in being a bogan — and a Westie. She also praises the show's strong yet vulnerable matriarch Cheryl West. Robyn Malcolm, who played Cheryl, remembers early days in the role, before Outrageous Fortune became "the show where New Zealanders fell in love with themselves". Outside of Shortland Street, it became part of the country's longest-running drama franchise.
Where would New Zealand culture be without our own music? In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Mike Chunn (founder of the Play It Strange Trust) describes the 2007 documentary series that followed a group of promising teenage songwriters as they honed their compositions — with help from Play It Strange judges and mentors like Jordan Luck. Chunn is overcome with emotion as he describes the feedback he receives from parents of those involved with the programme, while Luck feels "honoured" to have worked with young musical talent.
Getting its start thanks to three years of NZ On Air funding, ‘Shorty Street’ has grown to become not only a commercial success, but an important training ground for many actors, writers and crew. Generations have grown up watching storylines and characters they can relate to. In this interview to celebrate NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the impact of the show, and its importance to New Zealand culture. Actor John 'Lionel Skeggins' Leigh recalls the early days of working on the street, and the many adventures his character faced.
As part of a series marking NZ On Air's 30th birthday, this video looks back at Bic Runga song 'Suddenly Strange'. It was released in 1997, when music videos were crucial to an artist finding an audience, and when NZ music was still finding its unique voice. Fashion designer Kate Sylvester reflects that the video "captures an amazing time" of creativity in Kiwi culture. Her partner, Wayne Conway, who directed the video, talks about how Runga's stripped-back music paralleled 1990s trends in NZ fashion; and Bic Runga talks about how, for a musician, videos always involve "a leap of faith".
At a time when Pasifika people were rarely seen on-screen, Tagata Pasifika was a bastion of Pacific stories. For Oscar Kightley, it was "more than just a TV programme" — it meant on-screen representation for his Pasifika community. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Kightley also recalls how impressed his mum was with presenter Susana Hukui's "impeccable" dress sense. Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer Stephen Stehlin talks about working on one of Aotearoa's longest-running series, and the importance of presenting stories about our all-important "front yard".
Documentary series The New Zealand Wars reframed Kiwi history. Researched and presented by historian James Belich, it examined armed conflict between Māori and Pākehā. The show gripped the country when it screened in 1998— including Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, she recalls how the show changed her perception: "I thought I knew New Zealand history, and I didn't." Director Tainui Stephens talks about how the series provided a Māori perspective mixed with "intellectual Pākehā rigour" and "a lot of aroha".
Thanks to NZ On Air's support, The X Factor gave New Zealand performers a primetime platform, created excitement and controversy and drew huge, committed audiences. Former Olympian Barbara Kendall explains why she enjoyed the Kiwi version of the show so much, and why one contestant in particular caught her attention. Then X Factor executive producer Andrew Szusterman shares how this "massive, massive show" came to New Zealand, and celebrates the distinct, Kiwi flavour it took on — one example being Stan Walker's judging style.
Television presenter Hilary Barry praises whacky and "so dry" comedy series Wellington Paranormal in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Barry talks about how the spin-off from What We Do In The Shadows is so different and understated that viewers tuning into halfway through could easily get confused. Writer/producer Paul Yates talks about rising respect for Kiwi comedy and how much of the show is ad-libbed, while Barry laughs about the great relationship between police officers O'Leary (Karen O'Leary) and Minogue (Mike Minogue).
Since 1981, generations of tamariki have grown up with What Now?’s weekend shenanigans. Who didn’t want to be gunged? The show's other magic ingredients are the kids of Aotearoa, and a series of young hosts who know how to have fun. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, politician Kris Faafoi talks about watching the show while getting ready for Saturday morning sports. Faafoi's brother Jason was a What Now? presenter. Meanwhile former host Simon Barnett discusses his first day on the job (he was 21) — and how much he loved working on the iconic series.
This series of 25 half-hour documentaries for TV One explored diversity in New Zealand and beyond, including across ethnicity, gender and religion. Among the locations are quake-ravaged Christchurch, New Plymouth's Womad festival, a firefighters’ contest in Australia and slums in Manila. Subjects include a Malaysian-born plastic surgeon, Wellington 'Supergrans' helping council tenants, a prison choir, a Burmese expatriate awaiting heart surgery and a Sudanese artist. Three production companies contributed episodes: Pacific Screen, Melting Pot, and Paua Productions.
Breakfast first aired in August 1997 on TV One. Screening five mornings a week over a three hour time slot, the programme mixes news and entertainment interviews with updates of news, sport and weather. The format of one male and one female presenter began with original hosts Mike Hosking and Susan Wood, and has included Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry (who won controversy for Breakfast comments about an Indian politician), and Brit Rawdon Christie and Alison Pugh. A Saturday version of Breakfast was trialled in 2011, but abandoned the next year.
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.
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.