When New Zealand’s second channel arrived in 1975, TV One stayed with BBC format Play School as its pre-schoolers’ programme while newcomer SPTV made a local version of American show Romper Room (initially in Auckland, then from the Christchurch studios that later made After School). Participation from a young (and sometimes startled) studio audience was a hallmark of the show. The presenters included Miss Yvonne (they were always Miss) Moore — wife of future Prime Minister Mike Moore. Romper Room disappeared in 1980 when the channels combined.
Hosted by Sticky TV's Julia Bloore (née Wright) and Jeremy Hollis, this studio-based show was aimed at nine to 13-year-olds, or "tweens". in beTWEEN debuted on commercial-free channel TVNZ 6 in 2008. It ran for 39 episodes, over three years. Presented before a live audience of tweens, each episode covered a different theme, including green issues, technology, bullying, parties, kissing, dating and divorce. Children took control of sections such as Diary Cam and The Beginner's Guide to... .The studio guests included politician Jacinda Ardern and actor Rawiri Paratene.
SpottyWot and DottyWot are young alien siblings exploring life on earth in this made-for-wee-kids TV series. In each 10 minute episode, the CGI-animated SpottyWot (blue) and DottyWot (pink) inhabit live action environments, like the zoo and the beach. The show was the second production (after Jane and the Dragon) for Pūkeko Pictures, a partnership between children’s author Martin Baynton and Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger (of Weta Workshop and Lord of the Rings fame). Two series were made of the Annie-nominated show, and it screened around the globe.
From an idea by Australian producer Brendon Lunney, Deepwater Haven was a kidult series on TV2, set in fictional community Cooks Haven. It followed the fortunes of Waitemata Harbour tugboat skipper Jack Wilson (Vince Martin of Beaurepaires ad fame) and his two kids. The 26 30 minute episodes were a co-production between South Pacific Pictures (NZ), Beyond Productions (Australia) and F Productions (France). The young actors included Jay Saussey and singer Milan Borich. The show was nominated for Best Childrens Programme at the 1994 NZ Film and TV Awards.
The "kids stumble on crims" premise of this kidult thriller series was practically an NZ TV staple in the 80s (Terry and the Gunrunners, The Fire-Raiser); here it's realised with a script by author Margaret Mahy and the director/producer team of Peter Sharp and Chris Bailey (vying with a schedule disrupted by Cyclone Bola). Mahy creates a world of masks, disguises and intrigue for a young cast including Martin Henderson (his screen debut), Hamish McFarlane (fresh from Vincent Ward’s The Navigator), Joel Tobeck (an early role) and deaf seven-year-old Sonia Pivac.
A continuation of the classic 70s UK TV series cherished by herds of horse-loving girls, the New Adventures follow Vicky Denning (Amber McWilliams) who has emigrated to the antipodes with her step-mother, where she is captivated by a mystic black horse. The co-production was set in NZ, produced by Tom Parkinson and features many Kiwi names in front of and behind the camera (Illona Rodgers, Ken Catran). Key original cast and the famous original title sequence and tune are reprised, but now with Beauty galloping along a west coast beach. Two seasons were produced.
Classic sci-fi TV series Under the Mountain follows the adventures of redheaded twins with psychic powers — Rachel and Theo — on their Auckland summer holiday. They meet the mysterious Mr Jones, an alien emissary who enlists them in the battle against the evil Wilberforces, who are plotting planetary destruction. Adapted from the Maurice Gee novel, the series' fx left their slimy imprint on a generation of NZ kids, haunted by the transmogrifying Wilberforces, who changed from humans into giant slugs slithering underneath Auckland’s volcanoes.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Filmed before a live studio audience on weekend mornings, What Now? is a New Zealand TV institution; it was the first TV show to have live phone-ins. The series is known for its challenges that sometimes result in participants being 'gunged'. A roll-call of presenters includes Steve Parr, Danny Watson, Simon Barnett, Jason Gunn, Michelle A'Court, Tamati Coffey, Antonia Prebble, and more. 'Get out of your Lazy Bed' by Matt Bianco is the theme song memorable to generations of Kiwi kids.
In 2002 American reality show The Osbournes became a global hit. The following year The Family provided Aotearoa with its own reality TV whānau: The Rippins. The show chronicled the lives of matriarch Denise, her second husband (property developer Pat) and her adult children Scott, Maria, Matthew and Victoria. Made by Visionary Productions, the TV3 show won headlines for the family’s cashed-up lifestyle. It made a Stuff 2016 list of New Zealand's worst reality shows. Pat Rippin was declared bankrupt in 2008; he was later convicted of hiding assets during the process.
This daily after school show for young audiences covered celebrities, music, movies, sport, fashion and interviews. Content for the YouTube generation included cross-media segments like ‘Snackchat’ (make a meal in the Snapchat time limit), and ‘Hundy on a Mundy’ (viewers complete unpleasant tasks for prizes). It was made by Kiwi kids television powerhouse Whitebait TV for TV2. The show's presenters included Eve Palmer, Michael Lee, musician Massad Barakat-Devine and Adam Percival (What Now?). In 2016 it became The Adam and Eve Show, then shifted to ZM radio.