The Governor was a television epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey in six thematic parts. Grey's "Good Governor" persona was undercut with laudanum, lechery and land confiscation. NZ TV's first (and only) historical blockbuster was hugely controversial, provoking a parliamentary inquiry and "test match sized" audiences. It won a 1978 Feltex Award for Best Drama. Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw trumpeted: "It has made Māori matter. If Pākehā now have a better understanding of the Māori point of view [...] it stems from The Governor.
Seven stand-alone contemporary dramas, collected together under one umbrella. The stories in this television series showcase a fresh wave of 1980s independent filmmakers. They cross the gamut from gritty kitchen sink dramas and oddball tales of Kiwi heroes, to Jewel's Darl, an acclaimed romance staring future transsexual MP Georgina Beyer. Five of the About Face directors went on to make feature films; 23-year-old Jennifer Ward-Lealand's performance in Danny and Raewyn won a GOFTA award.
Moana Maniapoto and Toby Mills' documentary series recorded interviews with end-of millennium Māori elders (including Maniapoto's nan Kaa Rakaupai) in four hour-long episodes, revisiting a time when tribal traditions, beliefs and customs were still strong, but when Māori children had their mouths washed with soap for speaking te reo at school. The series, filmed in te reo, was co-funded by Te Mangai Paho and screened on TVNZ and at French and Finnish film festivals. Episode tahi won Best Māori Programme at the 2000 NZ TV Awards.
These six ‘webisodes’ are an online mockumentary series about a David vs Goliath legal battle won by the titular Tararua vale against BPC, a Belgian petrochemical giant. Sid (played by Byron Coll of “Nonu, Nonu, Nonu. Boom!” Mastercard ad fame) has received Woodville Arts Council funding to document the (fictional) landmark case; a scenario that provides fodder for the makers to poke the cow prod at contemporary Kiwi life and NIMBY concerns. Funded by NZ On Air’s digital media fund Ignite, Woodville was selected for indie film festival Raindance in 2013.
Produced by the National Film Unit, New Zealand Now was a companion series to New Zealand Mirror. Both were aimed at overseas cinemas as general publicity for NZ, New Zealand Now dealing with specific subjects, the latter with multiple-item magazine reels. Subjects ranged from the RNZAF, sport and the Whanganui River to bushmen. Most of the New Zealand Now films were made in 1951 and 1952, before the launch of the NFU's long-running series Pictorial Parade. Completed in 1956, the 13th and last film intended for the series was ultimately released shorn of the New Zealand Now title.
This animated TV comedy series is a modern day fairytale following the adventures of five kids growing up in one of Auckland's grungier suburbs. With a fearless, un-PC wit and Simpsons-esque celebrity cameos, it managed to be primetime and family-friendly. The popular show was made by Firehorse Films, and developed from the brazen and poly-saturated comedy of theatre group Naked Samoans. Screening on TV3 for five series it won Best Comedy at the NZ Screen Awards three years running and a Qantas Award for Ant Sang's production design. "Morningside for life!"
New Zealand's first lesbian web series follows three Wellington friends as they fumble their way toward love and acceptance. Producer Robin Murphy and director (and film school tutor) Ness Simons made the first episode in 2015 on a lean budget, followed by five more. in 2017 NZ On Air helped fund a second series. Pot Luck has attracted millions of unique hits, and featured at international web festivals. The cast includes Nikki Si'ulepa (actor and director of Salat se Rotuma - Passage to Rotuma), Tess Jamieson-Karaha (Births, Deaths and Marriages) and Brit import Anji Kreft.
This was a series of stand-alone documentaries that examined the work of some of New Zealand’s iconic visual artists. Commissioned from some of NZ’s best producers and directors, Work of Art was the result of a funding initiative from NZ On Air. With slightly more generous budgets and a broad creative brief, the Work of Art series gave our more accomplished television and film practitioners a canvas for their own art. This was a forerunner to the Artsville and Festival documentary strands.
Tangata Whenua was a groundbreaking six-part documentary series that screened (remarkably in primetime) in 1974. Each episode chronicled a different iwi and included interviews by historian Michael King with kaumātua. These remain a priceless historical record. The Feltex Award-winning script was by King and director Barry Barclay. The NZBC said the series had "possibly done more towards helping the European understand the Māori people, their traditions and way of life, than anything else previously shown on television". Paul Diamond writes about Tangata Whenua here.
Backch@t was a magazine-style arts and culture show that appealed, from the opening acid-jazz theme tune, to a literate late-90s arts audience. Fronted by media personality Bill Ralston, the show included reporters Mark Crysell and Jodi Ihaka, and Chris Knox appears as the weekly film reviewer. In keeping with Ralston’s journalistic background, Backch@t took a ‘news’ approach to the arts, debating topics in the studio and interviewing the personalities, as well as covering the sector stories.