The pretender series thumb
Series

The Pretender

Television, 2005–2008

In this mockumentary series, hapless property developer turned politican Dennis Plant (played by Bob Maclaren) campaigns to win a fictional Queenstown seat, then later launches party Future New Zealand. Made by Great Southern, the first season screened on TV3. A second season on TV One coincided with the 2008 election; it was thrice nominated at the 2009 Qantas NZ Film and TV Awards (Best Comedy, plus Actor and Supporting Actor, for Maclaren and Andrew King respectively). Reality met fiction when Plant's 2008 election blog appeared on the NZ Herald website.

The life and times of te tutu series thumb
Series

The Life and Times of Te Tutu

Television, 2000–2001

This comedy series followed the daily life of an 1800s Māori chief (Pio Terei) and his interactions with other Māori and newly-arrived Pākehā settlers. Nothing was sacred as a subject for satire, from disease to English gold lust. Created by Ray Lillis (Pio!), the series features Rachel House (Whale Rider), Jason Hoyte (Late Night Big Breakfast), William Davis (Belief) and Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows). Guests included Dalvanius and Charles Mesure. It was produced by Terei’s Pipi Productions for TVNZ over two seasons; Terei had shifted from TV3 after his series Pio! in 1999. 

2529.thumb
Series

Greenstone

Television, 1999

Greenstone is the tale of a beautiful, missionary-educated Māori woman (Simone Kessell) whose romantic life is subject to the shifting loyalties of her father, Chief Te Manahau (George Henare). The cross-cultural elements of this ambitious colonial bodice-ripper were reflected off-screen as well: created by Greg McGee in response to a call by TV One for a local drama 'saga', the series saw major English creative input through being developed as a co-production with the BBC. After the withdrawal of BBC funding, the Tainui Corporation helped fund the eight-part series.

10721.thumb
Series

Mirror Mirror

Television, 1995–1997

Two 14-year-old girls discover that they have a lot in common in this two-part 1995 children's fantasy drama. They live in the same street, same house, same bedroom, but 76 years apart. An antique mirror/portal leads them on a time travel adventure involving nerve gas, a Russian Tsar and an English soldier. Created by Australian Posie Graeme-Evans (who devised TV hits Hi-5 and McLeod's Daughters) this award-winning trans-Tasman co-production between the Gibson Group and Millennium Pictures was sold to more than 60 countries. A second series followed in 1997.

10625.thumb
Series

Dig This

Television, 1975–1986

Dig This became NZ’s first national gardening show when it replaced a series of regional programmes in 1975. For 15 minutes, before the English football highlights on Sunday mornings, presenter Eion Scarrow (who had honed his skills fronting the Auckland show since 1971) dirtied his hands in a specially created garden in the grounds of Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt (allowing a generation of trainee directors to develop their own craft). His advice was no-nonsense and so was his wardrobe of home knitted jerseys, gumboots, overalls and towelling hats.

10513.thumb
Series

Here to Stay

Television, 2007–2008

Here to Stay uses New Zealand personalities to examine key settler groups that make up the Kiwi tribe. Each show mixes personal stories with a wider view, as the presenter sets out to discover what traits and icons their ethnic group contributed to the NZ blend. In the first (of two) series Michael Hurst, Theresa Healey, Ewen Gilmour, Jackie Clarke, Frano Botica and Bernadine Lim explore the English, Irish, German, Scot, Croatian, and Chinese stories respectively. Each episode includes identity reflections from a chorus of well-known Kiwis.  

10681.thumb
Series

Johnstone's Journey

Television, 1978

English-born broadcaster Ian Johnstone had been living in New Zealand for 17 years when TVNZ gave him the opportunity to take the pulse of his adoptive country, in a series of six half-hour documentaries. With a brief to provide his personal perspective on "what's changing, what's worth keeping", Johnstone's Journey saw him touring the country and talking to everyday people (rather than the expected experts) as he examined the Kiwi DIY ethic, Māori and Pākehā attitudes to the land, the family, rural community, the spread of the cities, and the New Zealand identity.

10529.thumb
Series

Kia Ora Hola

Television, 2010

This six-part Māori Television series documents the experiences of six teenagers from Māori language schools in Rotorua, on a three-week cultural field trip to Santiago, Chile. The students take their own cameras to record their experiences. They are hosted by the Montessori school Colegio Pucalan and local families, and take in the sites and sounds of the Chilean capital. The series is in Te Reo Māori, with English sub-titles. It is a follow-up series to the original Kia Ora Ni Hao, set in China.

Colonial house series thumb
Series

Colonial House

Television, 2003

Debuting in 2003, this Touchdown series followed 2001's Pioneer House, a similar show from the same company. The new show transported an Otago family (policeman Ross, music teacher Dorothy, and their four kids) back to 1852 to recreate the challenges of life as English immigrants to New Zealand — including the clothing, housing and toiletries of settler life. It was executive produced by Julie Christie, who in a 2006 Listener interview mentioned the experience of pitching the show to NZ On Air as a key driver in deciding to make television that wasn’t reliant on public funding.

12066.thumb
Series

Joe's World on a Plate

Television, 2013

Globetrotting Wellington chef Joe McLeod (Ngāi Tūhoe) has cooked professionally in more than 30 countries over the course of a career that began in 1972. In this bilingual series made for Māori Television, he takes recipes, tastes and flavours that he has encountered on those travels, and combines them with local NZ ingredients (including some of the 70 varieties of native greens used in traditional Māori cuisine). In each episode, McLeod reminisces in English and te reo about his life and travels as he prepares a starter, a main and a dessert.