This four-part series from 1996 presents the game of rugby as a mirror for New Zealand social history. Written by Finlay Macdonald, it sets out to explain how rugby became such an intrinsic part of New Zealand's identity. Each episode visits iconic paddocks (from schools to stadiums) and players (from amateurs Nepia, Meads, and Shelford, to professional star Lomu); and observers muse on the influence of the inflated pig's bladder on Kiwi culture, including historian Jock Phillips, writer Ian Cross and journalist TP Mclean.
Hosted and created by comedians Pani and Pani, this Māori Television reality show aimed to "sort the bro’s from the boys" by testing 12 Polynesian men on their ability to tackle traditional warrior skills. The popular bros-meets-The Bachelor series produced shirtless calendars and an award-winning 'Lover Boy vs Lavalava Boy' advertising campaign. As of 2017, two seasons had been made by Tiki Lounge Productions. In the second, ex-league player and Code host Wairangi Koopu joined as Games Master. Stuff reviewer Pattie Pegler praised the show’s self-deprecating approach.
Set amidst the 'friendly' 1974 Commonwealth Games, The Games Affair was a thriller fantasy series for children. Remembered fondly by many who were kids in the 70s, the story follows three teenagers who battle a miscreant professor who's experimenting on athletes with performance enhancing drugs. Alongside the young heroes the series featured John Bach as a grunting villain, a youthful Elizabeth McRae, and SFX jumping sheep. It was NZ telly’s first children’s serial, the first independently produced long-form drama, and an early credit for producer John Barnett.
This late 80s game show features couples attempting to accrue time credits through answering a series of questions; aiming to play off for prizes (eg. the required household appliances and a holiday to “exotic Tahiti”). Hosted by Paul Henry — his TV debut — Every Second's gentle pace is decades removed from the accelerating insistency of Millionaire or Weakest Link. Henry fronts with more groaning Granddad jokes than the bumptious cheek he’d later become notorious for, but early warning signs are there, disguised in a formidable 80s suit and white loafers.
This iconic travelling game show saw teams representing New Zealand towns pitted against each other, in a series of colourful physical challenges. Top Town was run over a series of weekly heats, staged in different towns on local sports fields. It leveraged nostalgia for a fast fading time when New Zealand's population (and identity) resided in rural hub towns. The series was light-hearted light entertainment gold — but the battle for civic bragging rights was serious stuff. Top Town screened for 14 years from 1976 until 1990; it returned for another season in 2009.
Wheel of Fortune is a game show that involves the solving of Hangman-style posers. Contestants spin the wheel to accrue prizes, guess letters that may be in the answer, and earn the right to roll again. The Kiwi edition was hosted by Phillip Leishman and Lana Coc-Kroft (with Simon Barnett later replacing Leishman). In a 1992 celebrity episode, Barcelona Olympic bronze medalist boxer (and future World Heavyweight challenger) David Tua, infamously requested the letter O, “for Awesome”. The show returned briefly in 2008 hosted by Jason Gunn and Sonia Gray.
Pop Goes the Weasel started life as a radio quiz on Channel Z and Kiwi FM, before winning a spot on youth TV channel C4. The fast and loose game show ran for three seasons. It marked production company The Downlow Concept's first foray into television. The collective would go on to create critically acclaimed comedy series Hounds and long-running hit 7 Days, another panel show adapted from radio beginnings. Quiz mistress Jaquie Brown presides over teams of comedians and musicians while a greased up, squealing human 'weasel' awards the points.
Dating game show Blind Date ran for more than a decade in the United Kingdom and the United States. At two seasons, the Kiwi version proved less of a long-stayer. The show’s format prioritises the importance of clever answers, over impressive looks: the person taking the hot seat asks questions of a trio of unseen contestants, before choosing who to take on a blind date. The series was presented by Dave Jamieson and Suzy Aiken (before she became Suzy Clarkson).
Based on an overseas format, Touchdown reality series Captive was based on a simple idea: five strangers move into a penthouse apartment and as long as they want to stay in the competition, they cannot leave. Luckily there is motivation, in the form of prizes worth up to $40,000. Contestants are quizzed not only on trivia, but on their fellow housemates. At the end of each episode, whoever fared worst in the quiz is evicted from the house empty-handed, and replaced. Alliances are formed and new friendships broken as they attempt to get to know each other.
Roving quiz show It’s in the Bag got its first screen incarnation in 1973, after Selwyn Toogood campaigned to bring his popular radio series to television. Competitors answered three questions before picking a bag, hoping it contained treasure. Several of Toogood's catchphrases won enduring fame, including "by hokey!” and ”what’ll it be customers, the money or the bag?”. His co-hosts included Heather Eggleton and Tineke Bouchier. After Toogood retired in 1986, John Hawkesby took over, then Nick Tansley. Māori Television relaunched the show in 2009 (also viewable on NZ On Screen).