The Grunt Machine began life in May 1975 as a pop culture show for 12-20 year olds playing four days a week at 5.30pm. Presented by Andy Anderson, it featured music and reporter based items. Pulled in August, it returned in September as a much hipper late Friday night rock show fronted by David Jones. The 1976 season started with Paul Holmes (in his first presenting role) and featured a Split Enz special for its first show. Fellow DJ John Hood took over later in the year (lying on cushions to do his links). The final Grunt Machine aired in December 1976.
Hosted by Alex Tarrant (Filthy Rich) and Niwa Whatuira, this series for rangatahi featured interviews (from singers Ladi6 and Che Fu, to model Ngahuia Williams), and visits to festivals and events (eg the NZ DMC DJ champs, Waiata Māori Music Awards and Armageddon). Animated feature 'True Cuz' gave wry advice on everything from laying a hangi, to preparing for doomsday. Those behind the camera included former Mai Time presenter Olly Coddington (feild directing), and Toi Iti (producing). The series was made by TVNZ’s Māori department, and screened on Saturday mornings on TV2.
Heroes followed a band trying to make it in the mid-80s music biz. Teen-orientated, the show marked a first major role for Jay Laga’aia (Star Wars), and an early gig for Michael Hurst (with blonde Billy Idol spikes). Band keyboardist John Gibson co-wrote the series music; he later became an award-winning film composer. Margaret Umbers (Shortland Street, Bridge to Nowhere) was a non-musician in the cast (with Hurst), but since has sung regularly in a jazz band. A second series follow in 1986.
Kaleidoscope was a magazine-style arts series which ran from 30 July 1976 until 1989. Running for many years in a 90 minute format, the show tried varied approaches over its run, from an initial mix of local and international items — including live performances — to episodes which focused on a single artist or topic. In the early 80s Kaleidoscope collected three Feltex awards for Speciality Programme. Hosts over the years included initial presenter Jeremy Payne, newsreader Angela D'Audney, future Auckland music professor Heath Lees, and Warratahs fiddler Nic Brown.
Maria Dallas' performance of Jay Epae song ‘Tumblin’ Down’ helped make it a top 20 hit in 1966. Impressed with her versatility at the Loxene Golden Disc Award ceremony that year, TV producer Christopher Bourn invited her into a television studio five days before Christmas to perform songs for two 15 minute episodes of her own show, Golden Girl. Over the next year Dallas’ career continued to explode. In between trips to Australia, America and Asia, Bourn got her back to film further episodes, each one featuring four or five songs by Dallas, plus a guest spot by another performer.
By the mid 1970s, Kiwi entertainer Ray Woolf was a regular television presence as a performer and host. After a stint co-hosting chat show Two on One (with Val Lamont and later Davina Whitehouse), the show morphed in 1979 into Woolf’s own singing and talk slot: The Ray Woolf Show, where he interviewed international stars, and sung and filmed clips around the country. After a season the show was reformatted to focus on music as The New Ray Woolf Show, and ran for another two years. In this period Woolf was awarded Best Television Light Entertainer multiple times.
Debuting on TV Four as Tūmeke in 1999, children's show Pūkana was pioneering in its use of te reo. Given a new title when it moved to TV3 in its second year, it later began an epic run on Māori Television. Taking contemporary kids' culture cues, Pūkana features game shows, send-ups, talent quests and music. It emphasises ‘street’ rather than marae-style language. Made by company Cinco Cine, it has won three awards for best show in its category, and two nominations for children’s programme. Past presenters include Mātai Smith, Quinton Hita and Te Hamua Nikora.
Funny Business (Ian Harcourt, Dean Butler, Willy de Wit and Peter Murphy) emerged out of the Auckland comedy scene in 1985, taking some of their cues from mid-80s UK shows like The Young Ones. An association with producer/director Tony Holden and writer James Griffin led to a series for TVNZ in 1988 which won three TV Awards. A second series made in 1989 screened in 1991. Avoiding topical satire, they specialised in character based skits and music parodies — and hoons, buying lounge suites and mormons on bicycles would never be quite the same again.
The Insiders Guide to Happiness follows the interconnecting lives of eight 20-something characters — one of them dead — as they search for happiness. Dramatic, comic, sexy, surreal, the drama won critical acclaim and was a ratings success. An ambitious chaos theory-derived 'meta' concept is underpinned by strong performances from the ensemble of burgeoning acting talent, and stylishly-shot Wellington city locations. The Gibson Group production won seven awards at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards, including Best Drama and Best Director (Mark Beesley)
Thanks partly to enthusiastic host Te Hamua Nikora, Homai Te Pakipaki soon won a keen following. Over nine years the sometimes rough and unrehearsed karaoke contest became a Friday night staple on Māori Television — encouraging young and not so young to shine, as they performed and competed for a cash prize, sometimes to studio audiences numbering as high as 3000. Alongside Nikora, the band of hosts included award-winner Mātai Smith, 2008 series winner Pikiteora Mura-Hita and radio's Brent Mio. In 2016 Nikora returned to co-host follow-up show Sidewalk Karaoke.