The father of veteran weatherman Jim Hickey was a Spitfire pilot during World War II. In this early 2000s series, made while Hickey junior was senior weathercaster at TVNZ, he channels his heritage and flies a Cessna 182 around New Zealand airstrips, taking the pulse of the people and landscapes peculiar to each region. The airborne Heartland was one of a series of programmes that he made with producer Dave Mason, under their Rustic Road Productions banner (starting with Jim’s Car Show in 2000). Hickey would later open cafes at Queenstown and New Plymouth airports.
This series of 25 half-hour documentaries made for TVNZ uses individual stories to explore diversity in New Zealand in areas including ethnicity, age, gender and religion. Among the locations are earthquake ravaged Christchurch, the Womad festival in New Plymouth, a fire fighters’ competition in Port Macquarie and slums in Manila. Subjects include a Malaysian-born plastic surgeon, Wellington grannies offering cooking and budgeting tips for council tenants, a prison choir, a Burmese expatriate waiting for heart surgery and a middle-aged male mid-wife.