Kai Time on the Road premiered in Māori Television’s first year of 2003. It has become one of the channel’s longest running series. Presented largely in te reo and directed and presented for many years by chef Pete Peeti, the show celebrated food harvested from the land, rivers and sea. Kai Time traversed the length and breadth of New Zealand, and ventured into the Pacific. The people of the land have equal billing with the kai, and the korero with them is a major element of the show — often over dishes cooked on location. Rewi Spraggon succeeded Peeti for the final two seasons.
Supposedly shot in five days on a budget of $423, the first season of award-winning web series High Road introduced audiences to lovable loser Terry Huffer, an ex rocker who DJs from a caravan in Piha. Writer/director Justin Harwood created the role of Huffer for his Piha neighbour Mark Mitchinson (Siege). Two further seasons were funded by NZ On Air. Video on Demand site Lightbox then compiled them into half-hour episodes, and commissioned a fourth. Harwood has played in indie bands The Chills and Luna, and the show's soundtrack offers fans of classic rock much to savour.
Prime time show Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road took the former rugby-playing duo of Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis (Fresh-up in the Deep End) and sent them to various corners of the globe. Each series or instalment went somewhere new —including the United Kingdom, South America, Russia, Japan and India — where the duo took in the local culture in the form of a physical challenge, which generally saw the loser subjected to humiliation, ridicule and usually pain. For their Rocky Road to Athens series, the pair crossed Europe in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Inspired by one of New Zealand’s most beloved and notorious streets, K’ Rd Stories is a series of short films that set out to “crack open the surface of life on Karangahape Road, revealing diverse cultures and unique voices”. Aware that the iconic Auckland road was on the cusp of change, James Solomon got together with producers Hazel Gibson and Morgan Leigh Stewart to create 10 short tales. Many of the filmmakers on the K' Rd Stories team had lived or worked there. The shorts first screened on 3 December 2015 at venues in and around K Road, before launching online.
Current affairs show Gallery took on controversial topics of the day, most famously in a Brian Edwards interview which solved a Post Office industrial dispute live on-air. Produced by Des Monaghan, it began as a studio-based programme that discussed political issues, but was soon expanded. Edwards’ confrontational style of interrogating public figures was new to New Zealand TV, and polarised viewers. It saw Edwards (the "mad mauler") become a household name, and earned him a reputation as a hardline interviewer. He was succeeded as host by David Exel.
In the Cold War 60s, thrillers peopled with jetsetting spies with shifty figures standing behind pillars in sunnies were all the rage (Danger Man, The Man from Uncle). Kiwi entry The Alpha Plan revolves around a British security agent who finds himself downunder, on the run, investigating strange disappearances amongst a Mensa-like society made up the planet's brightest brains. The ambitious six-part mystery thriller was the first Kiwi TV drama designed to go beyond one episode; positive reaction to the show paved the way for NZBC’s in-house drama department.
By the year 2000, popular TVNZ weatherman Jim Hickey had a programme with his name in the title. The motoring show looked at everything from the psychology of buying a car to road testing new editions and revisiting classics. Hickey's co-presenters were Mark Leishman and onetime MTV host Marie Azcona. After leaving in the second season, Azcona was replaced by Jeanette Thomas. Jim's Car Show was produced for TV One by Dave Mason. Hickey and Mason formed company Rustic Road productions in time for the second season, and went on to make further programmes together.
Sing featured Kiwi entertainers performing popular songs and musical standards, accompanied by a bevy of dancers. The performers included Craig Scott, Ray Woolf, Angela Ayers, Chic Littlewood and musical comic relief Laurie Dee. The hair was big and the collars large, while songs tended towards the middle of the road — for example 'Love is All Around', Tom Jones and Glen Campbell.
The Big Art Trip was a TVNZ arts series that took the form of a road trip around New Zealand visiting artists in their homes or studios. The series featured two presenters — design writer and art historian Douglas Lloyd Jenkins teamed with screenwriter Nick Ward in the first series, and with musician Fiona McDonald in the second. Ward and McDonald were very much the neophytes — the everyperson asking questions on behalf of the audience that allowed Lloyd Jenkins to background, contextualize and explain what was being seen, heard and experienced.
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.