Described by co-star Neill Rea as the "little show that could", The Brokenwood Mysteries has screened in over 15 countries and and involved a long run of fictional murders. Each feature-length episode of this Prime TV crime drama is a standalone murder mystery, set in a small Kiwi town. Neill Rea (Scarfies) stars as veteran detective Mike Shepherd, who works alongside Detective Kristin Sims (played by Fern Sutherland from The Almighty Johnsons). Backing up the pair are Detective Sam Breen (Nic Sampson from Funny Girls) and Russian pathologist Gina Kadinsky (Cristina Ionda).
The Gravy was made for TVNZ by Sticky Pictures. The award-winning arts series was described as a “30 minute tour through creative Aotearoa” — usually featuring three stories per episode, but with every fourth show showcasing one subject. Conceived as “a show about creative people made by creative people, both in front of the camera and behind”, it featured presenters who were practising artists: photographer/graphic artist Ross Liew, musician Warren Maxwell, and writer Gabe McDonnell. In total, roughly 170 artists were profiled across The Gravy's 52 episodes.
NZ Herald writer Michele Hewitson described the concept behind this series as "Popstars with jokes". Experienced comedian Paul Horan scours Aotearoa for fresh comedic talent; over the course of a month, fifteen newbies are tested in live and television settings. Each episode ends with eliminations — the "last stand-up standing" is crowned the winner. Comedians Jon Bridges and Raybon Kan join Horan as judges. The first episode features Queen St venue The Classic Comedy Club. The show was partly inspired by a stand-up contest for new acts held in the United Kingdom.
TVNZ publicity described Ngā Reo like this: “Each episode of Ngā Reo features the story of a Māori person or people and their unique kaupapa: the reason they have been put on this earth, their individual stories and also our national stories." The series soon widened its scope, with episodes on Rastafarianism, performances in Greece by Taki Rua theatre group, and the story behind Napier's Pania of the Reef statue. The episode on activist Syd Jackson won the 2003 NZ TV Award for Best Māori Programme.
Long-running series Marae DIY brings a tangata whenua twist to the home renovation format. Series creator Nevak Rogers describes the bilingual production as "the programme which helps marae knock out their 10 year plans in just four days". The drama of the building mahi is mixed with humour, whānau-spirit, tikanga (protocol) and history, and even makeovers for the nannies. For Marae DIY's 11th season in 2015, it shifted from Māori Television to TV3. In 2007 the 'Manutuke Marae' episode won a Qantas Award for Best Reality Show.
Described as a "Māori Twilight Zone", Mataku was a series of half-hour dramatic narratives steeped in Māori experience with the "unexplained". Two South Pacific Pictures-produced series screened on TV3; a later series screened on TV One in 2005. Each episode was introduced by Temuera Morrison Rod Serling-style. The bi-lingual series was a strong international and domestic success; producer Carey Carter: "Our people are very spiritual ... and here we are ... turning it into stories so that the rest of the world can get a glimpse of that aspect of our culture."
The Beginner's Guide... was a series of half-hour documentaries made for TV ONE, and hosted by reporters Ian Johnstone, Caroline McGrath, Judith Fyfe, John Gordon and Philip Alpers. Veteran broadcaster Johnstone described the programmes as going "into areas of life which intrigue, mystify or frighten us". Topics included visiting a marae, prisons, wealth, bankruptcy, GST, the Census, divorce, cancer and the Freemasons. Three series of six episodes and one special screened between 1983 and 1986.
Inspired by the work of Spring Hill Prison music therapist Evan Rhys Davies, Julian Arahanga convinced the Department of Corrections to allow him to film inmates making songs at Rimutaka and Arohata prisons — with mentoring from musicians Anika Moa, Warren Maxwell, Maisey Rika, and Ruia Aperahama. In later seasons Moa was joined by Don McGlashan, Annie Crummer, Laughton Kora, Ladi6, Scribe and Troy Kingi at other prisons. The Māori TV show won Best Reality Series at the 2017 NZ Television Awards, and international interest. It also spawned two albums.
Fuelled by enthusiasm more than cash, Newton Salad debuted on Wellington station Channel 7 in November 1999. In the first episode, Dempsey Woodley described the show as a mix of talkback and comedy. Alongside viewers' calls, hosts Woodley and Amanda Hanan introduced sketches and guests — including Flight of the Conchords, Pinky Agnew (as Jenny Shipley) and Gentiane Lupi (Helen Clark's hairdresser). After two months of live weekly shows, Newtown Salad returned for five nights in May 2000 showcasing acts from TV2's International Laugh Festival.
In each episode of this garden makeover show, Jim Mora and the Mucking In team rallied together locals to reward a community hero with a surprise garden. The long-running format was described by TV reviewer Trevor Agnew as "the caring face of reality TV". It won Best Lifestyle Programme at the 2004 Qantas Media Awards, and spawned a tie-in book in its final year. Said Mora: "You met the best people in New Zealand and all their nice mates. It was probably the nicest thing that anyone in television would ever have the chance to do."