Comedians Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea'i launched their stage act in 2003. For the next 13 years they toured Laughing Samoan shows through Australasia, the Pacific Islands and beyond. Skits lampooned PI life in Niu Sila; subjects ranged from 'island time' to funerals, and included popular characters like Aunty Tala (played by Fepulea'i). The eight-part series was conceived by Aaron Taouma and produced by TVNZ’s Pasifika department. Pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from a Laughing Samoans theatre tour, it was given an 11pm timeslot on TV2.
This three part mini-series is loosely based on the remarkable tour by the NZ Natives rugby team which played 107 games in Australasia and Great Britain in 1888-89. At its heart is a cross-cultural love story between Pony — the grandson of a chief and one of the side’s stars — and Charlotte: the granddaughter of an English Earl (Ian Richardson of House of Cards fame). The tour provided the first exposure to Māori for many in the UK. The interaction could be uncomfortable but even more so when affairs of the heart threatened the cultural divide.
English-born broadcaster Ian Johnstone had been living in New Zealand for 17 years when TVNZ gave him the opportunity to take the pulse of his adoptive country, in a series of six half-hour documentaries. With a brief to provide his personal perspective on "what's changing, what's worth keeping", Johnstone's Journey saw him touring the country and talking to everyday people (rather than the expected experts) as he examined the Kiwi DIY ethic, Māori and Pākehā attitudes to the land, the family, rural community, the spread of the cities, and the New Zealand identity.
Hosted by broadcaster Gordon Dryden, and screening on the second television channel, The Friday Conference aimed to be a public discussion forum as Dryden quizzed newsmakers of the day in-depth. In 1977 it shifted to Thursday nights. It was the first New Zealand current affairs programme to regularly use studio audiences. Notable interviewees included Prime Minister Robert Muldoon and Abraham Ordia, president of Africa's Supreme Council for Sport (who helped spur the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics, over the All Blacks touring apartheid South Africa).
Producer Ric Salizzo followed a series of All Black tour videos with this popular long-running live show. The Sky Sport (later TV2) series featured interviews and skits, and gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls (and tension between larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis and co-host Lana Coc-Kroft). Other members of the circus that Salizzo tried to wrangle included That Guy (Leigh Hart), Eva the Bulgarian (Eva Evguenieva), Graeme Hill, and the Human Canonball (Ben Hickey). The show made a brief comeback in 2008.
One of the most successful television shows shot on Kiwi soil, The Tribe was the brainchild of British-born Raymond Thompson. In a future where the adults have been wiped out by a virus, the children that remain have formed into competing tribes, some of whom live to terrorise. Running five seasons, The Tribe sold to more than 120 territories, and the cast toured performances from the soundtrack for overseas fans. The cast were almost entirely New Zealanders, as were most of the crew. Sequel The New Tomorrow, following descendants of the original characters, screened in 2005.
Irreverent 90s youth show Havoc launched the TV careers of hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells (the pair was previously known for their work at radio station 95bFM). The magazine format saw Havoc and Newsboy interacting with guests, shooting in the field, music videos, satirising the TV archive and generally engaging in pop culture malarky. The series screened on MTV and then moved to a late-night slot on TV2. Follow-up series included hit road-trip Havoc and Newsboy’s Sell-Out Tour (featuring the infamous outing of Gore), before Havoc continued hosting alone.
The Elegant Shed was a six part doco series looking at NZ architecture since 1945. The influential series (and accompanying book) redefined Kiwi’s relationship to their built environment, celebrating the homespun and DIY (bach and boatshed, tramping huts, suburbia, small town main streets) as inspirations for a distinctly local architecture. Architect David Mitchell plays tour guide (replete with bohemian goatee and polyester suit), interviews key players (The Group, Ian Athfield) and surveys buildings from bespoke cribs to modernist towers.
Before he was a British MP, Austin Mitchell spent time downunder, where he was a political science lecturer and a well known NZBC broadcaster in the 60s. On heading north he wrote classic 1972 book The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise, a satirical commentary on all things Kiwi from an ‘outsider’s’ perspective. In this three-part series, he returned on a length of the country tour to see how things are going in Godzone. “Cook discovered New Zealand, I discovered my pavlova paradise and now I’m going back there to see how it’s changed 40 years on.”
In this five part series, photographer, conservationist and publisher Craig Potton is a New Zealand coast tour guide. Each episode focuses on a region, taking in scenic splendour, while celebrating and taking the pulse of its biodiversity. Along the way Potton frames photos and meets the coasters: from scientists, sailors, swimmers and artists, to iwi, boaties and bach owners. As well as presenting, Potton conceived and wrote the series, produced by South Pacific Pictures. Wild Coasts followed the award-winning and ratings success of Potton’s 2010 series Rivers.