The concept behind 2016 Māori Television talent show The Stage: Haka Fusion was to combine traditional kapa haka with contemporay dance disciplines like hip hop and ballet. Contestants competed for a prize purse of $50,000. Produced in-house by Māori TV, Haka Fusion was fronted by Rotorua actor and teacher Kimo Houltham. The first series was won by World Champion hip hop dance crew Identity Dance Company. They were given a wild card lifeline into the finals by the four judges, after their initial routine failed to meet the show’s criteria: it didn’t feature enough kapa haka!
The last drama to be made in-house by TVNZ, The Champion was written by author Maurice Gee at the behest of producer Ginette McDonald after the success of their collaboration on The Fire-Raiser. Set in Henderson, West Auckland over three weeks in early 1943, it centres on 12 year old Rex (Milan Borich — later the lead singer in Pluto) and a black American GI billeted with his family. This tough, accomplished drama looks unflinchingly at racism and prejudice — both imported and local — and is ample testimony to the skills of its writer, cast and crew.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars put the competitive community spirit of Top Town onto the dancefloor, as ballroom dancers representing different regions twirled and dipped for supremacy. Created by Ron Pledger (a longtime TVNZ go-to person for major event TV — Top Town, This is Your Life, Anzac Day broadcasts), the concept was inspired by Pledger’s wife, a champion Latin American dancer who had connections in the ballroom dancing world. Top Dance ran for three seasons.
Our World was a long-running Sunday night slot on TV One dedicated to nature programming. Many iconic nature documentaries screened in the slot from international series such as David Attenborough’s The Living Planet, to local classics from the Wild South series, Peter Hayden-presented Journeys Across Latitude 45 South, and David Bellamy championing all things natural NZ. The shows were introduced by Gael Ludlow and the opening titles feature the fondly-remembered Jean Michel Jarre synthpop track that was Our World’s signature.