Auckland band Herbs could have released their new album in the comfortable confines of an Auckland nightclub. Instead, they travelled to Ruatoria — a troubled and divided East Coast town where turmoil surrounding a Rastafarian sect had resulted in assaults, kidnappings and firebombed churches. Lee Tamahori and John Day's documentary captures an emotional experience for band and locals as they meet at Mangahanea Marae, in an attempt to shift the focus from disunity to harmony. This footage also yielded the award-winning Sensitive to a Smile music video.
Ryan and Betty-Anne Monga, the core of South Auckland “poly funk” band Ardijah, are profiled in this episode from a Māori Television series about leading Māori artists. In this excerpt, they recall their early days, with Betty-Anne as a soloist and Ryan leading a “boys group” covers band with dreams of a residency on the club circuit. Their decision to join forces resulted in a chart hits like ‘Give Me Your Number’ and ‘Time Makes a Wine’, and in the band becoming a family business — with their son playing bass (but only after a rigorous audition).
Onehunga born jazz and cabaret singer Ricky May hosts his own NZ TV special after 20 years of performing in Sydney. With help from special guests including Norman Erskine, Susan Dalzell and Jamie Rigg, May turns in polished big band versions of standards including ‘Running Bear’, ‘Hit The Road Jack’ and ‘Mack the Knife’. The show is long on music and short on patter, but May does talk about how he explains his Maori heritage to overseas audiences — and he acknowledges those origins with a medley of ‘Pokarekare Ana’ and ‘Hoki Mai’. Ricky May died in 1988.
The South Tonight was a Dunedin-filmed regional news show. In these excerpts, Martin Phillipps and The Chills return home from London, and find album Submarine Bells is number one; legendary local band Sneaky Feelings play a last gig; Velvet Underground muse Nico plays Orientation Week; a ball is filmed at Larnach Castle for TV series Hanlon; rhododendron nuts ramble at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and Jim Mora visits the Danseys Pass Hotel. Finally there’s a survey of dingy student digs circa 1985 (when rents went as low as $14 a week).
Young choreographer Parris Goebel features in the first episode from season four of Māori youth show I AM TV. The series promoted te reo through interviews and music. Vince Harder performs "Say This With Me", Hawaiian reggae band Kolohe Kai hit Aotearoa, and a teen Parris Goebel heads to the United States to audition for TV's America's Best Dance Crew, with her award-winning hip hop group ReQuest Dance Crew. Plus new presenters Taupunakohe Tocker and Chey Milne are introduced by friends and family. I AM TV is the successor of Mai Time, which ran for 12 years.
TrinityRoots' vocalist and songwriter Warren Maxwell talks about his career and songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Maxwell explains the genesis of the Wellington roots/reggae act's classic 'Little Things' (and the making of its music video); he performs a stripped back excerpt from the song. Maxwell also recalls the problems the band encountered in recording their first album and previews a new work, 'Angel Song' (which later appeared on TrinityRoots' second album Home, Land and Sea).
This David Farrier-fronted documentary traces the history of New Zealand's national anthem. Farrier dives into the archives to tell the story of the Thomas Bracken poem set to music by John Joseph Woods; and a band of 2011 musos have a bash at updating it. The patriotic ditty was first played at an Olympic medal ceremony when our rowing eight won gold in 1972, displacing 'God Save the Queen'; and it was adapted into Māori as early as 1882 but a te reo version still caused controversy in 1999. The doco screened on TV3 the day before the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.
This short film follows Vincent (Leighton Phair), a young Chinese-Kiwi rescued from a group of racist punks in a spacies parlour by a mysterious Asian (Gary Young), then drawn into a seedy Triad underworld. Vincent is struggling with his identity in a mixed race family. Directors Stuart McKenzie and Neil Pardington wrote the story with playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle, drawing it from interviews with members of the Chinese community in Wellington and Christchurch. Early 90s Flying Nun bands feature on the score; DJ Mu (future Fat Freddys Drop frontman) cameos as a punk.
Australian Idol winner Stan Walker made his acting debut in this hit feature, as aspiring singer Turei. Part of a whānau of Māori potato pickers from Pukekohe, he has to choose between duty to job and family (Temuera Morrison plays his hard-working Dad) and letting the music play. His dilemma takes place as reggae star Bob Marley performs in Aotearoa in 1979, offering the chance for Turei's band Small Axe to win a supporting slot at Marley's Western Springs concert. Released on Waitangi Day 2013, Tearepa Kahi's debut feature became the most successful local release of the year.
At any one time between mid 1942 and mid 1944, between 15,000 and 45,000 US servicemen were camped in NZ preparing for, and recovering from, war in the Pacific. The marines brought colour and drama to the austerity of home front life. Fifty years later this TV documentary used interviews, reenactments and archive material to explore the “American invasion”. Sonja Davies recalls a Wellington street fight kicked off by a racist insult directed at Māori, and her wartime pregnancy and romance (1,500 marriages ensued from “when the Americans were here”).