Frontline - Five Days in July

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

Ten years on from the tumultuous 1984 General Election, this award-winning TVNZ current affairs doco examines the financial and constitutional crisis that resulted from Robert Muldoon’s initial refusal to yield power. Reporter Richard Harman, who conducted pivotal interviews at the time, talks to key players to piece together the events of five remarkable days. They also saw the opening salvoes between David Lange and US Secretary of State George Shultz over nuclear ship visits, and foreshadowed Roger Douglas’ controversial remaking of the NZ economy. 

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 2 - The Whole World's Watching

Television, 2010 (Full Length Episode)

The birth of television in the 1960s meant that suddenly protests and civil unrest could be broadcast directly into Kiwi homes. This episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television looks at many of those events — involving everything from the Vietnam War and the Springbok tour, to Bastion Point and the Homosexual Law Reform Act. It also examines how being televised altered their impact. Interviews with both protestors and reporters provide a unique insight into what it was like to be living through extraordinary periods of New Zealand history.

Dancing Cossacks - 1975 National Party

Commercial, 1975 (Full Length)

One of the most controversial political adverts to emerge from New Zealand, this 1975 spot only played twice on local television, but helped bring National a landslide win. National leader Rob Muldoon’s chief target was the Labour Government’s superannuation scheme, which the ad notoriously associated with communism, via a troupe of dancing Cossacks. Created by ad agency Colenso, the concept was animated by company Hanna-Barbera in Australia. After being elected, Muldoon brought in a replacement superannuation scheme.

Wellington - Promises, Promises

Short Film, 1985 (Full Length)

Made in an era before “coolest little capital” and Absolutely Positively Wellington, the title of this NFU promotional film — Promises, Promises — nods to the capricious charms of the harbour city. A reflective narration is scored by a saxophone soundtrack as the film tours from the stock market, school fair, and swimsuit shopping, to Trentham and up hillside goat-tracks. The opening of Parliament is cut together with a Lions versus France rugby match at Athletic Park, while Scorching Bay is jam-packed with sun-seekers (it must have been filmed on a good day).

Inquiry - The Late Mr Norman Kirk

Television, 1974

In September 1974, NZ reels from the premature loss of Norman Kirk — dead at 51 after just 20 months as prime minister. For this NZBC current affairs show, reporters Joe Coté and George Andrews head to the provinces to find out how Kirk is remembered by the ordinary men and women he valued so much. In less than stellar Labour strongholds in Central Otago and Taranaki, they meet people won over by a politician prepared to listen and treat them as equals. Their palpable affection is shared by Pacific leaders Gough Whitlam, Albert Henry and Michael Somare.

2002 Leaders Debate - Debate Three

Television, 2002 (Full Length)

Paul Holmes presents this third TVNZ Leaders Debate before the 2002 General Election. Prime Minister Helen Clark (Labour) talks of "keeping a good job going", while challenger Bill English (National) pitches that Kiwis "deserve better". After a campaign featuring GE corn and a controversial worm (used in the first debate), this final discussion before the election features the leaders of the two main parties arguing over "the issues that matter" (health, education, taxes, MMP machinations) in front of a half-Labour, half-National audience at Avalon's 'TVNZ election centre'. 

The 1975 Leaders Debate

Television, 1975 (Full Length)

This 1975 general election leaders' debate sees Prime Minister Bill Rowling (Labour) square off against contender Robert Muldoon (National) in front of a panel (Bruce Slane, Gordon Dryden, David Beatson). Rowling had been in the job a year, after the death of Norm Kirk, and Muldoon paints him as a drifter in the face of the first oil shock. It was one of three pre-election specials made for NZ TV’s new second channel. This is filmed in black and white, but during this campaign National exploited newly-arrived colour TV via the infamous ‘Dancing Cossacks’ ads.

Fourth Estate - Programme 21

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

In the episode of TVNZ's media commentary show, Brian Priestley examines coverage of the 1987 general election. He finds much to like in the "terrific" efforts of radio, television and newspapers. TVNZ's "sloping thing" graphic comes in for particular praise, but Priestley is less enthusiastic about the televising of Jim Bolger’s painfully uncomfortable concession phone call to victor David Lange. The newly re-elected Prime Minister doesn't escape Priestley's vigilance, as Lange is chided for his post-election cancellation of press conferences.

Dislawderly - Series Two

Web, 2018 (Full Length Episodes)

The second season of web series Dislawderly sees outspoken law student Audrey facing love and student elections, and preparing for a moot (a mock trial). Series creator and real life law student Georgia Rippin (who also stars) used responses from the law school’s 2016 gender survey to frame her storylines — like female students being chided for speaking in a high pitch in the courtroom. Dislawderly's mockery of sexism proved timely. The second season dropped two months after a scandal over how female student clerks had been treated at a major New Zealand law firm. 

Campaign

Film, 1999 (Full Length)

In 1996 Tony Sutorius got his hands on a new digital video camera, days before the start of an election campaign in Wellington Central. Made on the proverbial shoestring, this feature-length documentary chronicles five of those battling for the crown as a new political age  — MMP — dawns. Richard Prebble joins a new party called Act, the National candidate joins United New Zealand… and one of the five will be sacrificed by their own party. Sutorius sat through 55 hours of footage to forge the result, which won enthused, sellout audiences at the 1999 NZ Film Festival.