A decade before joining Gotye at the top spot of the American singles chart, future pop star Kimbra Lee Johnson was an effervescent 11-year-old, investigating the mechanics of making a hit recording. This is one of a series of segments she presented for TVNZ kids show What Now?. After meeting up with producers Rikki Morris and Stephen Small, she's ready to record her song 'Smile'. The venue is Morris' Devonport studio; the duo have an arrangement all set to go, so Kimbra can lay down her vocal.
New Zealand's unique accent is often derided across the dutch for its vowel-mangling pronunciation ("sex fush'n'chups", anyone?) and being too fast-paced for tourists and Elton John to understand. In this documentary Jim Mora follows the evolution of New Zealand English, from the "colonial twang" to Billy T James. Linguist Elizabeth Gordon explains the infamous HRT (High Rising Terminal) at the end of sentences, and Mora interprets such phrases as "air gun" ("how are you going?"). Lynn of Tawa also features, in an accent face-off with Sam Neill and Judy Bailey.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.