Bill Sevesi was the 'Godfather' of Polynesian music in New Zealand; his impact can be heard in the strum of ukeleles in classrooms across the country. In this 24-minute film Sevesi (born Wilfred Jeffs) narrates his life story, including his childhood in Tonga, making his first guitar, and his role in bringing Pacific Island music into the dance halls of 1940's and 50's New Zealand. Sevesi's bands mixed Hawaiian steel guitar with pop tunes of the day, resulting in sunny hits like 'Kissing Hula'. Watch out for uke player Sione Aleki, Tonga's answer to Jimi Hendrix.
This segment from Grunt Machine is a visit to Wellington radio station 2ZM. Announcer Paul Holmes (and later Grunt Machine host — resplendent in afro and moustache) is interviewed after giving away an LP to Carol of Naenae. He isn't a fan of music charts and thinks 2ZM should drop its Top 20 because people just want to hear music now and not the hit parade. Elsewhere there are calls to record shops to check sales and compile the Top 20 that Mr Holmes would rather not have — and a listening session rattles through the new releases in very short order.
During his last session on air, a veteran radio announcer (played by David Corbalis) finds himself on a quest through the streets and sewers. His mission: to retrieve a special record, in time to play it for a devoted listener. Signing Off was made by Nightmare Productions, a team of Dunedin filmmakers. The success of this comical, high energy short film helped lead to Scarfies, the feature debut of Nightmare team member Rob Sarkies (Scarfies, Out of the Blue). A big seller overseas, Signing Off won awards at film festivals from Dresden to Montreal.